There isn’t much to say other than this: it feels good to be in my 2nd home, good to be back, nice to see mi prima and all-star Roxy, y todo esta bien en el mundo. Yes, mis amigos — Mexico City is where I spent a great majority of my childhood, where most of my family lives, and where I spent every single vacation that I’ve ever had. It is why I try my best to communicate in Spanglish whenever I can, and of course, why I embrace Mexican cuisine — la mejor comida porque asi me siento. And so, I figured why not kick off my travel log entries with a place I know well.
First thing’s first, there are two realities of Mexico City that haven’t changed since I was un nino and probably never will: the traffic and the food. No matter where you are, or where you plan to go, Mexico’s big mess of reckless drivers, motorcyclists, drive n’ texters, and lack of stop lights, makes for a scary commute if you are not used to it. My advice is to just enjoy the cultural shift of drivers (and hope to God you don’t get hit by un pendejo). Adding to what to expect, you’ll never fail to get your hands on a taco, quesadilla, enchilada, and all kinds of other goodies in between. Without a doubt, I urge you to embrace the culinary genius of Mexican food as well. Seriously, you’ll thank me later. In fact, your trip to Mexico will not be complete without a taste of a beautifully crafted taco with lime and salsa on the side of your plate ready to be used. Moreover, an easy way to be quietly judged (or to stand out quickly as a tourist) is to order something plain… like a hamburgesa or a simple dish of eggs with pancakes — yes, I’m referring to my dad and brother. Oh, I get it: those plates of food are amazing, and can hit the spot. But c’mon, wuey — don’t order something like that when your options also include enchiladas, breakfast quesadillas and other delights. Don’t be like the Americans who pronounce “hola” the same way as “hello” — aka, the “h” is silent in espanol.
Another thing to keep in mind about Mexico is not to believe everything that the media tells you. Yes, the Cartel isn’t just something you see on a Netflix series that you might binge watch one weekend. Maybe, there are bad situations that have gone down — particularly, gang related issues and kidnappings. But overall, just put it this way: if you don’t look for trouble, you won’t find it. I guess what I am trying to say is, Mexico is a place of fun and family and amigos and taking pride in your work (whether you are a CEO or a janitor). In Mexico, we take the saying “work all day, party all night” to levels you can never imagine unless you experience it first hand. Even if you’re a tourist, ne pasa nada. Just try to embrace Mexico’s culture for all that it is worth, and you’ll see that energy being reciprocated. I’ll give you the perfect example: fútbol. Oh, si amigo — I wasn’t going to write about Mexico without including its national sport.
Back in the day when I spoke close to zero Spanish (now it’s at about 45% Spanish, which is an improvement… but that’s beside the point), the only way I was able to be included in my cousin’s friend group or just on la playa en general was to play fútbol. Later, it was drinking and a good night when I was 16 in Acapulco. But all-in-all, everyone in Mexico loves fútbol and predominantly ignores all the other sports except for boxing (which is a far second).
So if you’re a tourist in Mexico City, let’s review. No matter where you plan to go, leave about an hour or two in advance. When in a restaurant, order tacos (or anything Mexican) and watch the waiter/waitress’s face light up with pride in their heart. Embrace your new amigos and drink bebidas with them. Dance if you’re at una fiesta, be cool or get lost. Fútbol is a religion. And above all else, make sure to hit me up a month or so in advance if you’re going to Mexico City or Acapulco or Playa Del Carmen or wherever else to give me a chance to see if I can go with you.