Mexico City. Day 2 and 3. Taking Care of Children

As you may have guessed from the title of the posts, I’ve originally intended to make a post everyday for the week I’m here.

While there are millions of exciting things happening, unfortunately, between 23 hours of making/fixing/blowing up robots and 3 hours of sleep a day, there’s hardly any time left for blogging in my 26 hours days. Heck, I just took my first shower in 36 hours (don’t tell anyone!).

Our second day here, Sunday, was meant to be our first (only) free day to explore the city a bit. That was the plan anyways. Turned out, we spent the whole day at our hostel “lobby” building/fixing robots.

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The atmosphere was great and very relaxing. Have you tried doing intense electronics debugging at a cafe? You should!

And later, we were joined by 2 teams from Germany, with whom we were supposed to have dinner, but didn’t work out due to some logistics issues.

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(By the way, what’s with Germans and beer?)

Day 3 (Monday, June 18) –

Monday was the first day we went to the actual venue for the event for registration and setup (actual competition starts on Wednesday).

At 7am in the morning, we got picked up by a van and driven from our hostel to the venue (International Exhibition and Convention Center of the World Trade Center of Mexico), and 11pm at night we get driven back.
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The 30-40 minutes rides are pretty nice, and offered us great view of Mexican streets, without exposing ourselves to all the badness outside.

If you have played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, you probably remember the scene where a man was driven through a middle eastern city to be executed at a plaza.

The ride through Mexico City feels more or less like that. A lot of poverty, old buildings (that are pretty unique), and just general unmaintained-ness of the city. Except no one was firing a machine gun at us…

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At the venue, we ended up spending about half an hour registering everyone. It was fairly chaotic, but cool to see how so many people are so passionate about robotics. I heard there were about 3000 participants, from universities all over the world.

We then proceeded to spend the entire day fixing/improving our robots and trying to get them ready for the games starting on Wednesday.

There were some hurdles to overcome on the electrical side, but we made great progress, and I’m confident that we will have an awesome team of mechanical minions on Wednesday to dominate the world for us. And maybe make us sandwiches.

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Tomorrow – more robot fixing!!

PS. Why children? I have no idea. Our dear friend Andrea wrote that in our itinerary, and it took me a few eternities to figure out what that’s supposed to mean!

Happy hunting!

Mexico City, Day 1 – Traveling, Resisting Temptation to Get Lost

Thunderbots have just arrived at Mexico City for Robocup 2012! (An annual humongous robot soccer competition and robotics symposium).

Most of the team took off from Vancouver on an unearthly hour, while I took a nice long night’s sleep (after an evening of barbarian packing) and flew out of San Jose at 10am to join them at Dallas, Texas, from where we all flew to Mexico City.

For some reason, I really like to visit airports and see how they differ. Airports are usually nicely decorated to represent the local culture, and also have cool planes to look at!

The Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (KDFW) was pretty nice. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take pictures because due to various delays on my first flight, I had 20 minutes to run from one end of the airport to the other to catch my second flight.

The Mexico City International Airport, though, is a totally different story. It’s about the least civilized airport I’ve seen in a very long time (even my home airport, Reid-Hillview Airport is nicer!). Leaky ceiling, and FULL of crowd. It’s like Asia happened.

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It was already 8pm when we got to Mexico City, so we took a shuttle/van/thing to the hostel, and had a chance to look at Mexican streets along the way.

The hostel we are living in is right next to a cathedral, and Presidential Palace.

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It looks kind of ghetto, but it’s actually PRETTY nice (last time we went to a competition, we had 4 guys sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags in someone’s dorm room… definitely an improvement =P). It’s clean, and we have individual beds. What more can you ask for? (maybe clean drinking water… but that’s easily fixed).

And first dinner! –

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Pretty good! Or maybe I was hungry. Didn’t like the beer too much, but then again I don’t like most beer.

General impression of the city – there are A LOT of police officers, and we have been told by “someone in the know” that our hostel sits between the “good part” and “bad part” of the city, and we should never go to the wrong side, because bad things happen there.

In general, though, the people we met seemed nice, and it looks like the city could potentially be habitable with some local knowledge.

And it’s really useful to know Spanish. And I don’t :(.

Tomorrow – fixing robots, fixing robots, and some more fixing robots. And maybe meet the Georgia Tech team for dinner (or exchange of kidneys or something).

Good night!

PS. It’s kind of annoying that Google keeps switching to Spanish…