Some Unordered Initial Thoughts after Mexico City

Orange and blue die-cut banners covering the ceiling

I am home; I am glad to be home. I was sad to leave. I was ready to leave. I am already excited to go back, excitement that will likely turn into full-bore plotting over the next month.

It feels like magic to be able to drink from the tap again.

I found the people I talked to in Mexico City to be very patient with my extremely spotty Spanish, to the point that even after I said, “Hablo español un poquito,” they’d still speak quickly to me and seem a little confused when I looked at them with a face that must have reflected mild panic and utter incomprehension. Still, I think butchered Spanish is easier to understand than butchered French, so people were less likely to cut in with their own perhaps limited English, to stop my assault on their language. This felt like an act of generosity.

I want to de-spot my spotty Spanish. I am excited to do this.

Mexican popular art makes my heart smile.

Real, straight-from-the-source lucha libre: also amazing. So much of it is why I like Hoodslam.

Mexico makes me wish I liked snacks more, particularly chips. I love when people sell things on the streets. Being chip-apathetic and pescetarian meant that the opportunities to take advantage of this were limited.

If you derive most or all of your protein from sources other than beef, pork, or chicken, plan your snack strategy carefully.

I also missed big piles of veg. On BART home from SFO, I used a seldom-accessed food delivery app to order a big pile of shrimp and broccoli to come to my door. I thought I’d have leftovers. I did not.

In my own ongoing quest to figure myself out and best handle my own needs, I’ve made a study over the last few years of what it looks like when little kids get overwhelmed and start being unable to articulate things anymore – you know, that moment where their faces crumple, and sentences give way to long wails? That moment. I saw it a fair amount whenever I was around little kids in Mexico City (so many of whom were on those child leashes!). There is so much color and sound there that it’s not hard for adults to get overwhelmed. It’s a sensually intense place on all levels. I wonder if kid meltdowns happen a little more often there than here. I’ve been out of childhood for some time and am an adult with what seems like unusually good self-control, and I still had to go lay down a few times after particularly intense hours spent there.

Over the past few years, one of my ongoing metrics of places I visit is how often I see people with children and dogs. It’s a kind of measure of how attainable regular life is – do people have to leave the city to procreate? Are they limited to small pets? The more kids and dogs I see, the more it seems like fuller lives are possible within that particular place. I saw dogs and kids everywhere in Mexico City, and it made me smile.

Also, a majority of the dogs were wearing clothes. It got to the point that dogs not wearing clothes looked weirdly naked to me. Also, if you are in the market for dog clothes, the mercados have got you covered, my friend.

Mexican Spanish has like 400 different words for meat. They could fill their own thesaurus. I would then buy that thesaurus to make ordering food a little easier for me.

I fucking love mariachi.

The mercados may make you feel like one of those melting-down children, but the food, colors, and experience are very worth it. Just try to go on a weekday, not a weekend, and maybe go home for a nap afterwards.

Pulque is brilliant, and agave is a gift unto humanity.

Mexico City is one of those places where people are maybe starting to consider beginning their night out at around the time that I’m ready to wrap it up. I do not go to bed early, as a rule.

Sweet tamales are a thing, and also legit.

There is no street food to speak of in Polanco, but the food tour there is still totally worth it. (Related: if you’re into food tours, book yours at least two or three weeks ahead of time.)

I wonder what region of the country I’ll try next. So long as there is lucha, I think I’m game.