Following my Sudan deployment, I had returned home and picked up where I was before I departed, back to managing security guards. I had been given a post at the Department of National Defense in Ottawa where I was for about four weeks before getting notice of Mexico. The Canadian Embassy in Mexico was undergoing renovations and there was a requirement to have guards posted to watch the workers during the evening hours. Having only been home just over a month, this was a difficult decision for myself and the family. It was more money and seemed like a good opportunity. The mission was scheduled for four months with possibility of extending for an additional month or two.
Since Mexico was closer it would be good for the family to come visit and get to see Mexico, so we decided that this would be a go. I departed for Mexico in mid-July to take on this new adventure. For the first week, I was put up in the Nikko Hotel in Polanco (now the Hyatt Regency), which was a good choice. It was within walking distance to the embassy and pretty much everything touristic in the Distrito Federal (DF). Plus the view was spectacular!
The door man at the hotel was really friendly and fortunately spoke English (Spanish was new for me). He gave me my first Spanish lesson when I needed to find a particular store. He told me that if I got lost, to say “Dónde está…” and the name of the shop. Of course, today I am fluently bilingual.
Once I had established myself in DF and was oriented, I was asked to select a good house for myself within a certain budget. I found a nice little haciendain the Dominion Polanco suites, not far from the Nikko Hotel that would be ideal for when my family came to visit.
Now, the Canadian Embassy in DF is a really unique building. Anyone who knows the Star Wars series’, they will know of the Millennium Falcon. This was the space craft of Hans Solo which was the fastest in the galaxy and “was capable of attaining 0.5 past light speed, and that it “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” Well, take a look at the image below and tell me that Canada did not have Star Wars in mind when selecting this as the embassy!
Initially, the time in DF was very slow. I had met the MSO by now, a master corporal in the Canadian forces, who pretty much showed me the ropes. My duties were to basically watch over the embassy during the dark hours while the workers were performing their duties. This became dull rapidly and I could only sit on the roof so long watching the flight path into the Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez.
I then had a chat with the MSO about seeing if there was more to do, since I had already been given embassy duties in Sudan. I was happy that I did ask, as it turned out, the Prime Minister was due to visit and Canada had just imposed new visa requirements on Mexican’s wanting to visit Canada. This was already starting to show in the crowds outside the embassy.
The MSO gave me the task of working on the contingency plans for the embassy for the Prime Minister’s visit. This was great for me as it gave me something more constructive to do during the evening hours while watching the workers tear up carpeting. Still, there seemed to be more time than work on this mission. Having completed the contingency plans, the MSO really did not have anything else for me to do. Since my evenings were occupied at the embassy when required, I spend more time being a tourist.
Mexico City definitely has an air to her and is an amazing city. It quickly became my favorite city and still today holds a top 5 place in my heart. The culture, food, history, and people are amazing and I never really felt insecure. I recall finding a “hole-in-the-wall” dive restaurant called the Luncheria Maria Isabel, that served the best original Mexican food I have ever had.
Unfortunately, during this mission, problems were brewing with the family life. I was starting to learn that being away from home so often was going to have an impact on my married life. I would not realize the full impact on this for another year, but the signs were showing now. For the first time (and only time), I pulled the plug on this mission after two months. In an effort to make family life work, I believed it was time to head home and work on things there. It was definitely too soon after Sudan to be on another mission…but I would not learn from this, as the stories continue.
Next – Sudan (Again)