Forgive the delays but time is speeding by at a rather uncomfortable rate. I have 15 days left in México and am no longer the new girl. My house has new people, there are new interns and employees at Ashoka and I’ll be leaving before I know it. HOW? HOW? HOW? I just keep picturing my life in a year where I won’t have the schedule of classes dictating when I leave and enter a new place.
Since I last posted, the US and México have both been eliminated from the world cup (more on that to follow), I’ve eaten some delicious food (obvio) and met more really cool people.
Last week, I had an ordinary monday and tuesday except for el mundial. Mexico played Croatia last tuesday so we had an office wide 2 hour lunch break to go watch at nearby restaurants. Oh my gosh, it was fun! There were flags hanging everywhere and kids with noisemakers in the street and the whole thing was really communal. (The picture is from an argentine restaurant ironically).
On Wednesday, I went to the IPADE, a business school that I’ve visited before, for an event where their social innovation club presented successful case studies of social entrepreneurship. The students varied in their talents but it’s always interesting to see the partnerships Ashoka develops with various sectors (and there was a wine and appetizer reception afterwards).
My next two days were quite quite busy with a bootcamp for emerging entrepreneurs hosted with American Express. This program happens in the US, Mexico and I believe Canada and featured 15 entrepreneurs in early stages. They had two days of intense sessions on public policy, communication, social entrepreneurship, impact measurement and more culminating in pitches presented to a panel. Many of the speakers were Ashoka fellows so it was cool to meet them. The participants were involved in so many great projects (I was seriously inspired by a 21 year old girl who started SinTrata, a rapidly growing anti–trafficking organization while a student and an architect who helps communities design and build their own green communal spaces) and were very supportive of one another. Lots of them want to apply to be fellows and it seems like a mutually beneficial partnership. On Thursday night, the whole group went bowling to unwind and hang out more casually. Bowling alleys are exactly the same in Mexico, complete with 80s music and greasy pizza. Though I was a little confused by the invitation at first.
On Saturday, I woke up with the intention of doing work before joining Tomás for a party that night. Luckily, Ramsés also had work to do so we set off to get food and then do work at La Casa del Agua, a water filtration place and garden/cafe that’s great for working. Because a street was closed, our taxi dropped us off almost right in front of Mercado Roma, a pretty new gourmet food hall along the lines of Chelsea Market (though obviously way smaller). The first floor is a bunch of stands, the second is a restaurant and the third is a terrace bar. The food was great, with so many options. There’s tapas, a raw bar, hamburgers, barbecue, traditional quesadillas, sandwiches, juices, falafel, gelato, coffee, wine, cheese, macarons, really almost anything you could think of. And there are samples! I had a quesadilla with mushrooms on a blue corn tortilla made seconds earlier (eating tortillas in the US is going to be rough, even the supermarket sells delicious ones where you can actually taste the corn’s texture) as an antojito and then a mini bowl of hummus and israeli salad with a green juice. And gelato. Maybe I got carried away but it was worth it. Then we we went to la casa del agua which is so cool. It’s completely serene (with outlets and wifi) and you buy a reusable glass bottle of their house filtered water (there’s a three story system that captures the rainwater and adds minerals and good vibes—really, the filtration stones have positive phrases written on them—and the final product can be infused with herbs from the rooftop garden). It’s both ridiculous and fantastic and certainly not what I would have expected to find in Mexico city. We met Tomás on our way home and cooked dinner together before heading to the party. He makes amazing guacamole (the secret is adding a little bit of olive oil) and therefore I invite him to cook dinner at our house as often as possible.
