Now we're in Mexico City!
"Now we're in Mexico City!" This was about the only thought my exhausted mind could form when we touched down at the airport. Less than 36 hours after landing back in Boston from the West Coast -- most of which had been spent asleep and switching socks in my bag -- I was back at Logan airport.
My fatigue wasn't helped by the fact that we'd booked ourselves on a flight that required us to leave our house at 4am. And before you think "why didn't they just not go a day after Lloyd went to LA?" let me explain.
We'd been scheduled to go to Mexico City last month, but "the worst snowstorm of the year" had cancelled our flight. Which made the snow's impact on this trip all the more ironic. More on that much later. In our immediate panic of trying to rebook flights for our prized vacation, we'd settled on the days I had off for Spring Break that I wasn't using for anything else. It did make sense.
Honestly, the tiredness probably wouldn't have been too bad had we not decided to take a sunrise tour of the pyramids of Teotihuacan the day after we landed, making my schedule "~6 hour flight, 12 hours sleep, 3am wake up + ~6 hours of flight, and 5am wake up" in the span of one week.
But enough bitching about my traveling. This is literally the life I've chose, and not everything can be awesome all the time. So back to the present. We'd just touched down in Mexico, and Lia had already been taken aside by customs to prove that she wasn't a drug mule because she looks so nefarious.
Once she made it through to join her trustworthy-looking boyfriend, we found a kiosk to buy a sim card for her phone, and I was able to break out the Spanish I'd spent the past ~100 days practicing on the Duolingo app. I was able to say the only two crucial words in the transaction ("card for my phone"), we bought the first of what would be a veritable rainforest of water bottles, and the adventure began in earnest!
Our first experience with Mexico City traffic was on our drive from the airport to our Airbnb. While we were sat in gridlock, I had ample opportunity to look around and take in the less-than-pristine conditions, and I was rapidly reminded of how fortunate everyone is in the USA, and what people mean when they talk about that higher quality of life that people have there.
Not that where we were driving through was especially crappy, but the buildings were old, a little ramshackle, and generally grubby from wear and pollution. Weirdly, the bright paint with which so much of the city's architecture was covered had an odd effect of neutralising everything negative and giving whole blocks cheery dispositions. It was an odd dichotomy.
Our neighbourhood was lovely though. We spent the first afternoon just stretching our legs and getting our bearings in La Condesa, where our Airbnb was located. Most of the streets had a densely tree-covered mall running down the middle, making wanderings a genuine pleasure. I was staggered at how green and lush everything was, as it made no sense to me that a city of this size - and water deprived - could be so saturated with nature, trees, and plants. It was truly one of the most lovely parts of any city neighbourhoods I'd been in.
Immediately we were quite taken with the plethora of coffee shops, cute stores, eateries, and hip boutiques that stretched down either side of the canopy's ground level. We got our first authentic churros on our way to a taco spot we'd been reading up on, and the weather was the perfect temperature. We sat out on the sidewalk as we ate just to enjoy the warmth and outdoor life that has ceased in Boston for the season.
We reached our taco destination, and my shaky Spanish's first test was administered. I wouldn't say it was going badly, but the sense of relief I felt when a local standing next to us repeated the server's question in English was telling.
But we had tacos! And they were good tacos! And I had a Mexican Coke in Mexico. Things were good. And then we met Tom!
Tom was a fellow Brit who gave me a weird look as he reached for a communal napkin dispenser, suspecting, I suspect, that the pasty redhead shoving a taco in his face was not a native Mexican. We struck up a conversation (in English -- the Queen's, no less!) and it turned out he'd also left the UK a number of years ago, and had lived in New York and San Francisco, before coming down here several weeks ago. He was only supposed to be here for a few days, but he enjoyed it so much he ended up staying for months. He'd been writing a book about Mezcal, a local alcohol product which is tough to get outside of the area. He was also wearing socks with cannabis leaves on them. We liked Tom.
We walked further, into a small park where we watched a dog chase a ball being flung for him back and forth across a large white courtyard, as we sipped the Coca Cola.
We'd been disappointed to see in the week leading up to our trip that the weather was looking like it was going to be a washout. Rain was forecast for each day. As we were in the park, seeing people making out everywhere we turned (seemed to be a thing in Mexico City. Parks were the place to be for the makeout seshes), the sky began to look more threatening. We began heading back into the tree cover and opportunity-to-dash-into-a-cool-store-laden neighbourhood.
A few brief stops later, we ended up at a ridiculously cute tea shop, where we split an apple pie (that I was able to identify as apple by using my vast Spanish vocabulary) and a brew. We lingered for a long time though. It was a lovely space, but more importantly, the rain that had been forecast to plague our entire trip had begun.