Travels in Mexico – Mexico City layover

Usually things that come out of these clay pots are pretty tasty.

Mexico, we’re back again. We had been waiting for the escape for a long time. Last year we embarked on the most epic road trip of our lives, traveling almost 4000 miles around Mexico and making it as far south as the state of Oaxaca. We returned home thrilled but with a longing for more. Mexico is truly a land of infinite possibilities, the more you see, the more you need to see.

This year we flew to Oaxaca to pick up where we left off. We have traveled a great bit of the Americas, but still have a large unexplored section of land between Oaxaca, Mexico and Antigua, Guatemala. We thought about driving down again, but eventually decided keep it simple and just bring backpacks. We left out car in Las Vegas and after a few hour flight we were landing in the heart of it all, Mexico City. We had a few day “layover” to enjoy Carrie’s favorite city before flying off to Oaxaca.

The largest city in the Americas and one of the largest metropolis on earth, Mexico City is a wild and amazing place. We have traveled through here 4 or 5 times now and its really nice to step into a giant city and already know exactly where to go and what to do. After getting a 180 day enter stamp form customs we were soon in a taxi and headed for the Roma district. Roma & Condesa are right next to each other, they are very safe neighborhoods where tourists can walk around any hour of the day or night without danger. The Roma is a little more normal people, where the Candesa is full of fancy restaurants and people trying to show off how rich they are.

The area of present day Mexico City was inhabited by a great number of people long before the Spanish even arrived and was home to between 100,000-200,000 strong when first seen by Europeans. The ancient area was a swamp underneath volcanic peaks. The Aztec ruled over the city that was constructed on top of the water, nearby to the Pyramids at Teotihuacan (which were ancient even to the aztec, supposedly build by gods eons before). Cortez and his cronies burnt the Azteca city to the ground, draining the swamp and constructing the modern city on top of it. Fast forward to now, you have never ending buildings constructed on top of soft swamp with large earthquakes brought on by the nearby volcanos. Because of all this, most buildings in he city are slightly off kilter, every one kind of slowly falling over in its own direction.

We first went to CDMX in 2014 and there were not that many tourists. Nowadays the word is out, and you hear English on the street around every corner. People like to travel to Mexico City because it is super safe (everywhere tourists go), its clean (much cleaner than LA or NY), the food is great (and cheap), the people are friendly and the underground metro system works as well as any in Europe or Asia (it is better than NYC and other USA metro systems). There are also very few homeless (very few) and no one hassles you ever. I feel 100% safer in the touristy areas of Mexico City than I do in New York, LA, or San Fransisco.

Arriving after dark, we get to our hotel then walk over to where we like to eat street food. Tacos and Gorditas tonight, with a fresh juice. The first night’s sleep is hard, the city is loud and we are mountain people now.

The city stays open late, and rises late as well. You can’t find much open before 8am. We get some espresso tonics from the cafe next door then walk down to our favorite breakfast mother/daughter duo who post up in front of Oxxo every day (Mexican 7/11). Their specialty are tlacoyos. They start with fresh blue masa (masa is the corn paste like dough that is the base of all tortillas and tortilla like things). She stuffs the masa with pinto beans (like a Salvadoran papusa) then smashes the dough in a tortilla press. She then puts this thick, bean stuffed tortilla on the round flattop grill to cook a few minutes on each side. When it’s ready you pick the toppings. She has several different meats and chorrizos, but we come for the veggie stuff. I like mine with huilachoche (corn fungus), quesillo (oaxacan cheese), and nopalitos (grilled cactus). Add a little red and or green salsa and you’ve got yourself a great start to breakfast. They are 25 pesos each ($1.25) and usually one fills me up.

There are huge city parks which allow Carrie to go for long runs without dodging cars. I am starting to walk better, but just walking a few blocks still seems like marathons sometimes. Each day I get stronger and I enjoy the challenge. It’s much easier to relearn to walk by chasing tacos then at home limping around in the winter snow and ice.

Stay tuned for more!