I want to live in Mexico!! All the places we’ve visited from the beaches in the east to the desert in the west have been fantastic and Mexico City is the icing on the cake. We’ve had such a great week here soaking up big city vibes and catching up with old and new friends. It has changed a lot and seems cleaner, friendlier, trendier (and safer!) than when I travelled here a few times for work in 2003-05. Also, I was probably overwhelmed by the chaos and noise back then whereas now we are used to it. But it’s not all big city chic – the first night we donned our masks and went to a Lucha Libra match.
Mexican Lucha Libre (free fighting) is all drama, silly costumes and choreographed twirls and bounces. I’m sure it hurts each time they land flat on the floor or fly out of the ring to ‘attack’ an escaping competitor but all punches are accompanied by a slap on the thigh for sound effect.
Checking out our fellow spectators is part of the fun – we had a group of masked office workers near us but there were families and couples of all ages. We unfortunately didn’t understand the heckling – apart from somebody suggesting that one of the wrestlers should take up Zumba instead! People were definitely getting into it!!
On the Friday we had lunch with Carlos and Moises, who run a group of hotels that I’ve worked with, and a few of their friends. We found out that they are very good at doing long lunches here and for most people at Contramar the weekend had already started!
The restaurant was packed from the moment we got there well into the afternoon (6pm!) when we left and gave off a feeling of buzzing excitement. The waiters never stop, the drinks flow and the small sharing plates keep coming – Mexico City seems on the move.
And of course I had to see one of Carlos and Moises new hotels, Downtown. It’s just stunning and I could easily spend a few days there there without leaving – 2 happening restaurants on the ground floor, shops selling Mexican-made goods and goodies on the mezzanine, super comfy rooms and the rooftop pool and bar. It might not be my business right now but made me remember why I like it so much! While I had a tour Nick relaxed on the rooftop and took a few photos.
The next night was Saturday so we met up with a couple we got to know at our B&B in San Cristobal. They suggested meeting in Coyoacan, a bohemian area where Frida Kahlo once lived. We tried to visit Casa Azul, her home which is now a museum, but realised that being a Saturday afternoon we should have booked tickets in advance. The ticket line was way too long! So we had a walk around, a smoothie, dodged the rain drops and then went to La Bipo to see Eduardo and Daniela. 4 hours, 4 plates of nibbles and 22 cocktails later the bill came to the equivalent of US$80. Having said this there are plenty of bars and restaurants in Mexico City that match London or Australia both in terms of prices and sophistication but this place was cool.
One of the girls in the Airbnb flat we stayed in told me about a weekend market for up-and-coming local designers. La Lonja is held monthly in a different locations, this time in a beautiful old crumbling building in Juarez. Aside from the shopping there was food and drinks and supposedly DJs and a band later on.
Mexico City has a population of 21 million. It’s as noisy and colourful as we’ve come to expect and seems to function like the much smaller towns we’ve visited just on a different scale! The Zocalo (main square) can hold more than 100,000 people and when we walked through it there were 2 or 3 different events competing for attention including a loud band.
We stayed in the trendy Condesa area full of cafes and cool-looking people walking their dogs (and lots of dog-walkers with even more dogs). All over Mexico there are lots of dogs but this is the only area where we’ve seen them featuring in the road signage!
The Anthropology Museum is the one that everybody recommends. The collection is overwhelmingly big but beautifully laid out in a huge timeline from indigenous cultures to the arrival of the armadas and conquistadors in their search for Oro (gold).
The artefacts on display are amazing, one could fill blogs and blogs with those alone and you walk away with a real understanding of those famous, yet not so well-understood in the west, cultures like the Maya, Aztec etc.
The museum is located in Chapultepec forest which is the city’s biggest park and home to a castle, several other museums.
The following day we went to see Teotihuacan, an hour outside the city – although it took us 2 hours to get there as the ‘direct’ bus we took was nothing like direct. The bus drivers must be self-employed and are keen to have as many passengers as possible and hence bend the truth a bit especially when giving advice to tourists.
Teotihuacan, which dates back to 100BC, soon became one of the biggest cities in the world with 125,000 habitants and multi-level apartment complexes. It’s home to the Sun pyramid (the 3rd tallest in the world), the Moon pyramid and lots of smaller structures.
We actually visited Mexico City straight after La Paz and before Holbox Island but Nick was much quicker writing that post. He just couldn’t wait to share the photos of those beaches : -). Our last week in Mexico was back on Isla Mujeres where we also stayed shortly after arriving in Mexico. When we left Isla Mujeres back in November we stored one of our bags full of long trousers and warm clothes at Cancun Storage and it was now time to pick this up. With hindsight we could have used the warm clothes in the mountains in Guatemala and Mexico but it was great to travel lighter.
Now after nearly 7 months in Mexico and Central America it’s time for a new chapter. A week in New York and then the summer in Europe. It won’t be as exotic but we hope to still find nice photos and stories to share…