Mary and I kicked off 2017 with a vacation to Mexico City, a place I had no clear perception of before we arrived. I’m glad we went. It’s an absolutely beautiful city.
Mary found us a nice place through Airbnb in the Roma Norte neighborhood. The location made us feel like locals rather than tourists. Here’s our studio apartment during the trip:
Unfortunately that bed was like sleeping on a wooden platform with maybe a thin pad on top. I usually prefer a bed on the firmer side, but this was next level. At least there was pleasant wall art to look at while you unlock your spine in the morning.
We had a full kitchen, if small – but that oven is the type that you have to manually light before each use. Through the power of the internet, we learned to go against our strongest human instincts: Turn on the gas, open the oven, light a match, and stick the open flame into a hole inside the most incendiary appliance in the kitchen. And our eyebrows lived to tell the tale.
Not pictured here is the washer/dryer in a closet to the left. It’s a stand-alone unit where, in theory, it will wash and dry your clothes in that one machine. The “dry” cycle was more of a “heat and turn” cycle. It took roughly 4 hours to get our clothes from ‘sopping wet’ to ‘pretty damp’.
Two things kept me from wanting to live this life full-time: 1 – brushing my teeth with bottled water. And 2 – not being allowed to flush toilet tissue. These are logistical challenges best left to people with more patience than me.
Open the shades to our floor to ceiling windows, and it’s easy to want to get outside and see the world:
This is Mary heading out of our apartment building. The locks were serious. You have to use the key to unlock the door from the inside and then re-lock it once outside – and it takes several full turns of the key to fully engage all the locking mechanisms. People talk about crime in Mexico, and the closest we got to even suggestions of it were locks like these, and a fairly substantial police presence. Most of the places we went felt very safe.
We really enjoyed walking around the neighborhood. There was plenty to see within a few blocks. Here, a crowd gathers around a steaming food cart.
There were some really nice parks nearby. They were like mini-sanctuaries and offered so much greenery in January.
To see the world outside of the Roma Norte neighborhood, we could walk for 15 minutes and be in the downtown area, or we could call an Uber, which was incredibly affordable there. One thing we weren’t expecting was the crazy traffic. Not only did the congestion during rush hour rival the San Francisco Bay Area, the general rules of the road (including traffic signals) were regarded with the same level of respect one might offer to the late Rodney Dangerfield. Police would line the intersections to make sure vehicles didn’t just blow through the lights.
Here’s a small slice of the things we saw just walking around town:
We did venture to some places that weren’t accessible on foot. We took a 45 minute Uber ride ($16 US dollars!) to Teotihuacán, an ancient Mesoamerican city full of pyramids. The largest of these structures, the Pyramid of the Sun, is thought to have existed since AD 100. This is an excellent place for anyone looking for a good stair workout. (I’m almost never looking for a stair workout, good or otherwise.)
A day of rest followed the endurance test that was Teotihuacán, and then we experienced the home of Frida Kahlo, now a museum. I hadn’t studied Frida’s work or her life, and I was struck by how much she went through, and how much she challenged social norms. There was a long line outside which you can skip if you’ve purchased your tickets online.
My favorite part of the museum was Frida’s studio, a bright, airy space with her paints, brushes, wheelchair, and other interesting things.
I didn’t know that Frida had so many health issues, complicated further by a horrible vehicular accident as a young-adult. Here, a drawing in her diary depicts her relationship with her body and its maladies.
This was Frida Kahlo’s death bed, where a representation of her lays in memoriam.
At Mary’s insistence, we also experienced Lucha Libre – a huge, cartoonish, wrestling event in Mexico City that some say is bigger than the WWE. It’s also where I learned the word “maricon,” which was yelled by a spectator at one of the wrestlers, and which regrettably ended up in my Google Translate history afterward. (And now it’s in this blog post, further illustrating my questionable judgement.)
Unfortunately cameras were not permitted at this event, so in lieu of pictures, here are our tickets. And if you’re worried that we overpaid – don’t be. $120 pesos is just a little over $6 USD.
I did sneak a picture with my phone. This is one of the more flamboyant wrestlers making his entrance flanked by scantily clad women. I believe he was wearing some type of bird costume.
We saw so much during this trip that I’m having trouble not sharing it all. I’ll wrap this up with a few favorites – our visit to El Moro, (a wonderful churro shop), Zócalo, Monument a la Revolución, and Bosque de Chapultepec.
And finally, we discovered a view from the roof of our apartment the night before our departure. It was a pleasing send-off to a beautiful Mexico City experience.