And just like that, I’m into the last month of Remote Year (be prepared for a month of nostalgia). But, MEXICO, WHAT’S UP!? Also, hola 2020! 2019 was a hell of a year, how will I top it!?
This month I’m living in a house with four others in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. It’s a spacious red home, I have a balcony off my room and a California king bed that’s so big I’ve used it a little as shelving. The neighborhood and entire city is very flat (no more hike home), and there is a ton of greenery.
We are working out of a.255, creatively named for its location on Amsterdam street no. 255. It’s a 6 floor coworking space with a dedicated office for Remote Year on one floor and an open air kitchen/desk space on the top floor. Also has bikes you can rent for free, lockers, and desks you can stand at (my personal fav).
- Water es no bueno. Can’t drink the tap water here, and honestly it is the worst we have had all year. The house’s water often has green and black things floating in it. SO, we have big jugs of filtered water and disinfectants that we can put in the water to soak/wash vegetables. Honestly, water is a huge issue in Mexico. People estimate that at the current rate of consumption, the city will run out of water by 2030. There are a large number of people (about 9 million) nationwide that do not have access to clean water, and/or have to spend a large fraction of their income to get it.
- Along those lines, Moctezuma’s Revenge is a thing. Moctezuma was the last Aztec king and was betrayed by the Spaniards. It’s said that because of the betrayal, he has put a curse on any foreigner that enters the country to dote them with digestive issues. Food poisoning, diarrhea, all within the realm of possibility perhaps due to the water quality. The probiotics are flowing. Tip: places that take credit card tend to be safer.
- Did you know Mexico City is at a higher altitude? About 7,300 ft (2,200 mt). Air a bit thinner and colder days. The weather is also highly dependent on the sun, way warmer in the sun than in the shade and the temperature drops at night (75 during the day, 50 at night). The boiling point is also higher, in my world that means cooking gf pasta takes longer.
- The city is close to two fault lines and thus very susceptible to earthquakes. They don’t expect a big one imminently, but small ones are common. The city team gave us in depth prep on what to do if one happens. Some notes:
- Safest to be in tighter spaces, bathrooms if possible. Every building has green signs somewhere to label safe zones, found near big pillars and in these smaller areas.
- If able to get outside within 20 seconds, that’s best
- If earthquake is big enough (>M3.0), an alarm system will sound. They played the noise for us, but not too loud to concern others in the building.
- After a bad one in 1985, the government put a lot more development into the city infrastructure to protect from damage. In 2017, all buildings were investigated to make sure they were up to code.
- If all cell phone lines go down, the radio will always work. Can download a radio app.
- Fun fact: my friends and I were sitting in an ice cream shop and got shoed out into the street by the owners because they thought they heard the alarm. We stood outside for 5 minutes, didn’t feel anything, and went back in. I was a little spooked though.
- Police corruption. Another interesting point that was stressed at the city welcome is that the police system is very corrupt. Especially around the holidays, it’s not uncommon for police to stop you in the street, intimidate you for something, and try to get you to give them money to let you go. We were told to not walk alone at night mainly for this reason. They often stand outside bars and catch people leaving with open alcohol. Pretty crazy to be avoiding the people that are supposed to keep you safe. Cause of this corruption? Police are highly underpaid.
- The closest park to us, Parque Mexico, is filled with stray and pet dogs. One of this month’s Positive Impact partners is a local dog shelter, La Casa Del Mestizo. At any time, we can go to the shelter (actually a family’s home) and take any of the 207 dogs for a walk. The workspace also allows dogs, so we can bring them there as long as we bring the dog home at the end of the night. CRAZY. Reason for all these dogs with no home? People tend to not neuter their dogs, and also will get them then leave them on the street when they don’t want them anymore. That being said, I’m pretty sure every citizen in the city has a dog, they’re EVERYWHERE.
- Food of the week: chilaquiles. Often eaten for breakfast. Tortilla chips smothered in red or green salsa (or both, sometimes called divorciados), with chicken, cheese, sometimes sour cream, and topped with an egg. I’m obsessed.
Drink of the week: Rompope, a Mexican eggnog-like beverage made with egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. They had it at the workspace this week. Asked a girl what it was, she said ‘rompope’…it was labelled, no shit. #googleistherealmvp
- This week, on my very lowkey New Year’s Day, I learned a lot about Frida Kahlo. After visiting her neighborhood, I only thought it was right. Anyway, supperrr interesting woman! Was impressed with her courage and admired her audacity as an independent woman in the early 1900s. She turned a lot of physical pain throughout her life into amazing art. Her unibrow was a representation of her greater actions against typical beauty standards. Her illnesses and marriage to Diego Rivera also interesting. You can visit her home in Coyoacán, Mexico City. I recommend the movie ‘Frida’ to learn more.
- On New Year’s Eve, at midnight, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes for good luck. Supposedly in 12 seconds, while making a wish with each one. Not sure how that’s possible tbh, but we tried.
