Last thursday, I headed home after work and I was tired. I bailed out of going to the gym (boo for blog accountability but I went yesterday) and was sitting in my room feeling very exhausted. I was listening to a podcast when I heard a knock at my door. One of my roommates asked, “Would you like some wine?” Obviously, this piqued my interest so I headed downstairs, assuming there would be AN open bottle, maybe two that someone had opened. Nope, there were at least 4 cases of wine on the counter and I think 3 bottles were opened over the course of the night. One of my roommates is studying wine! At school! And works in a wineshop to learn more! And sells wine to the house at wholesale prices! OMG! A shipment had just come and people were grabbing their orders from her. I placed one for next month and we had an awesome evening sampling different wines and talking about different grapes and stuff. I told them about my trip to Mendoza and she told us about selling wine in the shop. It was really fun to have some wine savvy there as we tasted and I’m looking forward to hopefully many more wine nights. How did I get so lucky?
After wine night, I went to bed and got up very early for work. Ashoka and IBM led a workshop on social media for social entrepreneurs and I was assigned to live tweet it. I got to the office at 8:30 (ugh) and helped set up the conference. There was coffee and some small pastries and fruit for breakfast but no disposable dishware, something US offices should adapt (and probably could if they had the housekeeping Mexico has). The conference was pretty cool, some of the info was pretty basic and I think it could have done more in helping these non profits figure out how they’re going to improve their social media, not just that they should but it was so much fun to livetweet! At the end, the different foundations projected their profile pages and we all critiqued them which felt very tangible. If you want to see the tweets they’re @ashoka_mx with #IBMSocialMx. I loved tweeting in spanish and I’ll get to go to more events soon which is awesome. On friday night, I finally got to move into my permanent room which is a lot nicer and has a more comfortable bed (thank goodness). I unpacked finally (as much as I could because there are no drawers or shelves) and videochatted with some friends.
On Saturday, I slept in and then got frustrated waiting to see if people in the house were going to do things (someone had mentioned a movie, another said they were down for a museum). I decided to go to the gym and then walk over to a cafe I had read about in the recent 36 hours in Mexico City piece. I officially joined my gym and have a real ID card (I also got a public transport card this weekend so feeling very legit). After a workout, I walked towards Condesa by Parque México, a huge and gorgeous park with public wifi, a little running path and lots of cute shaded benches. There’s a huge clock which is a gift from Armenia in commemoration of the Armenian genocide and I loved its colors. As I walked there, I got to check out Condesa’s hipster cred, which includes a cupcake shop and a place that only sells Chai tea. What really got me excited was a falafel shop called el falafelito! I had to stop for a late lunch and got a falafelito (three falafels with everything in a baby pita of your choice; one of the flavor options was chipotle) and for only a few bucks more I got a bowl of vegan lentil soup and a mini plate of hummus and pita. There was tahini sauce, israeli hot sauce and so much delicious. I love hummus and am so happy that it’s only a 20 minute walk from my house. I walked through the park and found the cafe I was looking for but at that point I wasn’t hungry, more looking for a place to read and get coffee. I took advantage of the municipal wifi and the people walking with starbucks cups to find a well airconditioned and spotless symbol of American globalization (that serves iced coffee). I read for a few hours and then walked home to get ready for a party!
The party gets an exclamation mark because HELLO someone invited us to a party! Socializing here seems to mainly take place in private spaces: the fact of long commutes for so many limits the after work hangouts and many restaurants close around 4 or at 8. I haven’t been to clubs yet and have seen some crowded bars but house parties on weekend nights seem to be the move. We went to a party that Laura, a girl from Mexico but not el DF, who volunteers at Ashoka twice a week, invited us to. It was the going away party for her french friend Adrian who used to work at Ashoka and is leaving in three weeks. Makes sense. Anyway, we took the metrobus (buses that have exclusive bus lanes, USA get on this) to a nearby stop and she came and me us. Then we went to her house and drove over to the party which was in this gorgeous backyard patio. It was in the neighborhood near two big universities, UNAM and ITAM so most people were students. I had a really fun time and definitely noticed that Mexicans move more at parties. At one point, Laura came up to Arjun and I and asked if we were bored. We were having a nice conversation and comparing the party to frat life at Penn but she said we looked bored because we weren’t dancing. Noted. They tried to teach us all these mexican dances and we failed miserably. One of them was this dance that everyone does at weddings which vaguely resembles the electric slide but with far more rhythm and speed required. We could not get the hang of it. A little before two, we got a cab back and were able to direct the guy without issue (except he got off one exit too early so it took longer). I’m really glad I went and it was really interesting to see how people interacted. Whenever I say I’m from New York here, people flip out and one person told me he thought I was french until he heard my accent. I’ll take the half of that sentence that’s a compliment to the grave! Woohoo!
Today, I slept in (sense a theme) and left the house around 4 to go read in a coffeeshop (totally uncharacteristic, I know!). I had seen a picture of a really well designed coffeeshop on my friend/mexican guru Isa’s instagram a while back and looked up the closest location, which was in a mall about 15 minutes away in a neighborhood I hadn’t been to. Sold! The shop was in a mall which did not thrill me but hey, malls are interesting if you’re a solo foreigner. I walked around the mall (because there was no directory and the coffesehop was on the third floor) and noticed lots of fun things:
- There is an applebee’s in mexico. That’s just a shame. There was also a dairy queen, a starbucks, crabtree and evelyn, a nike store and an authorized Apple retailer.
- There was a very strange kiosk that let you pick some flavor of potato chip and then add a ton of toppings to it (like hot sauces and also shredded carrots).
- There was another kiosk advertising an injection free version of botox which they would give you right then and there.
- Walking on escalators is not a thing here.
- McDonalds softserve is also very well priced in this country (will soon cave in memory of my dulce de leche conos in BA).
The coffeeshop was well designed and has the coolest typography. Even though they actually sell whole bean bags and brewing equipment most people seemed to get something blended or a hot chocolate, of which they had many flavors. I also may buy a mug from there if I have room in my suitcase in 2 months. I sat with my drink and finished one of my books. Then I got froyo (which was not self serve but for one price you get unlimited toppings) so all was well. Candied pepitas would be a very worthwhile addition to any American froyo place. Before leaving the mall, I went to the huge superstore which was Target level in size to see if they had better inventory than the local one. I got baby spinach, almond milk and granola without added sugar! #SCORE! I also found greek yogurt without added sugar but it’s full fat so it’s clear that there is no fage 0% in this beautiful country.
I got home, cooked some veggies and facetimed my parents (hi guys!). I’m excited for this week of work and hope to make more concrete city exploring plans for next weekend. It’s been over a week and I’m so excited I have almost two more months here.