Tomás and I went to a party for a friend of his who graduated from Brown and now lives here in Polanco. There were roughly 2 mexicans in attendance but we had a great time. Almost everyone was american though I met people from Brazil and Spain. I met two Penn grads, one of whom recited his cultural elite listing to me and one of whom lived in my house for next year and tons of Wharton MBAs. The snacks and mixers were from the Mexico city costco (a real thing that exists) and it felt very familiar. Most people were not much older than me and working in either consulting, banking or commercial real estate with a few more socially oriented jobs thrown in for good measure. Some had been there for three years and some had arrived only five days before. It was really interesting to hear why and how everyone arrived in Mexico City and so relaxing to be at a party where I understood the culture and didn’t have to do any weird dances. The same group is having a 4th of July party on Saturday which should be lots of fun. I’m planning on making this.
On Sunday, I woke up not long after falling asleep because MEXICO was playing in the World Cup! The game started at 11 and Ramsés and I went to his friends’ apartment only blocks from the Angel, the huge centennial statue that is routinely stormed in support of athletic victories. When we arrived (after the game had started oops) after a cab ride through an empty city, there were police everywhere, preparing for an onslaught. The local OXXO (the 711/wawa of mexico city) wasn’t selling beer and people were nowhere to be found. The game was really tense and watching the last ten minutes was terrible. Everyone was so disappointed and walking back outside the Angel, where a few dedicated fans still sang Cielito felt like walking through a deflated balloon. Mexico did surprise everyone by how well they played this year and I hope they do well in Russia (and bring Miguel Herrera, a national treasure). Ramsés and I stopped at home to get our stuff and then went to do work in a cafe where we inadvertently watched the Costa Rica-Greece game which was HIGH DRAMA. I’m so glad Costa Rica won!
This week is relatively quiet at work because I don’t have any events but it’s been nice, though very, very rainy (seriously this is the second coldest summer of my life after last year’s Argentine winter!) The rain here is not a mere drizzle but often a very loud thunderstorm that sometimes can delay lunch breaks and walks home with its magnitude. On monday, I went to a really cute bakery in Roma Norte and had a great vegetarian quiche with tomatoes and ricotta cheese. Tuesday was all about America as I took a long lunch break to watch the game. I was the only guest besides one belgian in a mexican restaurant with great tvs so that was a little awkward but wow TIm Howard, wow. Pretty impressive performance that bears well for the future of US soccer. Also on tuesday Tomás came over and we cooked a great dinner of guacamole, veggie tacos and ice cream with toppings (Ramsés chopped all the fruit, including strawberries which are apparently really dirty here and need to be disinfected.) We also watched Annie Hall which I had never seen and felt conflicted about watching because Woody Allen may be a child molester but I really enjoyed it. I don’t really want to watch any more Allen movies but I think that one is the best sample and Diane Keaton’s style rocked. Yesterday it didn’t rain for ALMOST the whole day (though it started right when I wanted to leave the office) so I had lunch outside at my favorite crepe stand which had a vegetarian quiche option for the first time. This weekend will be the 4th/5th of July party and who knows what on sunday. It’s my second to last weekend so that’s pretty scary to ponder.
This week, even though I’m not running around, is a huge one for Ashoka because it’s the panel where they choose the next group of fellows. The panel is comprised of representatives from the social entrepreneurship sector and staff from other Ashoka offices. Right now, the directors of Ashoka Egypt (a badass feminist who receives death threats for her work), Austria, and Haiti (the woman speaks seven languages and is originally from Romania) are in the house and it’s so cool to sort of watch the process, mainly by walking past closed conference rooms.
I feel strangely settled here and also feel productive but not too stressed (though the stress is mounting as I contemplate research in ecuador). Getting food before doing work doesn’t feel the same as waiting in line at Metro on the way to Van Pelt, I’ve mostly turned off the stopwatch in my head that forces me to get to the library by a certain time or constantly check my watch. I’d rather watch someone hand press my tortilla and walk through the neighborhood before buying fancy water and reading about indigenous movements. I’ll try to remember that in a few months.
Have a great weekend and happy 4th of July! Last year I celebrated in Philadelphia and the defining moment of that experience is explained here, if you want a little #tbt.