Tens of thousands of Oakland Raider fans travel to Mexico City to root for the Silver and Black. Look over the shoulder of a life-long Raider fan as she makes a memorable trip south to root for the Raiders in the Mexican capital.
Leylani Medina is from Salinas, California, but she currently lives in San Diego. She has been a Raiders fan her entire life.
Leylani grew up in a Raiders household. Probably her biggest influences were her older sister and brother-in-law, who always dressed her in Raiders apparel when she was a kid.
Leylani doesn’t belong to any fan clubs, but she does hang out with the San Diego Raider Nation Nomads, a Raiders fan club based in San Diego, California.
Leylani is one of tens of thousands of football fans from around the United States and Mexico that traveled to Mexica City to attend a classic match up between the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca.
Unable to travel to Mexico and attend the game myself, I asked Leylani to share with me her experiences: how she got there, the hotel she stayed at, the sightseeing she did, the food she ate, and, of course, the game!
- What would the mood be like in a stadium filled with 87,000 fans?
- How would the fans react when the American national anthem was played?
- Which team would be the crowd's favourite: the Houston Texans or the Oakland Raiders?
Leylani says Houston fans thought they would prevail since they were geographically closer to Mexico City than Oakland.
Were the Texans in for a surprise?
My interview with Leylani follows ...
How did you get to Mexico City? Didn't you say you went by way of Tijuana? How did that work out?
I live in San Diego so we just took the flight from TJ. We got dropped off at the Border and took a cab to the airport.
On the way back, we used the new border crossing that is called CBX (Cross Border Express).
You pay about US$16 and you walk three minutes from TJ airport to the US. It's quick and easy, no hassle.
We had family members waiting for us. We used a cheap airline called VivaAerobus, but we had no type of problems. I would give it five stars out of five.
There were bad reviews on their old planes, but we did fly on newer planes. Everything went smooth and saved us about US$600 flying from TJ rather than the US.
Did you travel independently or in a group? If in a group, what was the mood like on the trip down?
I traveled with two other friends from San Diego, as well. But the whole flight to Mexico City was filled with Raider fans and a few 49ner fans and one Charger fan, ha ha!
It was an awesome flight. Everyone chanted Raiiiderrss as the plane took off and landed.
Met a group of friends from LA, who actually stayed in the same hotel that we did, and we were on the same flight back. That was pretty cool!
The only thing missing was for the pilot to say, “Go Raiders!” over the loudspeaker!
Where did you stay? What was the hotel like?
We stayed in a hotel called Fiesta Inn Periferico Sur (Periférico Sur 5530 Col. Pedregal de Carrasco, Mexico City, Mexico. Telephone: +52 (55) 50 96 93 00).
It was really nice with great service. It was a 15-minute walk to the stadium. We did it on purpose since we knew it would probably be hard to getting a cab after the game and we would have to walk.
It was far from the airport and other places, but it’s because the city is so big. Everything was 30 to 45 minutes away, and we were forced to get a cab every time.
The good thing about the hotel was we were next door to a mall, a Walmart/Costco type of store, and some really good hole-in-the-wall restaurants, which made up for it.
How many days/nights did you stay in Mexico City? Did you do any sightseeing?
On Sunday, we got to go on a tour to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, the Zocalo (the main square in the centre of Mexico City), and the Basilica (of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Roman Catholic church in the north of Mexico City).
The tour wasn't the greatest.
It seemed a little bit rushed due to how busy it was that day in Mexico City.
Otherwise, I'm glad we got to do the tour because alone I don't think we would have gotten to do all of that for the price in one day. It would have been nice if we had had an extra day to do more sightseeing in Mexican City. There was much more I would have liked to see such as some of the museums.
What was the food like? How does it compare to the Mexican food you’ve had in the United States?
The food was delicious. I'm from Mexican decent and I'm used to having Mexican food, so it wasn't something very surprising to eat delicious food.
What was surprising was the price that we were paying. Sometimes they would see Americans or people whom are not nationals and tend to up the price, but we didn't have that.
We were eating for three people for way less than US$20 including alcohol, and the plates were huge.
We did go to a place near el Zocalo in downtown Mexico, where it was almost US$100 for three called Cafe de Tacuba (Tacuba 28 Centro, Mexico City, Mexico. Telephone: 01 55 5521 2048), but it was definitely worth it.
Did people in Mexico City seem to be aware of the game?
People did seem to be aware. Many of the locals especially kids would stop us to take pictures or they would see us walking by with our Raider gear and they would say, "Go Raiders", "Raiiderrrsss", or "Here come the Raiders".
It was an awesome feeling!
Were there any kinds of events going on such as what they had in London a couple of years back?
There were plenty of events. I wish they would have been a little more organized. I had to find out what was going on from other fans.
I didn't attend any of the events besides the ones we did at our hotel. Our hotel was filled with Raider fans, and we would stay up late just hanging out by the bar.
I do wish we would have had a parade like we did in London or how they had it in New Orleans or Baltimore. Would have been nice.
The tailgating … I heard we had to buy tickets in advance to be able to tailgate so we didn't get too do that.
What about game day? What was it like? Since it was a night game, what did you do before the game?
We got out of there OK, but we were running late and didn't get out of there till almost 2.30 pm, and it took us almost an hour to get back in to the hotel.
We took a nap before we walked to the game and made sure our phones were charged.
Many Raider fans were walking down, and I think it was the Raiders who were in busses being escorted to the stadium that we saw. We will never know for sure if it was the Raiders being driven to the stadium in those busses or not.
What was the atmosphere like in the stadium?
The game atmosphere was incredible! About 80% of the fans were going for the Raiders, 10% were going for the Texans, and the other 10% were people just attending the game.
Everyone was so pumped! I couldn't believe we were finally there and our tickets had worked.
The stadium was so loud. The boos towards the Texans were super loud.
Things got heated between a couple of Texan fans and Raider fans, but nothing violent.
One of the major highlights for me was the national anthems. They were both just breathtaking and imagine seeing that many Raider fans that had traveled from the US!
I only wonder how our boys felt to play in a stadium in another country and having everyone root for them?
There are no words to explain what I felt. It was truly amazing!
What was it like after the game was over?
After the game was chaos!!!! That's where many people including us got robbed.
Everyone started pushing each other like a stampede. You hardly had room to breathe, and unfortunately many people lost phones, wallets, and other valuables.
It's hard to feel someone going in your pockets if you are in that situation. But we finally got out of there.
We tried getting a taxi to drive us five or 10 minutes, but the driver was trying to charge us almost US$20.
We decided to walk and it was OK. There were plenty of police all over the area and plenty of people walking the same direction.
We got to the hotel and of course everyone was hanging out downstairs.
We met up with other friends we met on the plane and ended up going to eat down the road. The night didn't end until 3 am.
Would you recommend Mexico City as a travel destination? Do you have any tips for visitors to the city?
I do recommend Mexico City. When it comes to public transportation, stick to Uber (I didn't try it, but heard it was wonderful) and taxis.
Definitely do a tour or two. It's worth it! Hopefully, it won’t be as busy as it was this weekend so it won't be as rushed.
Keep your things in your pockets or in your inner clothing. Take advantage of the safes in the rooms.
Ask your taxi drivers for the good places to eat. And make sure you know the zones that you’re not supposed to go to. We got lucky, but not everyone is lucky...
Would you attend other NFL games played outside the United States?
I definitely know that if the Raiders play anywhere else out of the US, I would be there! Go Raaiderrrssss!!!
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