Mexico City: Tacos & Tequila, My Friends!
This was another one of those months where I had perhaps some of my highest highs and lowest lows!
& just so I can get these out of the way, these are my lows and dislikes...
There are definitely aspects of Mexico City and the culture that I don't like. Firstly, I don't think I could ever live anywhere that I can't drink the tap water - call that #firstworldproblems, but I don't care. I have not puked from being sick (ie. not alcohol-related) since I was a kid and I did here. I was being VERY careful. I either drank bottled water or my from my Life Straw. I only bought pre-cleaned veggies and I frankly never at them raw at home. I hardly ever ate street food. I was really really careful and I still got the sickest I have been on Remote Year. And as I type this from our new workspace in Lisbon, I'm still not fully recovered from my illness 2 weeks ago. Oh, and don't even get me started on the smog and pollution in Mexico City. The first time I went on a run, I was coughing so damn hard that I could only make it about 1km.
I was OVER the Mexico City "soundtrack" as our city team put it by the time I left. At seemingly all hours of the day, someone is selling something at street level and they feel the need to announce it to all the buildings above, and loudly! It was so flipping irritating when you're trying to work, sleep, or just watch something without headphones. They'd announce over loud speakers. They'd announce by these incredibly loud whistles. They'd do like a fricken jungle call. It was madness. And I was OVER it by the time we left.
I also hate that, even when you're inside a cafe or a restaurant, peddlers still make there way inside and try to sell you stuff. I cannot tell you how many times we would be diligently working and some person would come up to us and try to sell us something. This included musicians who would stop outside of business, play, and then make their way inside and ask you to pay them. So. fricken. irritating. And I felt like an asshole when I didn't pay. Awkward.
Okay, Rant over.
I did love mexico city and had so many great moments & experiences, so let's start chatting about them!
Hot air BALLOONS over teotihuacan!
At the end of our first full week in Mexico City, we all woke up at the ass-crack of dawn, rolle into buses and drove about an hour outside Mexico City (CDMX for short) and headed to Teotihuacan. The jist of what we would be doing? Hot air ballooning over pyramids, followed by a buffet breakfast and a tour of the pyramids.
I was excited! Like really excited. I actually don't know if I've ever been on a hot air balloon prior to this, but I remember them landing on the big field across the street from my house when I was a really little kid. I remember them being really amazing, but damn, being up in them? That's like next level.
We were the first hot air balloon to take off. It was sunrise, just like you can see in that first picture of the slideshow to the left. And as soon as we started rising off the ground, I was giddy. There is something so freaking majestic about being in the air in a hot air balloon. They soundlessly, effortlessly float through the air. No hum of airplane engines disrupting your peace. Just the periodic sound of the flames whooshing into the balloon. And then... silence!
I snapped photos like crazy for the first half of the ride, determine to get some sun flares of the hot air balloons careening through the dimly lit morning. I'm glad to say I did. But the best part? When I put my camera down and just breathed and listened. Listened to nothing. Breathed the cleanest air I'd breathed since we landed in Mexico. It was magic.
We had a champagne toast toward the end of our ride and then watched, entertained, as the hot air balloon workers literally chased our balloon down as we picked out a decent landing spot. Then, it was back to our buffet breakfast where I stuffed my face because I didn't know when we would be eating again. Then, we headed to Teotihuacan. The pyramids were awesome. There aren't a ton of pyramids that you can climb in Mexico anymore, so you best believe that I made sure I got to the top of this one! We spent the rest of the day exploring, checking out the smaller pyramids, checking out the awesome, very touristy tank tops (sorry not sorry), before piling back into the bus and heading back to CDMX.
This day was magic. One of my favorites of my Remote Year experience. It was the closest to that pinch me moment I felt riding horses through the sierras outside of Cordoba so many months ago. I will never forget it! And if you're in Mexico and have any time to make the trip outside of the city, definitely make this a must-see! It was incredible!
Volcano crater Hike at nevado de toluca
Hiking at altitude still intimidates the hell out of me! You'd think I'd be over it after Salkantay, but I'm apparently not! Anyways, let's just say that this hike, altitude or not was cake. It was like exactly what you want a leisurely hike to be. Granted we didn't walk the 30km round trip to get to the trailhead. We took a truck. And in approaching the hike that way, it was perfect. Not overly intense and a great view. I mean, you're legit inside the crater of a dormant volcano! We even had some of the crazies in our group - four to be exact - decide to go for a dip in the frigid waters! It was days like today that reminded why I love hiking and how much I want it to be a part of my life!
Definitely check out this hike if you're a hiking fiend, you want to be sure to hike one of Mexico's 4th tallest peaks and/or hiking a crater inside a volcano sounds badass! But don't pull a me - you're still at altitude and it's still cold, even if you're in Mexico! So don't be a dummy like me and be sure to bring layers!
Lucha Libre + Behind the scenes
I finally understand WWE. I'm almost 30 and I finally get why people love it. Because as much as I thought this would be stupid and ridiculous, this night was SO DAMN FUN!
When we arrived, we were ushered backstage where we were given a guided tour by a local History PhD student that was a friend of one of our city team members in Mexico. He walked us around the stadium, told us some lucha history and some of the history of the arena as well. Then, we went into one of the training areas where some of the luchas showed us how it was done. We did a little warm up with them and some of our members went in the ring and tried out their lucha moves! It was fascinating! But the fun didn't start until we got in the ring. (Also: Note that this is a REmote Year exclusive event. If you're not touring CDMX with RY, you probably won't be able to do this!)
