Mexico City - Welcomed by old friends and new strangers (Pools #373 and 374)
It's really odd that, for most of my adult life, I lived in a border state to Mexico ('85 to '89 in Texas, '97 to '18 in Arizona), but never actually went to Mexico ... until a business trip in late October of 2018. And, while it was one of the shorter business trips, it ranks right up there as one of my best ever trips ... thanks to people and pools!
I was very fortunate to be staying in the Polanco neighborhood, steps away from the world-class Museo Soumaya, which I also got to visit thanks to my boss and our key business partner wanting to spend some time there for a walking meeting on one of the afternoons. In addition to this cultural excursion, my business partners there introduced me to some cuisine options I never thought I'd try: escamoles and chiniculies. You might not want to read this article before you eat either, but both were actually quite good.
Or was that the tequila talking?
Which, by the way, my business compadres downed with lunch ... which I guess is culturally no different than drinking wine when at a Parisian business lunch.
But, this is a swimming blog, so let's talk pools and this absolute gem of a facility at Deportivo Chapultepec, Pool #373.
This is a private club, probably the best in the city and one of the nicest I've visited in the world. Does your club boast two 50 meter pools and a diving well complete with a range of platforms?
This place was heartbreakingly close to my hotel, but, there was no drop-in policy, and my first request to visit was met with this response ...
"Hope you are well, unfortunately this is an exclusive club and we don´t have invitations or day pass."
... so then I threw in the entreaty, "I would like to make one more appeal for you to consider, to help me achieve a lifelong ambition. You see, when I turned 40 years old (11 years ago), I set out to swim in 1,001 different pools before I died. As your facility looks simply fabulous, I would greatly appreciate your consideration to allow to me swim one morning, in the pursuit of my dream."
Two days later, the magical response came, "I sent your email to my boss, he has authorized your visit as our guest, please let me know when are you comminng…"
I walked the 20 minutes from my hotel early on the morning of October 22nd and was greeted by staff member Hugo. He took me on a tour of the facility and then gave me my pick of pools. My time was a bit limited as I needed to swim, then walk back and get ready for a breakfast meeting. In a perfect world, I would have swum in both of the 50 meter pools, but pushed through, as best I could at 7400 feet of altitude, 1800 meters in the pool to the left on the picture above. It was glorious and an absolute treat.
I thanked everyone I could as profusely as possible as I headed out.
As cool and special as my first swim and morning was, it was the second morning that made my trip. Thirty years prior, I had swum with a man who became a great friend through our university days in Austin, Texas. Jacob was from Mexico, but, after we had each graduated in the late 1980s and gone our separate ways (me first to Africa, he back to Mexico), we had lost touch. Ahead of this trip, I knew I wanted to track him down, but didn't have any contact information for him.
Enter LinkedIn. He was on it ... and he responded to to my message there!
I was honestly just hoping to see him, maybe grab a drink before one of my evening business dinner commitments, trying to condense thirty years of our histories into an hour or so catch-up. But it was so much more.
Like me, Jacob has never lost his love for swimming, so he picked me up at my hotel on my last morning there and we went for a swim ...
We weren't as fast, nor could we go as far as we did in our twenties, but it was like no time had passed. On the drive over, between sets and at an extended breakfast afterwards, we fell into conversation easily, about our careers, our families, our children, our "sometimes-attempts" to capture that competitive spirit from the swimming careers of our youth and young adulthood. Though some of the pools on this 1001 pools journey fade into the background, my time with Jacob at the Centro Deportivo Israelita, pool #374, is one of the swimming memories that I'll never forget.
Jacob, let's hope it doesn't take us another 30 years to see each other again!