Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aids 2008 Conference in Mexico City: some advice for tourists.

About the Conference (text from the official site):

"AIDS 2008 will provide many opportunities for the presentation of important new scientific research and for productive, structured dialogue on the major challenges facing the global response to AIDS. Conference organizers are developing a wide variety of session types that meet the needs of various participants and support collective efforts to expand delivery of HIV prevention and treatment to communities worldwide. Central to many of these sessions will be the transfer of knowledge and sharing of best practices.

In addition to the conference sessions there are a number of activities, including satellite meetings, exhibitions, the Global Village and the Cultural Programme, that are integral to delegates’ experience at the conference.

The International AIDS Society is pleased to announce that the AIDS 2008 programme is accredited for 28 credits by the European Union of Medical Specialists-European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (UEMS-EACCME). The UEMS-EACCME, through an agreement with the American Medical Association (AMA), guarantees a transfer of CME credits for participants working and practicing in the United States.

As in accordance with their statutes, the UEMS-EACCME guarantees that all accredited CME activities at AIDS 2008 are of a high educational standard and that that they are free of all commercial or individual forms of bias. Delegates should claim credits only for sessions actually attended. A CME booth will be set up at the conference venue where certificates of CME credit can be obtained by medical professionals seeking them."

The news are that this year the AIDS 2008 Conference will be in Mexico City (3-8 of August 2008). As a Mexican I will like to share some safety advice and destinations with the tourists coming to Mexico City during the conference. Maybe the best approach for doing this is through an example; one of my blog's visitor emailed me asking for advice so I made a map with some places to visit and gave him some safety advice. Below is the map, click to enlarge:

For general security guidelines please visit one of my previous post. The example map is for tourists staying at the Fontana Hotel or any other hotel nearby (in the Av. Paseo de la Reforma vicinity). I painted some red dotted lines in the map, going beyond those limits will be a little dangerous, but if you stay at wide streets at daylight you will be ok. One of the most important advice is not to use regular taxis but "de sitio" taxis which are more expensive but safe. Arriving at the airport use only authorized transportation (buy tickets at international gate's exit) and ask hotel personal about these special taxis called "de sitio".

In the map, marked with numbers are:
  1. The Conference Venue, Centro Banamex, located at 311 of Conscripto Avenue.
  2. "La Condesa" district, there you will find many small restaurants and bars, gardens and some "Soho" like shops. At Mazatlan and Michoacan (and Nuevo Leon) streets you will find a bunch of bars and places to eat and a lot of night life. This district at daylight and until 10 pm is fairly safe.
  3. "Polanco" district is full of expensive shops (designer clothing and accesories), nice gardens, a lot of restaurants (expensive an inexpensive ones), and Masaryk Avenue is great for walking and visiting more exclusive and sofisticated places. Masaryk Avenue is quite safe at daylight and fairly safe at night.
  4. "Antara Polanco" Mall. Inside this Shopping Center you would find fine restaurants and a food court, a lot of different shops (Sony Shop, Armani, Sharper Image, Swarovsky, Body Shop, Zara, Berger jewlery, and more), a Cinema (movie theatres) and a electronic casino called "Playcity". Inside the mall you will be absolutely safe, stores close at 9 pm, but restaurants will be open till midnight.
  5. World Trade Center, Mexico, where you would find a Cinema, some small shops, some restaurants and few bars. This a very transited area and inside the WTC you would be very safe, an at nearby streets it is fairly safe.
  6. "Chapultepec" district. In this green area you would find the "Chapultepec Zoo", the Antropology Museum, a photographic exposition along Reforma Avenue (big images at the street with text insets about Mexico's History and Culture), the Chapultepec Castle, Botanical Garden, the Chapultepec Lake (and the "El Lago" restaurant). Nearby is the Hard Rock Cafe Mexico but I would recommend to visit this district at daylight and take good care of your camera and other belongings, visiting this area at night is not advisable.
Some general (and safety) advice:
  • At Reforma Avenue "Tourism Police" could be found, and could be identified by a white badge across their chest. They are supposed to speak English but I would not count on that one, however you could ask for help or information.
  • Avoid buying things at the street (these are illegal parlors) try to find a little stores like Seven Eleven, or the Mexican version called "OXXO" or "Super-K" if you need to buy some water, soft drinks, fast food or anything else.
  • Never count money at the street
  • Avoid "flashy" equipment or watches, keep your camera or video equipment in a bag and not hanging around your neck.
  • If you need to use the subway please research your route in advance, in order to have a safe trip avoid direct eye contact with people ( I know, sounds awful, but it works keeping you out of any trouble) or being noisy.
  • Never drink tap water, always drink bottled water.
  • Try to look confident and never look lost, you could ask for directions but don't tell people you are lost.
  • In general young wealthy (well dressed) people speak English and will be glad to help you, but if someone offers you to give you a lift wherever you are going maybe the best thing to do is to decline the offer politely; getting in to unknown people's car is always dangerous.
  • wash your hands frequently and before eating anything, try to carry a hand sanitizer.
  • Authorized airport transportation to your hotel will cost between $20 to $30 dollars.
  • The one way trip in "sitio" taxi from your hotel to the Centro Banamex will cost between $4 and $ 6 dollars (regular taxis will cost between $3 to $5 dollars but are not as safe).
  • A complete meal will fluctuate between $6 to $20 dollars (or more, depending the type of restaurant, eat at the street at your own risk).
  • A 20 oz. Coca-Cola will cost about 70 cents.
  • A quart of bottled water about 50-80 cents.
  • A beer will cost between $2 and $ 4 dollars, other drinks are from $4 to $9 dollars
  • Marlboro or Camel cigarretttes (for smokers) will cost about $ 2.50 dollars.
  • A subway ticket is 20 cents of a dollar
During the time of the Conference we will be expecting a lot of tourism so I hope that police will be reinforced to protect everyone. Don't be scared or anxious about coming to Mexico City, it is a great place, full of culture and good people, I hope you enjoy your trip to my dear Country.

Don't forget to visit the Aids 2008 International Conference web page it is full of information about the conference and about Mexico.

For any doubt, or any feedback please leave a comment or send me an email.


The Author said...

Thanks for your helpful advice. I offer a few more tips on my blog:
saludos, jim johnston

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