Street vendor tricycle filled with flowers

Month #3 in Mexico City – Finally Settling In

I really feel like we have finally settled into life in La Condesa and along with that has come a sense of natural rhythm and normalcy here in Mexico City. My stress level has gone down considerably as I have adjusted to the new pace of life. It’s the little things, like knowing where to find certain food products, the best grocery stores to go to and the local cafe with the best coffee, pastry and strong wifi. I walk through Parque Mexico in the middle of the day and chuckle as I watch the dog walkers trying not to get their 10 dogs (of all shapes and sizes) all twisted up with the different leashes. Then you have the experienced dog walkers who have their 10 dogs lined up, laying down and waiting patiently to be walked again. [Note: I’ll never understand why so many people in La Condesa have dogs if they have to hire someone to walk them everyday, but hey, every each their own]. I walk with confidence through Mercado Medellin and know exactly which stands to buy my cheese from, my fruits and vegetables from, my fish and meat from. I have started learning names of the different vendors and they have learned mine. I purposely take the long way home or turn on unknown streets to stumble across new things and I keep my notebook handy to write about my discoveries.
 
Mural en El Centro Histórico

 

Organic Produce – Mercado 100
You get used to waking up to these strange but distinct sounds – birds chirping, a distant sound of a guy selling churros, the blender from the lady next door. At night, aside from the constant sound of distant honking horns, there is also this distinct high pitched screeching sound, like a singing tea kettle, that comes from los carritos de los camotes selling hot sweet potatoes. I chuckle every time I see the guys that circle around with a modified bike selling tamales oaxaquenos using a very distinct recording that repeats something like, “¡Tamales oaxaqueños! ¡Ricos tamales oaxaqueños!” The strange thing is though, is that you hear the same recording in many parts of the city and you wonder, wow, this guy must be in great shape if he can pass through all of these neighborhoods! But then, I read somewhere that a while ago one guy made a recording of himself selling tamales, because he had become famous for his ad. Now, everyone who sells tamales all over Mexico City uses that same recording thinking that they too will have the same success (here is an actual recording). At least once a day you can also see or hear the truck that blasts a different recording announcing that they are willing to pick up any basic used home appliance. A rather distinct female voice on the recording dictates in a monotone voice all of the things that they pick up, “lavadoras, secadoras, licuadoras, tostadoras, estufas, refrigeradores, microondas etc.” After a while, this one can really get under your skin as it’s not the most pleasant recording while enjoying your morning cup of coffee, but it adds to the jumble of unusual sounds.

 

Azulejo en Polanco
I have learned how to cross the street with purpose and a bit of aggressiveness – if not, I would never be able to cross the street! I have fallen in love with a type of sweet snack made with honey and amaranto, called dulce de alegría (roughly translated to “sweet delight”). Amaranto is a type of grain (called amaranth in english although I had never heard of it until now) and was a staple in the Aztec diet. However when Cortez and the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, amaranto crops were burned and its use forbidden. Luckily, the little plant has tough roots and was never quite eliminated. Amaranto is a strong source of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It’s a lot like quinoa but softer and a lot cheaper! They sell the alegría bars on every corner and in every metro station so I never have to go far to get my fix. Aside from my new found love of amaranto, I frequent a small juice stand a block from my house that makes me pretty much any kind of smoothie or fresh squeezed juice my heart desires for $1.25 or under (try to beat that Jamba Juice!).


For an update on what I’m doing to fill my time here: I just finished my Spanish course at CEPE (El Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros) at UNAM and am enjoying a bit of relaxation time. I am happy to announce that I have accepted a permanent, year-long teaching position at an elementary school not far from my house. I will be teaching English to 4th, 5th and 6th graders and I am elated to have this opportunity to grow in my profession. Not to mention that having a full-time job that I enjoy really grounds me here in Mexico City and gives me purpose – something I think I have been desperately searching for since I arrived. The position starts in mid-August and I couldn’t be happier. Until then, Ray and I are planning a 2-week backpacking trip to the Yucatan Peninsula – it’s a rather spur of the moment decision and we plan to hit the road any day now!

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