A huge part of traveling to Mexico for me is to get better at speaking Spanish. I knew that 3 weeks in Guadalajara was not going to be enough to get a good hold on Spanish so I chose to go to Ciudad de México for more Spanish immersion.
Why did I pick Ciudad de México,specifically? Well it is a huge city – the 8th richest in the world with almost 9 million people living within city limits – with unbelievable architecture and historical sites. Let’s not forget to mention that vegetarian/vegan Mexican food is popping right now! There are so many restaurants dedicated to fusing traditional Mexican dishes with a vegetarian/vegan twist. And this city was cheap! Flying within Mexico is so affordable and my 3.5 week AirBnB only cost me $250 for a private room smack dab in the middle of the hipster neighborhood of Roma. I looked into language schools after I had already booked everything, but the school I liked the most ended up being in the same neighborhood. Only a 20 minute walk away. It’s perfect.
Ciudad de México is also about getting completely out of my comfort zone. It’s a challenge for myself. Not only the language but just consciously choosing to take more opportunities, no matter how big or small. I know no one in this city, the language is not my own, and it’s a huge place. But that also means that there will be tons of opportunities. Opportunities to meet new people, to try new foods, to have fun. I’m a little late writing this post (I had planned to write these the day I get to each place, in transit, but I hit the ground RUNNING and it is currently my 5th day here). In all of my conversations with people near my age, I have heard nothing but good things about this city. There’s so much to do and see, and the people know how to have fun. My female friends tell me about the dancing and the food. My male friends have told me about the parties and the alcohol. Basically everyone is friendly and knows how to have a good time, something that I think characterizes most travelers experiences with Mexicans in general.
Whenever I told anyone who was a bit older that I was going to Ciudad de México……the reaction was much different. My family in Guadalajara was so scared for me to come. “Don’t wear your necklace out.” / “Don’t take the train.” / “Don’t be out after the sun goes down.” I could keep going on with their warnings. My dad was the hardest to talk to about going to Mexico is got closer to me leaving for me trip at the end of the year. He was constantly bringing up bad things he’s seen in documentaries or read about in articles. Not like these things are untrue, but only the most fantastical stuff is what makes it to us in the US….that’s kind of how it is with every country. You have to take it with a grain of salt. But his concern is completely valid. I am his youngest daughter. I’m traveling by myself. I don’t know the language very well. But one thing I don’t thing very many men realize, including my dad, is that navigating the world as a woman is very different than moving through it as a man. His biggest concern was that I would be by myself and that something would happen to me while I’m walking down the street for example. And I understand that. But I have never not been aware of myself, my surroundings, and anyone around me for as long as I can remember. I don’t have the luxury of absentmindedly walking down the street. Anywhere. That’s just a fact of life (it shouldn’t be, but I won’t go into that now). Anything that could happen to me here in CDMX is the same thing that could happen to me in Los Angeles. I’m careful, I’m aware, and I’m not scared of something bad happening to me here. I’ve had 25 years of practice keeping myself out of bad situations and I have my size and stature on my side. I’ve been called flaca in México several times already (means skinny and I guess compared to the average lady here, I am) but I’m strong and I’m tall. I also know how to put on one hell of a bitch face when I need to – stops strangers from wanting to approach me – and I know how to just smile and say “no gracias” or whatever is needed and then exit a situation.
Safety concerns aside, I am so excited about this city. I wasn’t able to really experience the nightlife in Guadalajara because of the living arrangements. I needed my family to let me into their respective houses and they were older so I didn’t want to be out partying when someone was waiting up for me. Here, I’ve got my own set of keys and don’t need to go outside to turn on the hot water to take a shower (yea that was a thing, and it was loud. I felt so bad for waking up my moms padrino one night early on). There are also way more young people in the language school that I am attending here in CDMX and in the neighborhood I’m living in. Ciudad de Mexico is just more of a traveler destination so I’m really looking forward to being a part of that scene.
CDMX is about pushing my limits and I’m determinged to say yes to as much as possible.