One of the biggest things living abroad has taught me is how to be alone. A year ago, I hadn’t yet left for Argentina and the idea that I would soon have to make so many decisions on my own would have terrified me. Now, I really relish being alone and even made sure to find alone time last semester at Penn (mostly by sneaking downtown to morning flywheel classes). It’s also equally important to make sure you have time with people, even if you need to be more proactive about it than you’re used to. The most crucial part of the alone vs. social choice is listening to yourself. Since there are a lot more unknowns in a different place, trying to push yourself to be in a big group when you want to be alone or vice versa will only feel worse. Having confidence in what you need is really really hard (and pushing yourself is a really good idea sometimes) but it is a great feeling when you can take care of your yourself even in a foreign place.
To connect this back to my weekend, I did a variety of things in a variety of settings (sounds thrilling right?) based on what I wanted/needed at the time. First, I took a really late lunch on friday, got a crepe from the stand opened by a french guy who studied abroad in mexico and never left and then I had a really quiet night at home. I had lots of early mornings last week and really needed to rest.
On Saturday, I woke up and ate breakfast, facetimed with the fam (hey guys!), and then went to the gym. My monthlong membership expires this week but I have less than a month left here so I need to see if I can negotiate with them for a deal. Then I went to grab some food with Ramsés at this adorable cafe in Roma Norte. The name translates to a mom and pop shop and they incorporate lots of cool socially responsible practices into the business such as teaching people in a poor community to raise eggs and then only buying them from there.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do that night and one of my housemates was hosting a very loud party so I messaged Martin, a friend of Isa’s that I met when he visited Philly to see what was up. My timing was perfect because he invited me to his friend’s apartment where wine was on the agenda. SOLD. He picked me up from the restaurant and we went to his friend’s place in Condesa. His friends were two American girls who have been living here for 2 and 4 years, I believe. One is a teacher and one does consulting. They were so nice and it was great to drink wine and chat in a mix of spanish and english. Martin’s high school friend also joined us. We later went out to a club that was a lot of fun and apparently does some sort of wild brunch party once a month so it gets crowded early. Then we headed to another club that was not yet popping so we took a detour to the nextdoor taco stand. I’m still very unclear on the mexican meal schedule because they seem to eat a giant meal in the middle of the day (at like 4 on the weekends) and then not much else but I was so ready for tacos. If I can drunkenly eat nopales, peppers, and cheese inside a tortilla for the rest of my life, I will be happy. At this point it was after 1:30 and I decided to head home but it was a great night and so nice to meet a new group of people that I’ll hopefully see again. They’re so kind and welcoming and it always reminds me that small gestures of hospitality mean so much more in an unfamiliar context. So be nice people!
On Sunday morning, I woke up to a very messy house post a very long/loud party and decided to get out of there. I had tentative plans to go to a random meetup/picnic for people who had just moved to Mexico City with another intern from work but I left kind of late and stopped for a green juice (duh). I got off at the stop near the meet up which was in los Bosques de Chapultepec, a park even bigger than central park, and found myself in the middle of a protest. I can’t figure out what it was for because all of my google just tells me that they blocked this intersection. It was super overwhelming to exit the station in the midst of swarms of people chanting and wearing the same colors. I tried to cross the street but there were police barricades and they wouldn’t let me out and told me to go back in the subway and use the underpass. Of course I don’t have pictures but it was a lot. At that point I was pretty freaked out (it wasn’t violent or anything but it was definitely a situation that could have escalated) so I got back on the subway and went one stop further, which is still by Chapultepec because it’s so big. I settled into Starbucks to grab an iced coffee and calm down (this is seriously the nicest starbucks I’ve ever been to, a really innovative indoor-outdoor space) and then headed to the Museum of Anthropology and History, which is HUGE. I spent over three hours there and definitely did not see everything. There’s kind of a general intro to human anthro and then sections for each region: The Toltecs, the Mexica (what we know as Aztecs), Maya, Oaxaca, the West and the North and then a section on modern indigenous life. It is so well done (though not very much is translated but there are audio guides which I didn’t bother with) and there is a good mix of objects in cases and then larger scale scenes, artifacts and reproductions. Each section even has some outdoor space where you can walk among buildings in that region’s style and there are timelines throughout. One of the highlights was sneaking on a tour organized by a German woman for her sons in the Maya section. She tried to get us to pay her for watching when we tipped the guide at the end but whatever. The guide was excellent and told us all about how the Mayan rulers were made to be crosseyed when they were children and had an extra bridge of beeswax inserted in their noses and had teeth made of turquoise inserted. INTENSE. He also explained that the Maya were just as violent as the Mexica (aztecs) but people didn’t know that until this huge painting of a fight was discovered in the 1970s. I wound up talking to an older couple that had also snuck onto the tour and they were from Philly! The wife is a professor at Villanova and her husband works for the school union (not the Philly district) and they’re doing a houseswap. We had a nice chat before I continued looking at the exhibits. I’m really glad I went and it showed how much more there is to learn about the history of this part of the world, something that’s so under taught and so diverse. Then I took the subway back to Roma and looked for a place to watch the US-Portugal game. I didn’t want to go to a bar so I found an ice cream shop with a tv and got a cucumber lime agua and settled in. OMG that goal in minute 94 was ROUGH to see but at least we still have a chance to advance. Mexico plays today at 3 so I’m anxious to see if the office shuts down. I came home, skyped Emma and made some dinner and went to bed pretty early. My second month here will definitely differ from my first, but that’s natural and I’m going to make the most of it.
Have a great week everyone!