- Instead of getting presents from Santa, here the kids get presents on January 6th, Three Kings’ Day. On January 5th, they write letters to the Three Kings. I bring this up because we visited a post office on January 5th…and it was PACKED with kids and their parents mailing letters to the Three Kings. To where? Our guide didn’t know. That’s true dedication to a tradition to stand in a line two blocks long to send a letter to people that don’t exist.
- For those who were wondering like me, Mexico City is abbreviated as CDMX because it’s ‘Ciudad de Mexico’. Duh.
- Group brunch at Maque café, a popular spot for traditional Mexican food in Condesa
- Knock off all the day one essentials: gym scoping, grocery shopping, City Welcome, unpacking
- Churros in the park from Churrería El Moro. Tip: if you want to go there, pick a good time, line can get verrrrrry long.Bottom of Form
- Tacos on night one because well, of course. The spot: Taqueria El Califa. Known for their meat and cheese tacos that has a thick toasted cheese on top. How am I not going to gain a million pounds this month??
- Work, bit of shopping, work, gym, quiet night getting settled in the new place and talking to family
- Breakfast in Coyoacán neighborhood at Los Amantes Café with other Remotes
- Spend the morning walking around the area, super cute, fun markets…skip the Frida Kahlo house because surprise, surprise, the line was super long for the holiday
- Uber to and check out the San Angel neighborhood nearby, equally as cute. Known for it’s quaint cobblestone streets and parks
- NYE pre-game at our house with the whole group and some friends. Drinking games and lots of laughs
- All head to Proyecto Publico Prim, a nearby art gallery/warehouse space for their NYE party. SO MUCH fun, everyone was in good spirits and there was no group I would have rather rung in the New Year with. Ate our grapes, cheers’ed our free champagne, and danced a lot. Space was cool, well decorated with gold and silver balloons and greenery, and packed with people dressed in a sort of roaring 20s theme.
- Was pretty much only awake to watch a movie, do some cooking and writing. Lazy day at its finest. Knew everyone was on the same page when an UberEats discount code was sent in our group chat.
- Feliz año Nuevo! Most importantly, happy 25th wedding anniversary to my parents! Quite the accomplishment. Super grateful for their support and love, especially this year.
- Lunch with pals at Taqueria Orinoco. Only red meat tacos and quesadillas, with fried potatoes on the side, but SUPER good and the food comes in like 15 seconds. Can get on Rappi, too.
- After work Positive Impact dog walk. 8 of us grabbed dogs from La Casa Del Mestizo and walked them to the dog park and back:
- I got Junior, a little white fluff that’s kind of my nightmare type dog because of how easily they get dirty
- Junior pooped many times and I had to clean…it was a love/hate we had going on
- Fun to see Parea walk dogs though, everyone has their own ‘dog voice’ and personality that comes out
- Pretty chill workday followed by ice cream in Condesa with friends, back in the land of mint chocolate chip ice cream and I couldn’t be happier
- 5am wake up for our tour with Skyballoons Mexico, yup, HOT AIR BALLOONS!!! Not sure how this ended up on my bucket list, but definitely something I’ve wanted to do for a while
- Lemme just say that hot air balloons at 5am in January in CDMX (well really an hour outside in Teotihuacan) are COLD, bring layers
- Other than that, it was incredible. Truly one of the greatest mornings of my life. Was slightly terrified when we first took off remembering only a basket stood between me and the giant fall to the ground, but then it was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, smooth ride.
- Caught sunrise over the countryside and Teotihuacan pyramids and returned a bit abruptly to the ground. Landed in the slightly wrong spot and had to be guided up and over a fence
- Finished with champagne at 8am and hot breakfast
- Next part of the tour was to a spot for fresh pulque (drink made from fermented juice of the maguey plant) and tequila. So yes, before 10am, I had champagne and two shots. Bold start.
- Last stop of the tour was to the pyramids themselves. Cool to see but honestly, very over run with tourists. And completed by these annoying clay whistles that vendors were selling.
- Back to the city for vegan tacos from a place called u.topia, real good!
- Nap and chill night watching the Patriots lose in the first round of playoffs….
- A kind of perfect Sunday Funday with a small group tour led by our Remote Year Operations Manager. Totally free, and a tour of downtown that no one else gets, places and facts only locals really know. Ugh, so going to miss this resource of RY.
- Avenida Reforma, the road to and through downtown is closed on Sundays for cars from 8am until 2pm. Instead, it’s FILLED with bikers, runners, and roller bladers. We grabbed some of the electric city bikes and joined in the action. Beautiful day to be out, so fun.
- Guided to Barrio Alameda (a renovated shopping center and rooftop bar), Alamada Central Park, Belles Artes, the original Mexican post office, Azul Historico, the Zocalo, and lunch at Hosteria La Bota all while learning so many interesting facts. Will share throughout the month!
- Evening well spent at Malaquita roof top bar having the best margaritas I’ve ever had #wheninmexico
Mexico, you feel very familiar (lots of brands I haven’t seen all year!), but you’ve got some special flair and some hella good tacos. Excited for the rest of the month!