I’ve been meaning to write for a while now; unfortunately, I’ve been taken hostage by a busy life. I’ve finally managed to break the bondage of rope and feel free to write again. While I acknowledge my words are rather late and cannot eradicate the wreckage the earthquake has caused, I hope to commemorate you as the country that took me completely by surprise.
Mexico, my heart is saddened by this tragedy; my first thoughts spring to your people specifically Mariana, her husband Fernando, Julian, Antonio and my Uber driver Fernando. I pray they are safe on your soil. I think back to the night they entertained our crazy idea of watching a Lucha Libre show with us (Mexican version of WWE). They ensured that the experience was authentically Mexican – educating us on the line-up planned for the night, from the favourite wrestlers all the way to teaching us the Mexican “lingo” to cheer on with the crowd and ensuring we sneaked in a photo with these drama-filled celebrities.
My mind meanders through the magnificent streets of Centro Historico, the beating heart of your Capital. We began one morning with brunch on the terrace of the El Mayor. The food was spectacular and so was the view. This was the perfect pre-set to exploring the rest of this historic wonder. I can still picture the Zocalo (the main square of your Capital), your flag flying high and the National Cathedral standing proudly therein. Meandering deeper I reflect on the magnificent architecture of the old post office, the Angel of Independence, Biblioteca Vasconcelos (a huge fascinating library), Revolution Museo and other copious Museos. I can feel the energy of your bustling streets around me, my mind stops at the landmark I obsessed over – Palacio de Bellas Artes. My attraction was fed by the grandeur of this building, the muralism showcased inside, as well as the Ballet Folkloria which so aptly encapsulated your history in just a few hours.
Still on this virtual reminiscent journey, my mind wanders to the Alameda Central Park adjacent to de Bella Artes. I wish I was strolling through once again on a Sunday afternoon bearing witness to your cheerful locals dancing in the park, your old folk deep in thought over a heated game of chess, your bambinos (and some adults too) playing jovially in the water fountains scattered through the park. I salivate as I recall the numerous food stalls boasting the most unusual snacks. I remember snacking on tacos for days, lemonade laced with chilli, the sweetest mangos served with dried chilli and crisps drenched in chilli sauce. Till this day I replicate these delicious snacks in my home.
Oh Mexico, who knew your Capital had so many different boroughs (16 in total) to explore, each with its own character! Sitting here I am transported to the streets of Polanco- easily your Beverly Hills, Condesa and Roma- the so-called Soho with its bohemian feel and Santa Fe the business district. Who can forget Coyoacan, the neighbourhood that houses the Frida Kahlo museum and has a great vibe with its street market, or Xochimilco- the little Venice of Mexico City where we cruised along the canals of the floating gardens and listened to the mariachi bands serenade as we floated by?
As I write this, I chuckle at the memory of our second day in one of your boroughs, Polanco. We were looking for a restaurant to brunch at. As it was in the period of the Easter Holiday most of the restaurants were closed. We finally stumbled upon one that was open, famished we sat down ready to order. Little did we know that the menu was only in Spanish and the waiter did not speak or understand English! We spent a good few minutes trying to decipher the menu using google translate when we were rescued by friendly patrons at the restaurant that assisted us with interpreting the menu and placing our order. If you don’t speak Spanish, the struggle is real!
Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, even though you were not impacted by the catastrophic earthquake, your immense beauty still warrants a mention. I shut my eyes and cast my mind back to the most magnificent shades of blue I witnessed at the Tulum Mayan Ruins. I remember exploring the ruins, marvelling over the architecture, spotting camouflaged iguanas, finally reaching the pinnacle – the lone ruin overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Time stood still as I absorbed the gorgeous site of the blue hues that stand in stark contrast to the ancient Mayan construction. The day was a scorcher and the afternoon spent on the beach nearby the ruins was most refreshing!
Playa Del Carmen, your highlights for me were absorbing the great vibes of 5th Avenue and Cenote hopping! I flash back to 5th Avenue (Quinta as it is called by the locals) a pedestrian street lined by street entertainment, shops and restaurants. We spent our evenings strolling this street carefully picking out restaurants to have supper and dessert; often the freshest seafood and the best, most authentic churros!
Méjico, you are inundated with thousands of Cenotes (natural sinkholes) of which we had the pleasure of visiting three – Cenote Eden, Cenote Azul and Cenote Cristalino. We hopped between the three using a collectivo (mini bus taxi). Each Cenote offered a different experience from swimming in cave like structures, to cliff diving into the Cenote or even a free fish spa – the little buggers nibbling at your feet. These pure, majestic bodies of water are formed when a cave collapses, creating a magical world of aquatic life and wondrous underwater rock formations, which afforded us a unique under water experience and served as a most splendid day of fun in the sun.
On the doorstep of your Capital, just a bus ride away is another phenomenon, Teotihuacan. Running down the middle of this archaeological site is the Avenue of the dead which connects the Temple of Quetzalcoatl Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. We spent our last day in your Capital here, climbing the pyramids, soaking in our last view and embarking on the ever so unique experience of lunching in a cave (La Gruta restaurant). This day full of your culture was the perfect close to our adventure.
Dear Mexico, I flash back a year later and thank you for a glorious 3 weeks enriched with spirited culture, cuisine and lots of fun in the sun. I will always remember you as the country that took me completely by surprise.
Some memories captured of our 3 week stint in Mexico: Gallery