As far as reality is concerned, this wasn’t really a new day, but merely a long continuation of the previous day where you may remember, dedicated reader, that we were stuck at a very pleasant petrol station. Now that the car was happily slurping up electricity, we turned our thoughts to how we were going to navigate our way through the notorious streets of Mexico City to the downtown area where the KPMG offices were located. We had planned to meet a contact of ours, Elia, just outside Mexico City so that we could follow her for this exact reason, but as we had stopped for charging, we were too late to do so and therefore we needed an alternative method.
And this is where KPMG really stepped up their game in the first of many times to come later this day. They were so determined to have us there as scheduled, that they sent a taxi all the way out to meet us at the petrol station, wait for us, and then guide us in! It was a fantastic idea, and when we were ready to leave at 2.30am, the taxi driver was waiting for us and ready to go.
Very shortly after setting off, we entered some of our worst weather yet; dense fog and heavy rain combined with complete darkness aside from the headlights of the huge trucks bearing down all around us. But the taxi driver kept close, and with his hazard lights on, guided us into the third largest city in the world. And wow, did we need the guidance! The road twisted and turned under and over other roads, and the intricacies of the one-way system were thankfully avoided as the experienced taxi driver plucked a direct route through the maze with the incredible dexterity of a seasoned professional.
As the fog and rain lifted, a hint of the full scale of the city could be observed; lights of houses and streets stretched until the far distance where the black outline of the mountains could be seen. It’s difficult to convey the shear size of what lay before us; perhaps the daylight pictures included in the Photos section of the website will help demonstrate the magnitude of this city which is home to over 22 million individuals!
After around half an hour of city driving, KPMG’s skyscraper loomed in the distance, and shortly after, we were there! The time was 4.30am, just 3 and a half hours before we were supposed to be there, but nonetheless we had made it despite huge setbacks. The team was ecstatic, you only have to take a look at Claudio’s video of the escapade to see the relief on our faces! Yes we were tired; we had pushed ourselves beyond the point of exhaustion, but that didn’t matter anymore…this was a major milestone for the project which cannot be understated, and can only be contributed to the teams’s extreme dedication and stamina combined with the support of our numerous sponsors!
Upon arriving at KPMG’s Mexican HQ, we met with a whole bunch of staff who had eagerly waited for us to arrive despite the late hour…it was touching to find so many people who had given up their evening and precious sleep to greet this strange foreign convoy! But it was only a hint of what was to come tomorrow…
After greeting everybody, the priority was to get the car into the building and then try and catch a few moments of golden sleep. KPMG also had the generosity to organise and pay for a great hotel just 10 minutes away so that we could quickly get back to the office for the event which was due to start at 8am. And so it was a relieved team RGE that headed to the hotel and crashed for just 2 hours of sleep.
Before we knew it, all our alarm clocks simultaneously awoke us from our slumber, and where we normally have a period of snooze-button-pressing to ease us into the the land of the living, on this occasion we bounced out of bed as today promised to be very interesting indeed!
A quick taxi ride brought us back to the KPMG offices where we were mere hours before, but this time we were looking slightly more presentable in our smart shoes and RGE shirts and jackets. On the steps of the office, Rosia from KPMG warmly greeted us and took us in to meet Claudia, Jessica and Monica; the whole crew who had orchestrated today’s events and every other interaction of our involvement with KPMG while we were in MC. What a great bunch of ladies! I will thank them again later in these blogs, but I should say right now how helpful and friendly they have been, and what a great time they have given us!
Anyway, in true mothering instinct, Rosia instantly spotted the hungry boys within us, and quickly ushered us up to the 17th floor to a private dining room which was already laid with a sumptuous breakfast of empadillas and fruit. A waiter was dispatched to organise some coffee, and we began the process of reenergising ourselves! Here we were joined by several of the company’s partners who were due to spend the day with us, and we spent a happy hour acquainting ourselves with the personal and the day’s schedule which looked rigorous but very rewarding.
Before going down to greet the media, Rosia showed us the 17th floor roof terrace where we had a view of the entire city. Our observation of the city last night proved to be a real understatement of how gigantic this city really is. MC is located on what used to be a giant lake, and as such rests in a depression surrounded by a ring of mountains, some of which are volcanoes. And within this ring of mountains, the city fills every single nook and cranny; occasionally a patch of greenery could be spotted amidst the concrete jungle, but in all other respects, man’s influence dominated as far as the eye could see; truly an epic vista!
The time for preliminaries was now over however, and it was time to go down to the events room where the car was parked and where the country’s press was currently assembled. We were lead into the room and introduced by a voice over a microphone, and before we knew it, action music started blaring out from the speakers, a video of the project started playing on one of the 8 screens dotted around the room, spotlights trained on us as we walked in, and everybody started clapping and snapping away on their cameras! A world famous rock star could not have hoped for a more exciting, genuine and charged reception! In all honesty, we were blown away. The room was jam-packed with press, and over the coming hour there was a queue of people lining up to take photos with the team and the car. It was incredible!
Next up were the speeches where Guillermo, Jorge, Jésus and Albrecht, senior partners at KPMG expunged the qualities of KPMG and why they have decided to align themselves with our project and other responsible initiatives. Clemens and I were then invited to give off-the-cuff addresses of how the project started and some of our experiences of the trip so far. We were very well received by the audience, with Clemens winning them over with his glowing enthusiasm. A number of very pertinent questions followed, after which we were back at the car for more photos.
This was a huge amount to fit in in just a morning, but as soon as the last of the press and KPMG employees who were invited to meet the team and see the car had left, we were due up on the 17th floor again for some lunch. On this occasion, we were invited into the partners dining room; an expansive room with an unparalleled view across the city. Here we were invited to delegates from the British Embassy as well as soon students from a local university who were also building an electric car. We enjoyed a sumptuous lunch with them as well as the senior partners, and it was a shame that we had to call it short at 3.30pm and return downstairs for a repeat of this morning’s session, but instead of press, we were joined by a select group of KPMG’s clients. Again, it was a very enjoyable event, and time raced ahead until 6.30pm when the last of the attendees had left.
Phew….what a day!
But it wasn’t over yet! After a quick nap back at the hotel, we were ready to see what Mexican nightlife had to offer. You may think that we are a bunch of absolute lunatics for going out after 2 days of extremely limited sleep, but we couldn’t let a Friday night in MC go to waste! So at 10pm, Jessica picked us up and took us out to a genuine style Mexican restaurant in the centre along with some other KPMG employees that have been involved with the project. The food and atmosphere was absolutely fantastic, and it was topped off by a surprise belated celebration of Andy’s birthday where he got his face smeared in some sort of black paste and then face planted into his cake. Apparently that’s what you do here.
In true Latin style, we finished dinner at around 1am and then decided to head over to the city’s most well known club; El Classico. In the US, you wouldn’t even bother going out at this time because everything would be closed, but here, things were only just getting started! The rest of the night was spent dancing away in a very spirited fashion, and it was not until much later that morning did any one of us find our way to bed. Truly an epic way to begin our stay in Mexico City!
Once again, on behalf of the team, I would like to thank the whole KPMG crew for making our stay so enjoyable and for such a popular and well organised event!