So I love this place! Its like NYC but with friendly brown people and more surprises and amazing archaeology everywhere. When Morgan and I were walking to the Metro stop the other day we passed a small monument to the founding of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. We walked right by the place where the freakin eagle ate the freakin snake and the guy had the vision and the dirty homeless Mexica became the glorious Aztecs...Morgan said, and I quote, "and this is why Mexico is awesome."
I have no idea where to start, so here are just some random highlights of five nights in el DF. I love the Metro, as I said on FBK, its clean, cheap (20 cents per ride), timely (I never had to wait more than a minute for a train), well marked, there are ladies and children only cars at rush hour, there are friendly police everywhere and friendly Mexicans who give you the seat when it become available. I've taken the Metro down to the UNAM campus a couple of days, which is way down south at the end of a metro line, and its been a really fine experience. Plus there is the station with the Aztec temple...and the quadriplegics on skateboards selling gum...and the guys selling jello with the sing-song, "gelatina, se alegria" (jello, it makes you happy) slogan. All for a very low price. And I love our hotel room--I've stayed here
a few times, and most of you know I gave Morgan his choice of places, and he chose the cool hotel...where my parents stayed before I was born and a sneaky Aztec spirit attached itself to them to be reborn as me...well maybe. Its old and has no heat or a/c, but you dont really need either in DF, its always pleasant and about 75 degrees. We have a big window that opens onto the zocolo or main square of the city, a public space the size of at least 10 football fields or some other ginormous space...its one of the largest is latin america. And every day there is something new going on there--a rock climbing wall, or concerts, or a huge inflatable boy courtesy of Dannon...our room is noisy with the sounds of the traffic around the square and the Cathedral bells, but it has wireless internet and the never ending show of the Zocalo.
Okay I have to say something about the food, right now! Thank the gods I have a child who is also a foodie, and one of our main objectives has been to eat well. The night we arrived we went to Cafe Tacuba
which is kinda touristy but also awesome. It was full of families on a Sunday evening and Morgan had mole while I had chile rellenos. Yesterday we had a our big splurge meal, and I spent about $75. on lunch for us at El Cardenal
which is right around the corner from our hotel. Its in a beautiful colonial building with stained glass (featuring, wait for it--cardinals) and we took the elevator to the second floor. After ordering drinks the waiter brought us a molcajete filled with a quartered avocado, fresh farmers cheese and a cilantro/line/scallion sauce (with warm tortillas on the side) that was freakin amazing. I could have eaten just this for lunch. We ordered smoked trout tostadas as an app, they were intense and very filling, with a light layer of cream under the trout. Then Morgan has chilis en nogada, a seasonal dish served cold. Its a large poblano chili stuffed with ground beef and fruit (like peaches) covered in a walnut cream sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. I had salmon meatballs in a chipotle sauce, mostly cause it sounded so incredibly weird. But it was delicious! Very intense and filling. A small side of stewed black beans and of course warm tortillas finished up the table. We are ourselves silly. We have also had great food at our morning hotel breakfast buffet (Morgan applauds mole for breakfast) and I ate yummy tacos and beer at Salon Corona tonight. Last night we were up in the posh part of town and had amazing food at an old hacienda turned into massive restaurant--a bit too full of businessmen speaking English, but the snapper with tomatoes and cilantro I had was perfect. Morgan, again, had mole. LOL
We have also been blessed with many friends--last night dinner was with good friends from Miami who live here now, folks we met because they have kids the same age as Morgan and Cy. And due to the power of Facebook, Morgan is still in regular communication with Dominique, even tho she moved here 4 years ago. Her mom and dad both work in the music industry and they were transferred here so Robbie could be Vice President of Colombia recordings for Mexico...a job he lost in jan due to budget cuts. His partner worked for Sony and now manages the mega band of the moment Zoe.
Despite these uber cool jobs they are the most gentle down to earth folks, imagine the Irish Spring leprechaun if he grew up in Argentina and thats Robbie, Terri is a quiet long-suffering Mexican. Morgan spent the day with Domi today--their driver (not uncommon for wealthy Mexicans) picked him up at the hotel after I went to the conference then he and Domi sat in traffic for two hours to get to her fav sushi place on the north/posh side of town and later they hit a Starbucks and the movies. Teen life is remarkably globalized for the middle classes. We were also fortunate enough to have two friends give us a tour of the new exhibit on Moctezuma II at the Templo Mayor. Angel and Ximena both work there and have been excavating at the ruins of the main temple of the Aztec ceremonial precinct for the past many years and showed us the new treasures, like the coyote skeleton decorated with jade, gold, a spear point and olive shell beads or the 15 foot x 15 foot stone image of Tlatecutli, the earth goddess. She has curly red hair (like Ximena!), eagle claws and a human in her womb--absolutely fierce and outstanding. One of my students is here too, Julie, and she has been analyzing Aztec skeletons all week so its been lots of fun to catch up with her work and such. Plus all the other locals who recommended the restaurants and metro routes...definitely feeling lucky to know so many local huatches.
And finally, have I said how much I love my oldest son?!? He is an expert traveling companion--we both like to sleep in, compute, eat breakfast, walk a lot, take the Metro, eat great food, visit with friends over beers and mediocre hipster food, even take the bus to Puebla for a visit to the pyramids and a grasshopper with chili and lime snack. He is loving the contrast to the Mexico he knows so well, the pueblo Mexico of tricicletas and thatched roofs in Yucatan, and he is such a city boy that he doesn't mind the noise or the crowds or the traffic. Seems to thrive on it. Told me Cholula was beautiful but he could never go to college there (I have a friend at the UDLA) because it was just too small. They dont have a movie theatre, mom, he said. I love that he is speaking Spanish and taking it all in stride, growing up as a globalized piece of latin america, this isnt foreign to him but an extension of who he is. Maybe the Muslim world would be foreign, or Asia...but not this. All in all an excellent adventure. Plus going home will be so sweet and timely!!! Everyone should visit el DF!!