L.A. to Mexico City: Tales from a Xicana
What inspired you to move to Mexico City?
My move was inspired by my affinity for Mexican culture. Being the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, I've always felt trapped between two cultures- Mexican and American. Mexico City seemed to be the perfect place for me to find answers to questions about my identity. Also, I absolutely fell in love with the city the first time I visited back in 2014. After a week in the city, I gave myself a year to prep for my move. Somehow I made it work!
What are your favorite districts and why?
This is tough question, I love them all! Each neighborhood or colonia is so rich with culture and color, they are each so distinct and unique in their own way. I probably frequent Centro Historico, La Condessa and La Roma the most.
Centro Historico is the historic downtown of the city. It's so busy! There's a lot of history in this part of town, which is what I love the most about it. Centro Historico, hosts Aztec temple ruins, historic monuments, museums and amazing street food!
La Condessa and La Roma are what I like to think of as the Silverlake of Mexico City (For those who aren't from L.A. Silverlake has a hipster vibe. A foodie, art and music thriving culture). They are very trendy enclaves with artsy fartsy bars and restaurants, colorful coffee shops, and dog walkers everywhere.
What has been the most unexpected?
Unfortunately, the classism and racism are very apparent. It's very unsettling. Mexico is beautiful but not perfect, it harbors a lot of internalized racism and systemic classism.
What are your top 3 experiences? elaborate.
1. Climbing to the top of the pyramid of Teotihuacan! Being privileged enough to visit this sacred ancient Mexica site was quite the experience, exhausting but well worth it!
2. My boyfriend and I took an impromptu trip to the Yucatan Peninsula.We had absolutely no plan, but somehow managed to have an amazing week long trip. It's so beautiful down there! So many Mayan ruins, nature, and beautiful beaches. The best part was riding bikes inside of the Mayan architectural site, Cobá. It's so vast and lush that you have to move around on bikes to see different ruins. So fun!
3. Experiencing Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca was by far one of my most memorable experiences. One of the main reasons why I moved to Mexico in October was so I could witness this sacred holiday and tradition in it's motherland. I don't think I could've picked a better time to visit Oaxaca, the city alone is so rich and colorful,
What have been the challenges you've faced?
Making friends and losing my debit card! It probably goes without saying, but moving to a new and unfamiliar place by yourself can be a bit isolating. However, this challenge has also been a blessing. Being alone has allowed me to improve the relationship with myself. I've gotten to know more about my Mexican motherland while getting to know myself.
Casa de Toño in La Zona Rosa! It's a 24 hour restaurant with the best menu of typical Mexican dishes. Order the flautas de papa or the pozole, so good! I eat here way too often...
Also, I like eating in my local mercado when I can, so many good food finds!
Lastly, street food is the best! Equites (cups of corn) and Tacos de canasta are to die for!
Xaman, in La Zona Rosa (pronounced shaman): Being the bruja that I am, I love this bar! It's really hidden, so it has that speakeasy vibe from the outside, but once you walk in the aroma of incense and sage takes over. Their drink menu is very unique, it carries the same witchy vibe as the place. They play hip-hop here too, which has seemed to be so hard to find in Mexico City.
Botica, in La Condessa: Botica is great for mezcal! Mezcal is a Mexican liquor similar to tequila, but they're not to be confused! Botica is an apothecary of different types of mezcales and mixed drinks. When you visit, try the mezcal and beer combo, and for a drink snack try the chapulines- grasshoppers! They're the best. What I love most about this place is the menu, they are literally pieces of cardboard with handwritten lists of their drinks.
Pulqueria Insurgentes, in La Roma: I love this place! I've only been here once, and I've been meaning to go back. If you are in Mexico City, BE SURE to try Pulque. Pulque is this fermented alcoholic beverage that comes in all different types of flavors. I wish I could explain its process, but all I know is that it's good. Places that specialize in pulque are called Pulquerias. Thus, this place has a smorgasbord of this stuff. Also, I love this bar because it has multiple rooms and levels, and there always seems be some kind of art exhibit or live music playing. Definitely check it out.
What advice would you give to someone visiting Mexico City?
Come with a willingness to learn from the city. Make an effort to speak Spanish, and leave the tourist pretentions back home!