The second half of month one in Mexico City went by way too quickly. I had been in a little bit of a funk ever since I got back from Cuba. I was in this state of mind that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do here, and I was busier than normal with work, so it was hard to be in the constant state of FOMO. Back home I am an extremely independent person so I am also still adjusting being “on” all the time and spending most of my free time surrounded by others and building new relationships. I am still going through periods of self-doubt paired intense moments of fearlessness, but have to keep reminding myself that is expected and the new normal. On top of that, the inauguration left me feeling pretty raw and broken. Even if the world back home is in disarray, I am going to make the most of my time on Remote Year.
These last two weeks have been all about food. One day for lunch, I had some of the best ramen from a vegan restaurant, Los Loosers, a lunch spot that I don’t know how I am going to live without for the rest of the year, and when I left the restaurant a beer garden nearby was blasting Michelle by the Beatles. It reminded me of home, and when my mom used to put on that record and dance around with me when I was little. I imagined some other little Mexican girl laughing and spinning around to the lyrics just as I used to do. It was easy to imagine because Americans and Mexicans are more alike than different as a culture – full of loving families, compassion, and purpose. I just wish the rest of America would understand that being of a different background is a beautiful thing and true innovation/creativity/growth only happens when diversity is embraced instead of repressed.
One of my lovely fellow remotes, Yosh, hosted a scent and ceremony dinner party in collaboration with Los Loosers. It featured a special pre-Columbian Oaxacan traditional 7-course meal paired with mezcal all based on the seven chakras. It was one of my favorite experiences in Mexico City. I sat and conversed with fellow remotes and locals that both shared a passion for feeding our souls. I have always thought that eating/food is so much more than just trying to survive – it is an intimate and personal relationship with your mind, body, and soul, and often times more satisfying when shared with others.
Of course, while I was in Mexico City I had to eat at Enrique Olvera’s Pujol. Pujol brings out all the wonderful flavors of Mexico in fresh and sophisticated ways. From the moment I was seated to the moment I left, I was impressed by everything the restaurant had to offer. The food and service were top-notch, and the wine pairing was truly a dream. It is everything I craved and more after diligently watching Chef’s Table.
I also ate at Quintonil, another one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. And although I thought the plating was beautiful and the dishes and flavors were creative, it wasn’t as special as Pujol. I also mistook ant larvae for baby beans because YOLO.
Overall, my favorite restaurants in my Condesa neighborhood were Azul, Lardo, and Ojo de Agua. I still can’t believe all the fine dining I had without ever breaking the bank. I would love to spend months in Mexico City eating everything it has to offer. There is a fierce amount of heart and soul in every dish that I tried. There is also a water bar, Casa del Agua, that can’t be missed if you love infused fancy water!
I went and explored the heart of Mexico City to see Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, Postal Palace, Torre Latinoamericana and Fine Arts Palace. One fun fact I didn’t know that Mexico City was built on top of a lake, and is literally sinking as we speak.
One part that I love about being on Remote Year is that we are placed in tracks in each city. The tracks are designed to give you a deeper experience based on your interests. This month, I was on what I’m calling the hippie track of Mexico City. On top of a vegan lunch and yoga class, I was part of a ritual given by Dr. Carlos Gomez, a current shaman of the Mexican Natural Medicine. I had a recent experience with a shaman when I was on a spiritual retreat in the desert last summer, but this was more special and intimate. The purpose of the ritual is to reset and gain a bigger understanding of what is happening around you, in both your spiritual and physical body. You call out to the four elements of air, fire, earth, and water; the trees, the rocks, the animals, the humans, the planet earth, the stars, the galaxy, the universe. I felt leaving cleansed and ready for some personal growth.
After the shaman ritual, I took part in a temescal ceremony. A temescal is a type of sweat lodge which originated with pre-Hispanic Indigenous people in Mesoamerica. In ancient Mesoamerica, it was used as part of a curative ceremony thought to purify the body. It was also used for healing the sick, improving health, and for women during childbirth. It continues to be used today in Indigenous cultures of Mexico. This ancient process cleanses the body, mind, and spirit. During the steam session, the power of the four cardinal points are called to open and purify the different parts of your character. The entire ceremony is accompanied by healing sounds such as drums and singing. The temescal helps maintain and restore our health and harmony on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, purifying the skin and increasing vitality. It was definitely a bonding experience for our track!
I had to soak in some architecture while I was in Mexico and visited the Luis Barragán House and Studio. Luis revolutionized modern architecture in the country with his use of bright colors reminiscent of the traditional architecture of Mexico. Seeing his work in person has been on my bucket list since studying architecture in college, so I was so blown away to be able to see his house in person. Plus, his use of Mexican pink and angles gave me all of the feels. Even architect Louis Kahn called him “completely remarkable” and praised the home that Barragán designed for himself in Mexico City as “not merely a house but House itself.”
The National Museum of Anthropology is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. I was impressed with the exhibits and think it was even one of the nicest museums I’ve ever visited. The architecture is impeccable and the gardens provided a peaceful escape from the city. It provided a lot of background to the history and prepped me for my visit to the pyramids.
With its origins still uncertain, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is a mysterious yet enticing attraction in the heart of Mexico, bringing historians and tourists alike to marvel at the obscure buildings, temples and pyramids, some of which date back to 200BC. Teotihuacan is often referred to as the City of the Gods as this was the name given by the Aztecs, as they considered it to be the place where the current world was created. However, the Aztecs are not considered to be the founders of this magical city, and its true origin still remains to be a mystery to archaeologists. The Avenue of the Dead is the name given to the road that leads down the center of the construction complex, as the mounds on either side give one the impression that they are tombs. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid in Teotihuacan, situated to the east of the Avenue of the Dead. Not only were the pyramids magnificently preserved, the whole area was a treasure.
One of my proudest moments this month was hiking Iztaccíhuatl (17,126 feet). We only made it up to 14,300 feet, but it was still the most challenging hike I’ve ever done. And while it does not demand much technical skill, its sheer altitude should be taken seriously. It was one of those group activities that I accidently signed up for not really realizing the complexity of the trek. It was obvious within the first ten minutes that my previous “hiking” in Griffith was really only a ploy to eat an avocado sandwich at Trails. Iztaccíhuatl means “White Woman” in Nahuatl, a reference not only to the way its peaks resemble a reclining woman’s curves, but also to the two glaciers and year-round snow near its summit. When we reached our summit at gate two, you could see the hustling Mexico City forty miles away, but there in the clouds it was quiet and worth the climb!