Mexico City: Part One
Greetings from the Mexico City airport! I’m currently waiting to board my flight back to Los Angeles after spending five lovely days in the fifth largest city in the world. I’m really happy with all that I got to do and see in this five days but there is definitely so much more to do in both the city and Mexico more broadly. Here’s a quick rundown of the first couple of days of my trip.
I arrived in Mexico City around 1pm on Tuesday and went to meet my friend Newton at his job near the city center. After touching base with him for a bit, I went off to explore the city on foot for a couple of hours while he went to a meeting. I ended up walking (and getting lost) for about 2 hours and 40 minutes. There was so much to take in.
One of the first things that I noticed about Mexico City was the noise. As I walked through the city, there were all kinds of sounds – different kinds of music blended with the sounds of chaos that characterize most large cities. As I walked from one block to another, I was gifted with a new soundtrack through which to take in the space. About an hour and a half into my walk (right around the time that I started to realized how far away I was from Newton’s job) it started pouring raining. It drizzled for a minute or two and then it quickly sped up and before I knew it, sheets of water were coming from the sky. Even though I was wearing my rain jacket and had an umbrella, I was still pretty soaked. It was incredible to see the city this way, though. The people scattering, trying to find some form of shelter, the sidewalk shop owners quickly closing up shop until the rain lightened up, the already insane traffic becoming even more intense. Perhaps it’s because I love cities or because I had only been in this new place for a few hours, but I thoroughly enjoyed this moment. There was something fun about hopping through puddles with strangers in a new city. After my rain adventures, I finally found my way back to Newton’s job and we went for dinner at this cute little spot in the Roma neighborhood.
I slept in my first morning in hopes of getting the most out of the day. Once I got going, I had a nice breakfast/brunch at Newton’s place and then grabbed an Uber to the Frida Khalo museum.
I absolutely loved this site. I learned a lot about Khalo’s life/art through the exhibits but also through the space itself. The museum is what used to be Frida and Diego Rivera’s home. On an aesthetic level, it’s gorgeous but the built features of the space also revealed important information about Khalo herself – her personality and her struggles with her body.
After spending about an hour or so here, I stocked up on souvenirs and took a stroll about the surrounding area. I wound up at this incredible park, called Vivero Coyocan. If I had to mark the moment when I fell in love in Mexico City, this would be it. There is something about well-designed urban green space that gets me every time. I grabbed a seat on a tree trunk and just sat and people-watched for thirty minutes or so before getting my arse in gear again.
I dropped by this lovely nursery that I had seen from the window of my uber on my way to the museum and then made my way to the nearest subway station.
So I take it back. If I had to choose the moment where I fell in love with Mexico City, it would be the moment that I got on the subway. Public transit is one of my favorite things to experience in a new city. It’s a quotidian experience that I hold near and dear (hence the dissertation). I got on the 9 subway line a bit after 3pm and it was PACKED. I was able to get on the first train that came but I was tightly wedged into the standing room space between the doors on either side of the car. For 8 stops I watched people getting on and off – elbowing their way through the closing doors, maneuvering their bodies between the countless others that was squished into the car, strategically negotiating space with their bodies so that they could achieve some base level of comfort. There is a certain cut-throat public transit culture in Mexico City that I absolutely loved. There seemed to be unique social code operating within this space – one that was not concerned with feelings and certainly not with physical/spatial barriers. Despite being void of emotion, this space was extremely intimate as people pressed themselves against each other to avoid having to wait for the next train. Sometimes my skin would briefly make contact with that of someone near me, both of us sticky from a lack of A/C, and while we would both make an effort to unstick ourselves, we ultimately grew content with the reality that we were stuck together until the train stopped and the crowd shifting into a new configuration.
Despite my romanticization of the grimy subway scene, coming up out of the station was a beautiful reprieve. This is especially true because I was right near the Alameda Central Park. Again, I must give la Cuidad de Mexico kudos for its green space. I sat down on a bench and got in touch with my friend Sayantan who was coming back into Mexico City after traveling to other parts of the country. One of my yoga buddies (S/O to Sergio) recommended El Califa to me for tacos and it turned out that Sy was on his way there so I reentered the subway to go meet him.
I pretty much inhaled these tacos. They were so delicious and much needed after a day or trekking around the city.
After tacos, we took a stroll around the Condesa neighborhood, which is really cute. We decided to stop at the restaurant that Newton and I had been to the night before for drinks and dessert.
Following this pit stop, we walked over to Ladina, a bar where one of Newton’s friends bartends and hung out with him for a while. This bar served as somewhat of a homebase for Sy and I throughout our trip. Great drinks. Great atmosphere. And lovely people.
Around 9:30 or so, we headed back to Newton’s place, which was a 30-45 minutes drive from the city center, depending on traffic. We had to rest up for the next few days or our adventure.
So much to write about! Be back with the rest in a few days.