Meeting Mexico for the first time
January 1, 1970
Where does one start, when it is the very beginning of a backpacking journey? I certainly did not know. The only thing I knew that gave me both anxious thrills as well as excitement thrills, was the fact that I had a ticket that said Mexico City on it with the date November 6th 2015. Mexico City was a name I had only heard from good friends of mine that live there or negative news that had been spread around concerning some missing students. However, I was determined to explore and bring out the positive aspects. Everything about Mexico appealed to me. I obtain this quality where I feel a deep attraction to a certain country, language, music, culture, and I cannot fully put my finger on why that exactly is. It might be a feeling, a connection I made with a brief moment that one of these subjects became the center of. Mexico is one of those countries that appeals to me in every way. Culture, food, music, the people, the language. It might have something to do with the Mexican friends I made a while back which I had very good connections with. Aside from the wonderful people that I have met is the colourful language Spanish a language that has been magical to me since I was a kid.
Arriving in Mexico City
There I was on the 6th of November 2015 with a backpack twice my size, ready to go to the airport with absolutely no clue what awaited me in Mexico City. This adrenaline that bubbles up with not knowing what is coming. I can still feel it sometimes. When I arrived, I felt like a rookie. Travelling for the first time with a backpack and no plan. Let me tell you, it is the most exciting thing I have ever experienced. Before I was introduced to the world of hostels I booked myself a room in an apartment via Airbnb. Once I settled in my Airbnb apartment, it was time to explore. Where to begin in such an enormous city. The way I like to explore is by wandering around and noticing tiny details that might not be something that others notice right away. I started walking around and I saw the streets being blocked due to a great amount of motorcycles that drove by. Apparently, it was a special day dedicated to motorcycles. It was great to see how upbeat people were.
First impressions of the city
A big city like Mexico City is very easy to get lost in. Which I did. At first I did not mind, I noticed all the street signs that were named after any city in the world. I found myself back where I started, Avenida Amsterdam. The first thought I had was, you can leave a place and go as far as you want, however it will find you somehow. It was amazing to feel connected with the city of Mexico as well as with my city back home, which is Amsterdam. After a sufficient amount of wandering, I stopped by a little taco place to fully give in to the taco experience. What an experience it was. While I was enjoying wonderful tacos with beautiful spicy salsa’s, a small mariachi band with the typical Mexican sombrero’s came to stand right next to my table to play some traditional Mexican mariachi. It made me feel very welcome in Mexico City. I felt the warm energy coming from all the people around me. Smiles were given uncontrollably.
Museums of Mexico City
The next day I decided to visit some museums, in order to get a little bit of more knowledge on the historical facts of Mexico City. The first one I visited was Museo del Templo Mayor, which indicates the history the most important temple of the Aztecs and ancient history of the city. The museum was located near the main square which is called el Zócalo. The iconic square that is probably the first image you would see when you type in the city’s name on the internet. It is great to see how you relate an image with a city. After visiting the Museo del Templo Mayor, I went to another museum that had everything to do with a different iconic aspect of the city. An iconic figure named Frida Kahlo. I had not really heard of Frida before, until I did and what an amazing story it was. The museum of Frida Kahlo is her actual house that she lived in with her husband Diego Rivera. The most bright and colourful house I had ever seen. An extraordinary color blue filled with the life of flowers and paintings. As I was walking through her house it felt like I was walking into her life. Frida Kahlo was a famous Mexican painter known for her self-portraits and a feminist icon. Her paintings were a resemblance of her pain. She had an accident with a streetcar when she was younger and her husband Diego Rivera was never faithful to her. “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” a quote by Frida herself. In the museum or I should say her house actually, her wheelchair that she painted in was there and the colour palette that she used. It was exquisite to be able to walk around in the personal space of a famous painter, to be able to imagine what someone would be like and to dream of how someone would live in their environment.