Lucha, probably like WWE though I've never been, is all about theatrics. They flip, they dive, they have heroes and villains. It's a story more than wrestling. Oh and a display of athleticism. While some of the guys in our group appreciated the scantily clad ring girls, I was definitely all about appreciating the man-butts and abs (just being honest!). It was a blast! I yelled! I picked a team or a team member that I liked and cheered them loudly. I laughed and drank beers with my friends. It was a damn good night and I enjoyed it WAY more than I thought I would. So do yourself a favor! Grab some tickets and give Lucha Libre a chance! It is SO FUN!
Concha-making at Sobremesa
I don't think I've done a food-making track with Remote Year since Cordoba! And dang was this a fun one! We went to this amazing building and restaurant called Sobremesa, where there head baker walked us through how to make Concha, a type of sweet bread! It was so fun!
We got to participate in the whole process from making the dough to shaping and prepping it, to making the toppings and then to baking and eating the deliciousness! And because I'm the dork that I am, I made a snowman out of the excess topping! I really enjoyed this event. I think it might be another Remote Year-exclusive, but I wanted to write about it because this building and this experience were amazing and if we'd had more time, we would have gone back for one of their cooking classes! They host classes for $50 wherein you participate in making and then eating a multi-course meal! I definitely would've done it if we had more time in Mexico, but alas we did not! Next time, Mexico! Next time!
Toward the end of the month, I realized that I really hadn't seen a ton of CDMX outside of my adjacent neighborhood and the track events I had participated in! Admittedly, I had been very sick. So, when I finally felt up to it, I decided to go explore Chapultepec. A castle that was centrally located in the heart of CDMX, and only about a 20-30 min walk from my apartment. So, one Saturday afternoon, myself and a friend made the trek! We had great timing too because we were able to get into the Castle for free and tour the place, without over doing it before the castle closed. Not only was the building just beautiful and ornate, but it had so many amazing historical pieces!
I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon. And even though I didn't quite make it to so many of the other stand-out attractions in CDMX, I'm really happy that I was able to make it to this one. If you're in CDMX, there's really no excuse!
cafe vibes + ICE CREAM all over condesa
We stayed in the Condesa neighborhood while we were in Mexico City and oh my goodness, this neighborhood killed it when it came to cafes! There were so many within like a 5-10 min walk that you literally had your pick of great places for coffee, food or to settle in for a solid work day! Thank god, because I had a passionate dislike for our workspace this month!
My favorites? Oh goodness. So hard! I really loved Boicot cafe as an all-around great cafe in the Condesa neighborhood. There food wasn't the best, but the vibe, the coffee and the bake goods were amazing! I also really really enjoyed Cafebreria. I loved the setting of the cafe + library, though that definitely did make this place a lot busier than others and the food was muy bueno! My favorite was having meetings here! Last, but definitely not least, I loved Enhorabuena. I LOVED their food! I didn't have a mad meal here each time I ate here, which was a couple times! Plus, it was on the way to the workspace! Win win!
Lastly, ice cream! We were SPOILED in CDMX with all the gelato and ice cream around, especially the fact that this gem of a gelateria was literally across the street form our apartment - Casa Visconti. If you love good ice cream and a great cafe-style vibe, go to this place. I highly recommended the Coco ice cream or the Mango!
all the running trails
If you're training for a half marathon, Mexico City is definitely not too bad of a place to visit. Okay, ya, smog and air pollution is a thing. And I definitely realized how much my body needed and wanted clean air when we arrived in Portugal, but if there is one thing that CDMX got right, it's running trails in the city. Seriously, the running trails in this city were legit. And they were everywhere!
If you wanted to run through a park, they've got you! And they've got parks of all sizes! Smaller parks for a shorter 3km run, and a huge central park that is where the Chapultepec castle is located!
If you wanted to run on the streets, they've got that too! So many of the streets are literally divided down the center by this incredibly landscaped walkway! There's one by Parque Mexico in the Condesa neighborhood that actually is a perfect running loop! You just hop on and it's probably about a mile or so around! It was perfect for training runs once my body got used to the smog. Ugh I hate that that is even a thing.
Trajineras in Xochimilco
Adios Mexico and Latin America! We always do something special in each city to say farewell, but this was a BIG farewell event! It was not only a farewell to Mexico and CDMX, but it was also a farewell to Latin America and a celebration of our first 6 months of Remote Year! That's right...I'm officially beyond the halfway point of this insane journey!
So, in this month, we decided to do it up right by renting out two trajineras. These boat, which basically resemble gigantic gondolas, were originally meant to transport goods. But, in the town of Xochimilco (no clue how to say that, but that's how you spell it), they've turned trajineras into a tourist industry! And they're a blast! Not only do you launch from this incredibly colorful place with all the touristy kiosks and shops you could dream of, but you pile into the boats, plug in your music to this gigantic speaker and you just chill for a day! We drank beer, we ate food, we even had floating grills come sell us things like corn on the cob and tacos! It was so fun!
And yes, you best believe, we sang our little gringo hearts out to "Don't Stop Believin'" and it was awesome! Thank god for the person who captured all the shenanigans!
The Aurora Cup & World Cup in mexico
Watching the World Cup from a Latin American country is the BEST! I was there when Mexico beat Germany. I wasn't even at a watch party, but you can hear the screams and the celebrations. You can feel the love and the passion. Soccer isn't a sport here. It's a religion. And that's something I can get behind!
Fortunately, that was something my fellow travelers could get behind too! So much so that we organized a soccer tournament within our community to get in the spirit. And to raise a little bit of money to donate this month! It was awesome! Potentially more so because my team one - Tigres Blancas, I love you!!!