There is something deliciously innocent about a city at night seen from the sky. Flickering in the heavy night, Mexico is just a pattern of light, completely unknown to me and unexplored.
Arriving in the dark means that instead of being hit by the impressive city buildings, you are accosted by the smells and the sounds; the quiet hum of Spanish from one Mexican to another, the musty lingering of twice-breathed air, the soft crinkle of paper-dry skin and the bleary blinking of lashes cloaked in sleep; a world awakening and brimming with the unknown.
Loaded like a Mexican mule, I eventually found my way to my hostel after waiting a few hours in an airport café until it was a more reasonable hour. A cheery Mexican man helped me to buy a ticket for the bus, and then proceeded to make excited conversation and high-five me constantly the whole journey, introducing me as his ‘amiga inglesa’ to another passenger (who I don’t think he knew either), as if we were best mates. They certainly weren’t wrong when they said that South Americans are friendly! Finally outside the airport, I was met with chaos – there were people and vehicles everywhere, which I guess is to be expected in a big city. Once we got to the Historical part of town it began to feel a little more relaxed and quaint, with stunning architecture and huge churches rising up out of nowhere on every corner.
The hostel I’m staying in is a really adorable little place off a pedestrian street, very clean and well kept, with a lovely friendly feel to it. It reminds a bit of the place in the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, and I’m expecting Judie Dench to turn up at any moment. Having finally arrived, I left my bags in my room and headed for a refreshing shower, which turned out to be much more ‘refreshing’ than anticipated, because it was cold…that said, it did wake me up a bit. I donned my #travel outfit of bumbag, cap, and rucksack, and headed out to see what joys awaited me in the great City of Mexico.
Although there were a lot of people about, it didn’t feel overwhelmingly full of tourists. The majority of people were definitely Mexicans, which unfortunately meant that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I need to be maybe 3 shades darker before I can pass as a Mexican – nothing 9 months can’t sort out! After wandering around for a while just soaking up the atmosphere, I headed to the Museo de Bellas Artes for a bit of culture. I was quite excited to get to see some of the murals by Jose Riviera which were painted after the Mexican Revolution, as we’d studied these in a first year module.
Having enjoyed Mexico’s finest art, I found myself outside the Town Hall where there was a large marquee with loads of little stalls. People were selling everything from clothing to soap to local Mexican cuisine. There was every type of enchilada under the sun available, and, I kid you not, even insect enchiladas. I think I must have walked past a dozen stalls with massive bowl of insects of all sizes… Going for a much safer (and more appetising) option, I went for a sort of sautéed corn dish – basically corn taken off the cob once cooked and mixed with some herbs and spices – which was just fine for me. I finished that off with some mango that I had been eyeing up. I paid $25 Mexican pesos for what appeared to be an entire mango, which is the equivalent of 2p! It is possibly the best mango I have ever eaten in my life.
It was about then that the fatigue of a 12 hour flight and 6 hour time difference hit me and so I retreated back to the idyllic Casa San Ildefonso for a little rest. Alas, the Dame herself had still not appeared, so instead I made conversation with another lost traveller, who had somehow ended up staying in Mexico City for almost 3 weeks after only planning on being there a few days…
So, day 1 in Mexico completed! Between straddling a 6-hour time difference, having been awake since 3am (Mexico time) and also having minimal snooze on the plane anyway, I really don’t know what time it is…so I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep, hopefully without being eaten alive by mosquitoes, before tomorrow’s adventures to the Pyramids!