Like chewing gum left on the bedpost overnight, blogging just isn’t the same in the morning, especially if the night has lasted damn near ten years! I suppose this is also true about most things you get used to, which could be a good argument to avoid getting used to things that are actually important, like, say, your marriage. Although I cannot make much of a case that blogging is important in that way. But let’s blog again anyway. This one congealing a pot of thoughts on our time in Mexico City, and the leaving of same.
I have lived in Mexico City for the past 20 months, and am scheduled to leave (for Rome — yippee!) in less than four months. I was more or less happy to come here (after 3 ½ years in Buenos Aires) mainly for the food and the air travel proximity to places I go in the States from time to time. Proximity remains quite nice. Food? How could this happen? I am finished with Mexican food (although not quite yet the beer and tequila), and I hope to never see or have to eat another taco of any kind again. Ditto guacamole. I can’t even look at guacamole, much less eat it. Oh, and double ditto for Nopale cactus. The only way one should ingest a cactus is in liquid form (with or without a dead worm).
The air is filthy most of the time, and with lungs working overtime trying to get an oxygen dose at 8K+ feet altitude, being able to taste and feel the air going down the throat is not pleasant. That’s in DF, of course. It might not be so bad in small places or coastal places. But then, it is in Mexico City I live. Yes, long-timers are quick to point out how much better the air is than 10, or 15, or 20 years ago. But it is what it is, not what it was.
I am more often asked about crime. Crime is not much of a problem in Mexico City, at least not in the areas where I live or wander. Fact is, crime rates are far higher in a dozen major US cities than in Mexico City. I am not effected by crime here, so it is not something to like or dislike. You are safer in Mexico City, by far, than in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Pittsburgh, and way safer than in crime-ridden Washington, DC.
You know, but that’s about all I really don’t like about Mexico City. The list of what I do like (some of which I am certainly going to miss) is much longer.
Weather. Mexico City has the most consistently fine weather of any place I’ve ever lived, and I’ve lived in lots and lots of places. Including San Diego, which claims to have the best weather in the continental US. It gets pretty damn cold in San Diego in the winter. It does not ever get anywhere near what I call cold here. It does not snow, there is no ice. From time to time I have worn a leather jacket. It also does not get hot. A really hot day here, mid-summer, might climb to the mid-to-upper 80s. I have not experienced it ever hitting 90 here. Basically, it is more or less an eternal spring. Weather here means the times when it rains most evenings and the times when it doesn’t rain at all. I am really going to miss that.
One of the best bookstore/cafes I have ever seen is here, not too far from where I live. It is called El Péndulo, and is one of a small chain of three in the city. Because I do most of my writing in cafes, finding this one dramatically enhanced my work day. I do not think El Péndulo is replaceable and I am going to miss is mightily.
Having this cafe has made Mexico City good for my writing. I started a novel here — it is called “Erasing Rose” — which I hope to finish the first draft of before we leave in a few months, that portends to be pretty damn good. I am an environmentally-affected writer, and what surrounds me when I work can often determine whether I can work at all. I almost never work at home, regardless of how fine the office space, and the one I have here is pretty nice. I can do non-creative work at home, like editing or rearranging things, or playing with fonts, things like that, but I almost never create from fresh at home. Most of that work is, and always has been, done in cafes.
Well, that’s enough. It’s lunch time … oh, that reminds me of something else I don’t like about Mexico — lunch time. Most restaurants here either do not open until 1:30 (and will be empty for at least an hour after that), or if they are open, serve breakfast until 1:30 before switching to lunch. I wake up early, usually around six o’clock, and eat breakfast then. By noon, I’m hungry. Here I have almost no choice but to have a second breakfast or wait until after 1:30 to get lunch, by which time I feel at the door of death by starvation. The few places where I can get lunch — especially at the brand new deli (called Deli & Vine) just up the street, which has lunch from Noon on — are where I eat 90% of the time. Not to mention being able to get a Ruben or a Pastrami on Rye, or brisket, instead of another fucking fish taco.