Y’all, this was my first full, 40-hour work week all year. I’m exhausted. Is this what real life is like? Nahh in all honesty, work was busy in a good way and I still had time for activities. And yes, still plenty of time for tacos.
- Mexico City is sinking, it was built on a lake. It sinks about 10cm a year. You can see its effects downtown with the slanted buildings and monuments. The picturesque Angel of Independence has had steps added to it over the years to support the structure. The Belles Artes building now has steps going down into it.
- January 6th is Three Kings’ Day. Like other places, it’s tradition to get a sweet fruit type cake, Rosca de Reyes, with hidden figures in it. If you get the plastic baby Jesus in your piece, you have to host a party and serve tamales. Too bad I’m gluten free and couldn’t try it 😛 An interesting take on the tradition. Anyway, the grocery store was FILLED with these cakes.
- This time of year, the city has a lot of colorful piñatas hanging. They are used in the same way we would, filled with candy and smashed open, but some are also for decoration. The typical shape is a star-ish one with seven points that represent the seven deadly sins. So the activity is meant to symbolize overcoming sins.
- Currency is the Mexican pesos. There are 18.90 pesos in $1 at the moment, so roughly divide by 20. Happy to not be in the thousands and millions anymore with conversions.
- In addition to being at a higher altitude, CDMX has some of the lowest air quality, even worse than Hanoi and Lima. I’m not sure what causes it, but I do catch myself needing to take a deeper breath every once in a while.
- Waste here is separated in three ways: recyclable inorganic, unrecyclable inorganic, and organic. In other words, they have recycling and *almost* compost city-wide. I actually watched trash men on the trucks dig through every bag of trash and pull out any recycling that was not already separated. The organic trash is actually not composted, it’s simply separated so when people go digging through the trash it is not as gross. Some homeless rely on trashed materials for money.
- Food of the week: chile relleno. A chile pepper stuffed with cheese and fried egg. Tried one at a local street market!
- Drink of the week: michelada. Beer mixed with anything, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, passionfruit juice. Only watched other people try them.
- The city has red electric bikes for rent that you can book through the Uber app, called Jump. They’re SO FUN and kind of cheating. It also has electric scooters (though not as much as other cities we’ve visited) that can be ordered through the Rappi app. AND there are various city bikes, some with a fee of only $15 a year (!!).
- Lucha Libre is the Mexican version of sorts of WWE. A luchador(a) can fight on one of two teams. The tecnicos are the good guys, the rule followers, and encourage audience members to cheer for them. The rudos are the bad guys, the ones who do all the cool tricks but are kind of dirty, and who feed off the booing and smack talk. The sport used to be really popular for locals, but is now more for keeping the tradition alive, the tourists, and some of the lower class locals.
- And what’s with the masks? You may know Lucha Libre for the movie Nacho Libre or have seen pictures of people fighting in masks. A true luchador wears his mask all the time, even when not in the ring. We were shown pictures of people getting married in them. The most famous luchador, El Santo, was never seen without his mask on.
- This month’s track event was at the trajineras de Xochimilco, about an hour drive from the city center. Back in the day, there were canals running from Xochimilco and the boats, called trajineras, were used to bring goods to the Aztec kings in Mexico City. Hard to imagine there being that much water given how it looks now.
- Fun fact: ‘Sobremesa’ is a Friday tradition of going to lunch with coworkers around 2pm and just not returning to work the rest of the day, spending it eating and drinking. I meeannn ok!
- Checked out the Tuesday market in Condesa with city team:
- It’s called Condesa Tianguis on Google Maps but it’s a mobile market. Tuesdays it’s in our neighborhood, then those same vendors move to a different place every day.
- Tons of fresh produce, including a new fruit called mamey, and street food
- We were guided to a barbacoa taco stand and a lady with lots of vegetarian options. Again, would never have known what to do without the Remote Year team.
- Work from El Pendulo Café/Bookstore in the upscale Polanco neighborhood, great Wi-Fi 🙂
- Say our first goodbye to two members of our group. After a fun dinner at the hipster food market Mercado Roma, we shared hugs with the couple who have been such an integral part of the group this year. It was realllllyyy hard. I’m dreading the rest.
- Taco Thursday dinner with a close friend that was long overdue and much appreciated.
- Lucha Libre Remote Year activity:
- Got a tour of Arena Mexico, a stadium used in the 1968 summer Olympics, and now home to Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, the top level of Lucha Libre
- Had a Q&A session with some second tier fighters and a coach
- Got to train backstage with the fighters. Started with some squats and pushups, moved to a game of leap frog, and then came the acrobatics in the ring. I knew I was in trouble when we started with somersaults and things were only going to get harder. I can’t do a somersault. My barrel roll didn’t cut it. But it was really cool to watch them roll, slam, and flip through the ring. And some Pareans really did it!
- Watch 3 hours of prime time fighting, live. Each match had three rounds, and we probably watched five matches including a female one.
- Interesting note: it is common for luchadors to fight until they are older, into thirties and fourties. We saw one man who had to at least be 50. But all of them were incredibly strong.
- Sad part: they had these little people dressed in costumes that they’d bring into the ring for some sort of comic relief. Really they would just fake beat them up a bit and send them off.
- The whole thing was quite the spectacle, lots of noise and half decent acting, but the better fights were actually pretty cool. Don’t need to do it again but a good experience.
- Day of exploration with Simone. We don’t get to see each other that often so I am extra grateful when we do
- Attempt and fail to go to a sculpture park in the University area, fun to take the metro out to it though
- Go back to the San Angel neighborhood for a totally different experience than New Year’s Eve. Markets and people everywhere and just a beautiful day to be out.
- Had the BEST taco so far at a little street vendor outside the San Angel market. Banner above it read La Morena.
- Take the metro again to the nicest neighborhood, Polanco, and visit the Instagram-worthy spot ‘Mexico, Mi Amor’. Literally nothing but a pink wall with some cacti in front and a neon sign that someone could park in front of.
- Dinner with the daughter of one of my Uncle’s colleagues in the Roma Norte neighborhood. I had actually spent the week with her in her Mexican hometown when I was in middle school so it was nice to meet again. She’s working for an e-commerce furniture company that just opened a few flagship stores, one of which I had walked by earlier in Polanco.
Sunday: REMOTE YEAR TRACKS DAY!
- Last. Track. Of. The. Year….woah. Spent well on the trajineras, colorful boats, in the small town of Xochimilco
- The canals were pretty narrow and FILLED with boats. Each boat had a long table surrounded by chairs and one driver. Our group got two boats and they were often tied together. The boats were all named and ours had a sign that said “Remote Year Parea”
- Stopped a few times for bathrooms and lunch (AMAZING quesadillas) but otherwise just floated around, listening to music, dancing, and drinking.
- Nothing says final two weeks like some forced bonding time on a boat that you couldn’t get off of. 🙂
- As you were floating along, you could buy flower crowns (a must), micheladas, snacks, and toys off other vendor boats. OH and you could have a mariachi band come onto your boat to play for you (we didn’t do it but saw lots of others).
- Great day and fun end to the week. Quiet night in.
Ok, let’s be real. Started getting reallll anxious about this whole thing coming to an end. Trying to enjoy every moment and not sulk in the sadness just yet. Transitions are not my strong suit. Anyway, here’s to two more weeks of this crazy journey! Excited for some familiar guests to visit too.