The expression “echar raíces” is one of my favorites in Spanish. It literally means to “put down roots,” like trees, which is why I find it’s metaphorical undertone so endearing. It means to flourish in a new place – to find and nest into a home, to make deep connections with people, to find purpose, to grow and to develop into a better you, and most of all, to find happiness.
This month marks a year and a half since Ray and I first came to Mexico City. Our kind landlords and our tastefully furnished apartment nestled on one of Mexico City’s most beautiful streets was a blessing when we first moved to the city. With the chaos, frustration and uncertainty that came along with living here that first year, the apartment was like an oasis, a peaceful and safe space for us to keep our heads on straight. A little over a year later though, we felt smarter, savvier and ready for the next challenge. A few months ago we moved from that furnished apartment in the affluent, international neighborhood of La Condesa into a completely unfurnished one in the middle-class, Mexican neighborhood of Los Álamos. The new apartment needed a lot of love. But with Ray’s handiness and my creativity, it took us about three weeks to make all the fixes – a little paint, some DIY light fixtures, a few pieces of furniture, some plants and voilà, it was like a whole new place! Much to my surprise, the change wasn’t as drastic as I thought it might be and I don’t find myself longing to be back in La Condesa. That’s how I know we made the right choice.
We are in different places, professionally, than we were this time last year. We are fortunate enough to both work from anywhere and make our own schedules (a couple of Digital Nomads if you will). Ray is still working in solar but on a smaller scale. I have taken on several projects including starting a food tour company and writing an eBook (coming soon!). I am still teaching English here and there, doing freelance writing, as well as continue to guide groups for The Heart of Travel. I started volunteering with various organizations and have continued to research sustainability topics in Mexico City (stay stunned for a new project centered on this). My creativity level is through the roof and it is Mexico that has allowed me the time and freedom to be this person – to focus on my passions and fuel the fire to my ideas.
Life is slow. Money is tight but time is abundant. I cook, I read, I clean, I do yoga, I sleep 8 hours, I take long strolls through the market, I have deep phone conversations with my Grandmother. My husband is my best friend and we are rarely apart. On the weekends the city is our playground. We walk out our door and everything is at our fingertips, just waiting to be discovered. Museums, churches, neighborhoods, restaurants, organic markets, free events – the city never ceases to amaze me and I still have so much yet to see. Our travel aspirations continue to come closer to home – Taxco, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Malinalco, Durango, Veracruz and the list goes on.
Of course, Mexico City is, most definitely, not always roses and rainbows. We go through our fair share of daily headaches and frustrations – walking up and down six flights of stairs every day because our elevator broke the first week we moved in, traveling to various stores just to get specific products and lugging them back to our house on public transportation (Costco trips are always interesting), being plastered between hundreds of people in a crowded on a metro trying to get from point A to point B, hearing airplanes flying right over our apartment because we’re right in the fly zone to the airport, being ripped off and taken advantage of because we’re foreigners. But we’ve taken all of this in stride – you adapt, you adjust, you find patience. Rather than being rooted in the people that we were, Americans accustomed to a certain way of life, we have both become much more fluid which allows us to shake off the bad and bask in the good.
If I could describe life in Mexico City it would be a juxtaposition of two states of being: simplicity and chaos. This life has somehow fallen into our laps and more and more I find myself asking, “Can we stay here forever?” I’m not sure what path we’re on, but I know that one step is leading us along to the next one.