Our two years in Mexico City came to an end a few days ago; we are for the month in Boulder, Colorado, then on to Washington, DC, for two months, and to Rome by the end of October. Maybe it is too soon for a distanced and dispassionate look back over the two years, but here are a few preliminary thoughts.
First, this construction fiasco (photo below) made it so much easier to leave; in fact, desperate to leave. When we moved into our Polanco flat, there was an abandoned two-story office building (that may have begun its life as a house) directly behind us, sandwiched between two high-rise condo buildings, low enough so from our 4th floor balcony we had a decent view of trees demarcating the eastern edge of Chapultapec Park. A month or so ago, a crew of guys wielding mostly hammers and picks began knocking it down. Then, a few weeks ago, a gaggle of big construction machinery arrived and began this:
The last two weeks we lived with constant construction noise, from early morning to sunset, that will last for more than a year, according to the sign on the construction fence. We escaped just in time.
This is what I am sure to miss:
The weather. Even though we left in the rainy season (and it has been an unusually rainy one), generally Mexico City has the best weather of anyplace we have ever lived, or visited. Pretty much eternal spring.
The frank friendliness of Mexicans, even to strangers. (Unless they are in car, when friendliness abruptly transforms into vicious madness). They are quick to smile, to offer a helping hand or advice, and go out of their way to help a stranger on the street.
I will miss the feeling of security. Yes! I never felt even a shred of threat in Mexico City, never had one encounter with crime, and never felt unsafe. Unlike Manhattan, or Los Angeles, or DC, for example, which seem to me to be virtually crime-ridden.
Having seen photos of our Rome apartment, I am certainly going to miss the clean, large, well-lighted place where we lived in Polanco. This is the dining room from the living room:
And this lavish, large office:
We are definitely going to miss our housekeeper, Tere, who came in and took over, in the most wonderful way. She also happened to be the best cook in Mexico, unarguably. She is a once in a lifetime person, and we will never again see her like.
All the trees and flowers and parks, not only in our colonia, but throughout the city.
Inexpensive and ubiquitous taxis, making it easy to get anywhere in the (massive) city without needing a car. (Only a masochistic idiot would drive a car in Mexico City.)
This is what I will not miss:
Food. I know it’s a surprise, but I found out that I don’t like much of the Mexican cuisine. To my taste, there is a certain underlying sameness, a similar flavor, in much of the food, no matter what. An underlying current of corn flavor, mainly. Although Poblano chiles dominate many flavors. I will probably never eat another taco again, ditto guacamole.
Bacteria-laden water. Not only can you not drink the water, but you cannot wash fruit and vegetables in it (unless you add a Clorox like solution to the water), cannot brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with it, and have to be careful not to open your mouth in the shower. (If Mexico City had clean, drinkable, useable water, the country would own the hemisphere.)
Traffic and the insanity of Mexicans in cars. (Maybe Rome traffic will necessitate a revision.)
A never-ending, no matter where you are, crush of people.
The nonsensical continual stream of protests, most of which are indeed for nonsensical reasons, that block major avenues for hours, and sometimes close access to the international airport. They are weekly occurrences. And they don’t make a bit of difference — except to the people simply trying to get from A to B on a bus or in a car.
The dubious skills of medical practitioners and the sometimes primitive hospital facilities.
So there it is —
Two years, it’s over, and I can’t imagine a circumstance that would bring me back to Mexico (or anywhere else in Latin America) again. It was better than I thought it would be, but I find very little to miss about it.