It has officially been one month since I arrived in Mexico City, or “CDMX” per the locals. The past couple days I was beating myself up for not having done more, accomplished more, seen more-you name it. Then it occurred to me, this is my journey and I am meant to embrace it. I am supposed to learn and grow. It is meant to change my perspective, make me slow down, live like a local, and interact with others.
So I have compiled a list of observations I have made over the past month. Some are humorous, some totally random, some frustrating, some insightful. None meant to offend. I have included some photos as well.
50 Random things I’ve noticed…
1. The weather here in Mexico City is beautiful. People are outside a lot.
2. Seriously some of the nicest people I have ever met. Every day “buenos dias,” every meal “provecho,” and always willing to help.
3. Every Sunday evening I see all the musicians walking home from wherever they have been playing: the park, cafe, or wherever.
4. There are tons of art, artists, street art, people selling art, or handcrafted items, etc.
5. There is this strange phenomenon of people riding around in trucks with a ladies pre-recorded voice over a PA system trying to sell things. Her voice gets stuck in your head “Colchones, estufas, lavadoras….”
6. Even though Mexico City is a HUGE city, it is still different from the US in the lack of excess in the grocery stores. I don’t have 20 choices of every item available to me. It’s actually kind of nice.
7. Everyone wants to practice their English and thinks that it is not good, but it is way better than my spanish.
8. Spanish numbers, especially the high ones are hard. Why do they start with 1-10 in school when the exchange rate for pesos is so much higher? haha
9. Here headphones are not a universal symbol for don’t talk to me. I should have figured that out when the population in El Paso talked to me too. They are just a social culture- Americans are so isolationist.
10. Everyone seems to have a maid.
11. Individual encounters feel like “a neighborhood in Brooklyn” but walking around feels like “a busy street in NYC.” I sometimes get looks like why is this “gringa” smiling at me. Others love it and smile back. One older lady smiled and said she loved my hat.
12. Kids here particularly love when it rains and jump in every puddle. (And better yet parents don’t rush them along but just stand there and let them do it!)
13. People here actually give money to the homeless/those begging or selling small things.
14. I have never seen so many balls on dogs. I guess they don’t have Drew Carey to remind them to “Get their pets spayed and neutered to help control the pet population.”
15. Tons of small businesses, which the owners have a lot of pride in.
16. The youth are so affectionate-always lots of PDA.
17. It is so much more like a forest “bosque” than I would have thought. Super tall and majestic trees in a lot of the parks. Also, great parks!
18. It is surprisingly biking friendly and people are always on these rent-a-bike things. I haven’t ventured there yet. Wanted to make sure I know where I’m going and not going to get hit by a car first.
19. Speaking of which, HOLY TRAFFIC. Just don’t drive in Mexico City.
20. Also, people pack into the buses and public transit like sardines. Looks super uncomfortable. I enjoy walking.
21. There are so many messed up sidewalks. Not sure if this is related to earthquakes, trees, poor planning or what?
22. Everyone smokes. I miss my lung protection in the US.
23. The city is making a huge shift towards encouraging physical activity and for Mexico being “fat” I see a lot of people walking, biking and working out. (But also eating…so?)
24. There are so many dogs here that are “free range,” just walking down the street off leash. Just exploring waaay behind their owner.
25. The architecture here is amazing, a photographers dream. And a nightmare for earthquakes.
26. Good food crosses class boundaries. Businessmen and workers all appear at the same taco stand.
27. The city is actually very clean which surprised me. However, there are always sanitation workers with these large witch looking brooms sweeping away and cleaning it up to make it look nice.
28. There are so many old-school looking barber shops. It makes me want to be a guy for that experience.
29. Seriously such hardworking people. At work, they are never sitting still. No customers…ok I will clean this or sweep the street, or fill a bowl for dogs outside. Literally, anything but sit still or be on their phone.
30. I’ve never seen so many people “wash” the sidewalk, like with soap and water and then sweep it. (So funny to me!)
31. There is poor city planning/civil engineering. It is not the most pedestrian-friendly. Cross streets at your own risk. You become super observant of lights and traffic patterns.
32. Kids don’t seem to have fancy gadgets and I don’t think I’ve seen one kid just sitting and playing on an iPhone. Two kids were playing with chalk or throwing a hat around. Others were playing fútbol.
33. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been spoken to “local speed” only to realize I’m truly a “gringa” (probably due to my facial reaction or long pause before speaking), which then elicits panic for them trying to find an English speaker while I try to use broken Spanish to tell them no just slow down and I can understand you.
34. There is a lot of meat…perhaps I’ve just noticed this because of being vegan, but it is a little hard to find vegan food options in Mexican cuisine.
35. No huge trucks or Suburbans here-mostly little fiats or similar cars. (But perhaps this is just in comparison to a state like Texas)
36. There are police officers everywhere and they always seem to be doing nothing…oh, except in the morning they help me cross a busy street…because of TRAFFIC (eye-roll). I am sure they do stuff but I just see them do funny things like 20 of them pile in the back of a truck.
37. I’ve seen a lot more very old people working and it makes me sad.
38. There is a lot of cage wire at the top of every cinder block wall–makes me wonder if people can really climb that high? Must be an athletic bunch.
39. Spanish cooking is confusing. Why say 4 “tazas” (cups) and then tell me 1000ml? Even with my scientific schooling, the metric system failed me. I still can’t cook metrically without being annoyed. I’m sure it will pass. Food turns out ok.
40. Many people live with their parents here until they are older-into their 20s?
41. There are a lot of options for valet parking and other services.
42. They all know how to upsell an American.
43. People wear masks here while biking and sometimes just because so I’m sure I’m breathing in all kinds of crap but I don’t feel bad? I have had 2 headaches but I think they were related to sleep and hydration. I guess Mexico City does have a pollution problem but it hasn’t bothered my allergies, etc.
44. For the 2 weeks surrounding Easter, Semana Santa, it was a ghost town. Suddenly no traffic, fewer people on the streets, etc. It was kind of great in many ways. Everyone leaves for vacation apparently.
45. Everything “costs so much here.” However, I think it makes me save money when I see that “geez that toilet paper is $35, I’ll pass.” (not really…its about $2 USD haha)
46. I don’t know if I just expected differently but Mexico City seems very LGBT friendly.
47. People have a later work schedule, both in the morning and into the evening 9/10 to 7/8 it seems
48. It occurred to me one day while eating breakfast and walking to a cafe that I have not seen many people, hardly anyone, walking and eating. Sure they stop on the street and eat…but they STOP! I thinking eating on the go is an American invention.
49. Sunday is a family day with everyone out at the parks and enjoying the day.
50. There seem to be a lot of expats. I need to make more friends still though.
To sum it up…
I am quickly feeling more comfortable, but I am still surprised by things daily, and there are always things that make me chuckle. If I had to sum up my experience in Mexico City so far it would be TACOS, PARKS, PUPPIES & PEOPLE (super nice people).
I swear I will do some more exploring. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and others are calling me to all the wonderful places around this city. Until then I am just wandering around the city searching for inspiration, enjoying the beautiful weather and incredibly kind people–oh and gobbling up cheap vegan tacos. -Jess