Living AbroadMexicoMexico City

Hasta Luego, Mexico: Leaving Behind a Broken City

It was a weird time to be leaving Mexico, especially Mexico City, given that the capital was just hit with the most devastating earthquake since that which flattened it 32 years ago to the day, in 1985.

Luckily though, this time around I wasn’t even in Mexico City when the earthquake hit; instead, I was far closer to the Jojutla, Morelos epicentre, up on a hill in Puebla, watching rising puffs of grey smoke from the historic centre below mark the collapse of several buildings, all while reflecting on the fact that there were worse places to be during a 7.1 earthquake than right next to a fort that kept out the French one fateful Cinco de Mayo.

Yet despite missing the initial chaos of the earthquake, making it back to the capital was somewhat of a logistical nightmare, and we pulled into a city shrouded in dust and shock and panic.

leaving behind a broken city

El Fuerte de Loreto, Puebla: Luckily, we were here when the earthquake struck.

I’d had grand plans for my last day in Mexico City: I’d go for my favourite coffee in Coyoacán, take a trip to get my eyebrows threaded and overindulge in all my favourite Mexican foods, notably chilaquiles and tamales. Instead, I woke up in a friend of a friend’s flat (because I semi freaked out about the possibility of aftershocks and didn’t want to stay in my house), before returning home for the last time to take a cold shower and cram all my worldly belongings in my rucksack. Oh, and don’t forget my inaugural visit to iHop for a mildly disappointing breakfast and a surprisingly decent latte.

In short, that was not at all the way I’d planned to leave the city I’d called home for over a year, a city which had grown on me somewhat despite my initial reservations about taking up temporary residence in this North American megalopolis. It was a horribly hurried departure, one marked by an overwhelming feeling of impotence and an inability to help out with aid and rescue efforts on the ground.

However, it was simultaneously an exodus marked by a lingering sentiment of relief.

Relief that I wouldn’t have to stay in my old ass flat with the cracks along the floor, in an area where buildings were already being condemned or just straight up collapsing in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Relief that I could escape the horrors of the situation and reclaim some sense of normality upon arriving to Bogotá, Colombia, the first destination on what will be a several months long trip through South America.

Relief that no one I know was too directly affected by what happened.

This breed of slightly shameful relief came tinged with sadness though, a I felt a distinct pang of loss, both for Mexico City and myself, with an overarching awareness of just what I was leaving behind. There are so many things I’ll miss about this country, one whose central and southern regions are currently rebuilding themselves from a devastation that echoed that of 32 years prior. Here are just a few of them.


EVERYTHING I’LL MISS ABOUT MEXICO

Mexican Food

Because, obviously? Mexican food might well be my one true culinary love (although my British tendency for tea drinking is well-documented), so I’m not looking forward to six weeks of bandeja paisa and far too many frijoles for my liking in Colombia. (Having said that, we have already tried the Bogota specialty of ajíaco since we arrived, and I can confirm that it is fucking delicious.)

Even so, I’ll miss the Mexican street food stands and the remarkable variety of dishes that one country has managed to conjure up from a petite selection of staple ingredients (corn, chili, avocado and lime), not to mention the triple-threat of Vitamin T dishes: tortas, tacos and tamales.

leaving behind a broken city

Victoria Beer

What can I say? I just really love commercial Mexican beers. Drinking snob, I am not.

Related Post: A Quick Review of Popular Mexican Beers + Guide to Drinking Beer in Mexico

Mexican Accents

Ever since I moved to Mexico back in 2014 and grew charmingly accustomed to all the haphazardly sprinkled wey’s and a la verga’s that dominated everyday conversation, I just haven’t been able to truly love another Spanish accent since. Hearing the multitude of voices and accents marked by a Mexican heritage every single day (spoken by people other than my Mexican boyfriend) will be one thing I really miss when I’m in South America. Sorry, all other Spanish speakers.

Farmacia Guadalajara

A weirder thing I’ll miss is the comfort of the good ol’ Farmacia Guadalajara and its fresh baked biscuit section, and name that reminds me of the first place in Mexico I ever called home. Guadalajara that is, not a pharmacy…obviously.

leaving behind a broken city

Just hanging out in Guadalajara with my sister and some cows.

The Mexico City Metro

To people who regularly travel on the metro, this entry might seem practically incomprehensible, but I loved navigating the city below ground, shutting out the sun-dwellers on the surface and indulging in some people watching as I made my way from point A to B and back again. To add to this, I’m going to miss actually understanding the public transport system and how to use it without looking like a total novice.

Oh, and you can obviously ignore this comment entirely for rush hour travel on the Mexico City metro. That can fuck right off.

Related Post: How NOT to Piss People Off on the Mexico City Metro | A Beginner’s Guide to Using the Mexico City Metro

The People

Mexicans have never failed to be welcoming and helpful (giving directions aside), and I’ll miss being surrounded by Mexicans on a day to day basis.

Mexican Pesos

There’s something comforting and weighty about a good 10 pesos coin, a weird observation which I first realised I appreciated in Guatemala, a country in which the coins are like pirate gold, light and jangly. And don’t even get me started on the confusion that is Colombian currency, where everything costs thousands of pesos and seems to exist solely to bamboozle a freshly-arrived traveller who’s used to multiplying her pounds by 20, not by 4000.

Related Post: From Guatemala to Guatepeor in Antigua

leaving behind a broken city

Wtf kind of excuse for coins are these, Guatemala?!

Feeling at Home

Mexico feels like home to me now and that sense of knowing exactly where you stand, understanding much of the culture and bizarre ritual that marks each daily interaction is one thing that I’ll hate to lose in South America. Some people live for that feeling of exciting disorientation when arriving in a new city. I, on the other hand, do not. I like to feel at home, and perhaps that’s the biggest thing I’ll miss about Mexico.

(Who am I kidding? It’ll definitely be the food.)


So, there it is, my miniature musing on all the things I’ll miss now that I’m no longer going to be in Mexico for the foreseeable future. Fellow Mexico dwellers, what did I miss off this list? What would you miss about Mexico? Tell me in the comments!

4 comments

  1. Shari 25 September, 2017 at 16:52 Reply

    I only go for a couple weeks at a time, but I’ve never gone yet when I’m ready to go home at the end of the trip, and I’m always, ALWAYS planning my next trip, sometimes even when I have another trip planned in the meantime! It gets in your blood for sures.

    Hope you’re having a great time in SA & be sure to keep us posted!

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