As we landed, I could see a thick layer of polluted air hovering over the dense city. While the rush of excitement and anxiety took over my body, I wondered why we even thought of coming here? Was I crazy to think there would be a lot to see and do? Was traveling out of the country just to eat al pastor worth the danger? Wasn’t there multiple kidnappings recently?! But somehow, all the rumors and terrible news didn’t change my desire to come here. Whatever reservation I had before stepping foot on this foreign land, was quickly dismissed as we jumped on a city bus from our guest house to Coyoacán, an artsy-boheimian borough south of the city center.
Since this was such a last minute trip, we had no idea what was worth seeing and what was worth avoiding. We just knew we were hungry and our most amazing guest house owner (that we found through AirB&B) told us to get on the local city bus and get off in the center of Coyoacán where we will find endless amounts of street food vendors and where the locals like to hang out in the evening.
Now, I must say, this isn’t the most comprehensive list of things to do in MC or Federal District (DF) as the locals call it. I’m sure there are better and more tasty foods than street tacos and I’m sure not everybody hangs out at their neighborhood plaza, but we’re so glad we didn’t follow the popular travel site suggestions to visit fancy pants places like Polanco and eat innovative fusion food like Pujol. Surprisingly enough, despite the lack of planning, I wouldn’t change a thing about our trip. It was much more amazing than we expected.
So, our very first meal was from a couple grilling blue corn tlacoyo, filled with longaniza (something similar to chorizo), cheeses, dried tomatoes, red beans, and lettuce. It was freaking delicious! The tlacoyo was thicker and tastier than normal corn tortilla and the chorizo was juicy and packed with so much savory flavors. Than we walked down the street and ordered a couple of al postor from another vendor that was grilling the meat on a spit. They serve the tacos with a slice of pineapple to give it a sweet and savory taste. And oh my! If you follow me on instagram, you’ll see more photos of what I’m talking about. It’s as good as it looks!
By nine o’clock we probably devoured over 10 tacos each. We even tried tacos with eyes, brains, and other bodily parts. Not gona lie though, after trying those I needed to wash it down with something strong since it was much more gooey and stickier than I imagined…. when in Rome I guess…. haha.
We ended our first night, strolling around cobblestone neighborhoods with the most colorful homes and watch old men play chess on the steps of a deteriorating church.
The next day, we decided to hop on a metro and than a bus to go beyond the outskirts of town where the prehistoric city, Teotihuacan was built around 100 B.C. They say there is still so much mystery about this archaeological site as they’re not sure of the ethnic origins of the people who lived and ruled there.
Anywho, we had plans to go to the farthest area where the Moon Pyramid sits as it has the best view of the entire site. However, we didn’t make it that far! We started climbing the Sun Pyramid which is a mile from the visitor center and after two hundred steps to the top, we were super tiered and we couldn’t imagine walking another two miles to the Moon Pyramid. Note to self, wear comfortable shoes and not like me. I wore my trusty strappy sandals (can you sense my sarcasm?) and of course it had to break in the middle of walking back.
This is the part where I tell you that I was all alone walking and eventually limping on the cobblestone street. As I was passing by the souvenir sellers a husband and wife hackled at me to buy something from them. And in my four years of high school Spanish, I asked them “tienes zapados?” The husband looked at me puzzled and then looked at his wife. He said something to her and they both laughed. So I started walking pass them, seriously so sad at this point because my feet was starting to blister but then, the husband yelled at me to come back. Told me to sit down next to him and he pulled out a pocket knife and took my sandal. He poked a hole in the center and found a plastic wire just long enough to tie my shoe together. It turns out that they spoke a little bit of English from working at these touristy sites everyday for the last twenty or so years. So we got to talking about his children who are all in college or recently married. I love when people talk about their children. You can tell, he was beaming with joy just thinking about them. He said he knows of Hollywood and wondered what it was like to live in the states. He said he’s lived in that area for all of his life and could never dream of leaving.
I was so grateful for the kindness, that this complete stranger bestowed on me that I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people I’ve met in the last few hours I’ve been in Mexico and all the people I was going to meet. Everybody offered to help us when we didn’t know which bus stop to get off of. Drew out maps for us so we knew what to look for. Gave us their chair and made sure Tom was not sitting on the sidewalk while enjoying his food.
After spending half a day in the pyramids, we returned and hopped on another metro that took us to the city center aka Zocalo. There was a lot to see but it was getting dark and we noticed that there was a lot more police officers on the streets. After wandering for a bit we got on another metro and went to Condessa where we had more tacos and the yummiest horchata drink for Valentines day. We thought of going somewhere fancier but I’m so glad we opted for something small and what could be more wonderful than sharing a great meal with your favorite person?!
The next day, which was our last full day, we checked-in to a hotel that was on the other side of town. We wanted to try a new place just to get a little variety and it turned out to be another awesome spot! El Patio 77 is an old mansion that they turned into the first eco-friendly hotel. With bold patterns, whimsical artwork, colorful furniture and a beautiful terrace it really felt like a place right out of an Anthropologie catalogue but for men!
We settled in and quickly left to Coyoacan, again, but this time to visit Frida’s Blue House Museum. I seriously had to pinch myself when we walked into the courtyard where she would oftentimes sit and talk art and politics with her husband Diego Rivera. I could see how the colors of her neighborhood influenced her work and her wild personality.
We spent the rest of the day lazily walking around San Ángel Saturday Bazaar and having dinner at local a Argentinian inspired restaurant.
I know I’ve said it many times, but I am truly so grateful for the chance to be a photographer where I get to document life as I see it. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m terrible with words but I hope my photos give you a glimpse of how I see the world.
Lastly, I do want to encourage you to go and travel more. Maybe even a trip to Mexico City won’t be too crazy as I made it back totally unscathed. Like anywhere you go, please always be careful and don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do at home.
Sighhh…. we’re already dreaming of when we will go back!