The impressive ruins of Teotihuacán
Another extraordinary exhibit I went to were the ruins of Teotihuacán. The first ruins I had seen in my life. In the middle of the city there were so many tour operators that offer tours to ruins like these amongst other things. However, from that moment on a tour did not appeal to me. I wanted to experience it by myself and discover these ruins how I wanted to discover it. The first thing I did was search the internet on how to be able to get to these ruins by myself. Tripadvisor was the one that showed up mostly. It seemed to be fairly easy to get there by metro and a bus. So I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning to prepare myself for the great day. I took the metro to the big bus station in order to take the bus from there to the ruins. Once I got to the bus station, I bought my ticket and went to the spot where the bus left from. It was a bit confusing since some people directed me another way than others. Eventually, I got on a bus that had a destination that was further than the ruins, however stopped in between at the ruins or at least near them. Luckily, I saw a few confused travellers who were just as eager to know how to exactly get to our destination. We were dropped off at a spot near the ruins and were left to search out for ourselves to get to the entrance. A kind young Englishman and I had the same idea of sharing a cab to get to the entrance of the ruins. When we arrived we were pleased to know that we were one of the first visitors. I wouldn’t have wanted any other way. As free as birds we walked towards the exquisite ruins that were lying in front of us. The sun gently touched the ruin we were about to climb, which was called the pyramid of the Sun. To me it was very special to realise that hundreds of years ago people were living there and those ruins were their city, their home, their environment. We also climbed the pyramid of the Moon, these two ruins were the most important ones that are left standing. Yet another experience that I never thought in my wildest dreams I would have. What a beautiful day.
A few great friends that I have met before coming to Mexico live in Mexico City. When I was there I was in contact with them to possibly meet them while I was in town. Busy bees that they are, they did not always have time for me. Luckily, one or two nights they managed to clear their schedules and have some good old-fashioned fun with me. It was absolutely wonderful to see them again. I had a bit of a hard time with speaking Spanish at first. Once I started to practice it a bit more, I realised how much I still remembered. A few years ago I went to Seville in Spain to learn Spanish for 5 months. I hadn’t spoken Spanish since. However, it is miraculous how a brain can save so much without even noticing. My friend’s warm personalities allowed me to feel welcome in their hometown. We tried all the typical Mexican dishes and drinks. A lot of drinks and of course when we drank the tequila couldn’t be missed. However, I learned a unique way of drinking tequila which is actually way better than drinking it as a shot. Sipping on a small glass of tequila with a tomato juice on the side accompanied by a slice of lime. The green of the lime, the white of the tequila and the red of the tomato created the colours of the Mexican flag. Now that is the way to do it, in my opinion. Another typical Mexican drink is Mezcal, which is made from the same plant Agave that tequila is made from. Mezcal is mixed with all types of drinks and can also be drunk just by itself. Another funny thing that I just cannot leave unmentioned. My name is Lotte, which can be difficult to pronounce in Spanish. My friends had an easy way of pronouncing my name, comparing me to corn. A typical Mexican dish is called “elote”, which is delicious corn that can be eaten off a stick or in a cup accompanied by cream, cheese, chili and lime. In order to pronounce my name in an easy way, they called me “elote”. It was funny and different from how I am usually called by friends or family. We laughed, we danced, we had a great time.
The woman that owns the apartment that I stayed in was also one of the kindest women that I had met. She made sure that I was comfortable and told me everything about the city there was to see. She even invited me along for her birthday dinner. All of her family showed up and how wonderful these people were. That night was filled with joy and laughter. The first encounter I had with this Mexican city, culture and inhabitants was absolutely astonishing in the most positive way there can be. The enjoyment of life that I had felt as soon as I stepped into this amazing country. Friendly people showing me the way, USB sticks being sold on the subway along with many other things, the rich spicy salsa’s with every dish and lovely friends welcoming me into this new culture. I couldn’t wait for all the other cities to amaze me each in a different way.