Wanderlust: Mexico City

Posted on December 2, 2011


“Wanderlust” is a series of encounters as I wander through the world and satisfy my curiosities by visiting exotic cities, famous places, and experiences heart-warming foods.
Definition: wan·der·lust noun \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\ : strong longing for or impulse toward wandering
My parents were born in Mexico and I in California.  Although California is pretty ‘Mexicanized’ it’s not the same as south of the border.  Since I was 16, when I discovered my passion for travel, I have always wanted to live in Latin America.  As I am still working on creating that opportunity for myself, I decided to visit in attempt to settle my current craving for the cultura Mexicana.

I’ve visited Mexico several times in the past, but never with the freedom to explore.  In earlier trips, I was surrounded by family obligations, business expos, or too young to truly enjoy fully.  Clearly my experiences were very much monitored.  This Thanksgiving trip I had the privilege of flirting with the idea of being a real Mexican and hang with the locals.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay long… It was a quick 4 days and 5 nights, but I owned each minute I had.  I got my fix on fresh Posole, delicious Tacos, Flautas, Enchiladas, Arroz con Leche, Flan, Pan, Cafesito, Agua de Guayaba and lots of treats I can’t remember what they were called.  I should be okay for a couple of weeks.  I stayed with friends who were gracious in letting me crash in their home.  I did a little of the normal daily todo’s like help the little man of the house with homework (I really enjoyed it), did some xmas décor shopping, a little of this and a little of that.  I totally felt at home; I could see myself helping with chores the next trip 😉

My favorite part of Mexico (besides spending time with my friends) was the architecture.  Walking down any given street you can clearly see the influence of the past.  A colorful history weaved with ancient civilizations and Spanish conquest, the indigenous influence is ever-present alongside the Spanish colonial flair.  Colorful doors, the contrasting painted houses, iron windows, cobble stone roads; Mexico City is no less than vibrant.

Everything came together after visiting the National Museum of Anthropology and History.  Amongst the crowded hallways filled with students from various schools, Ale and I slowly went through the entire history of Mesoamerican civilizations.  Civilizations like the Teotihuacanos, Aztec, Maya, Toltec, Olmec, Tascarans, and so many more I can’t remember.  I will confess, it’s a giant museum and you should carry snacks with you… at least if you’re attempting to see it all.  It took Ale and I 3 hours because we’re nerds.  Following the Museum, we walked down one of the most beautiful streets in the world “Paseo de La Reforma” as we made our way to the most iconic monument of Mexico City; el Angel de la Independencia.  We passed by La Torre Mayor (Mexico City’s largest skyscaper), many statues, and tons of people.  When we finally reached the Angel, we sat and waited for our friends.  They swooped us up and we proceeded to our Thanksgiving lunch at a sushi spot called Koi.  (Very tasty!)

Later that evening, I was lucky to spend time site seeing the Centro area, which has the largest plaza in the world.  It’s larger than you might think… visited the Catedral de Mexico, and had drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the Zocalo with my date.  On the cab ride to the area of La Condesa, my date and I started some chitter-chatter with the Taxi man.  Wow! This man had a lot to say… He elaborated on the presidents’ views to privatize all the transportation, and create programs to funnel more income to those involved. He spoke about the political upheaval and you could tell the poor man had festered in frustration for some time.  Leaving the cab, I kept thinking about all that he shared; the injustice he proclaimed.  I thought about the United States and our current protests with Occupy Wall Street, and the billions of dollars we spend rescuing banks while our education system is dehydrating.  I thought about the family that is trying to make enough money to get out of the rat race, and the family that close to falling back into the rat race.  It seemed that although I might be in a different country, the need for exact political representation in a system that listens and acts in favor of its constituents transcends borders.

The following day we visited the Piramides de Teotihuacan.  We watched the Voladores de Papantla who showcased their tradition of flying gracefully attached by a rope from a pole 75ft high. (Voladores Website).  I’m not too sure I’d be willing to tie a string to my ankle and glide…but it’s extremely impressive.  I was the only one who’d never been to Teotihuacan, minus the 9-year-old who was also in attendance.  Together a group of us climbed the main pyramid, Piramide del Sol.  It’s definitely a site to see.  It such an inspiring place to witness.  As the sun was setting we made our last purchases at the shops and made our way back to Mexico City.  On our ride through the famous Mexico City traffic we had the serenade background of my friend’s son.  A good time was had by all.

My last day I visited Coyoacan; it was like transporting back into Mexican history.  The houses were well-kept in the original Spanish colonial style of when it was a headquarters for Hernan Cortes.  My friend’s explained that the district near the plaza is protected by a historic preservation program, which I thought was fabulous.  I love the fact they are preserving heritage.  I saw a good amount of extranjeros, but many more locals with their families enjoying a stroll.  It was a beautiful evening to spend sipping a coffee, buying treats and munching a strawberry filled Churro.  Afterall, they say the best Churros are in Coyoacan.  I agree.

It was a fabulous introduction to Mexico City.  I had a great time getting back to my roots, and spending the time with people who are dear to me.  It had been a long time since I ‘vacation’ with my personal curiosities driving the agenda, and not social or business obligations.  Everything was beautiful, everything was me!  From the Catedral de Mexico in the Zocalo, to driving by La Torre Latinoamericana, everything was amazing because in the essence, I was connected to it.  This is all part of my history as a Chicana.  I have returned with a new pride for mi cultura Mexicana… and I cannot wait to go back.