Recently, our travels took us to Costa Rica but it just so happened that the celebration of Dia de Muertos coincided nicely a few days before we were due to arrive. Myself and H decided to spend 2 days in Mexico and see what we could accomplish. Sadly, jet lag stole quite a lot of that time from us as we are so used to going forward in time for our holidays.
Still, all was not lost. We did get some time to explore and experience some actual Mexican food.
We went out looking for breakfast, we aimed for a little place H had found on the internet that sold churros. I had the foresight to download the local area map from Google Maps, (but not a Spanish Google translate file) so navigating was pretty easy. As always, our first concern was how to safely cross the road. On quieter streets there are traffic lights and zebra crossings but no rhyme or reason to how they work or when it’s safe to cross. The busier junctions have familiar ‘little green men’ that appear to be running and some even utilise countdown timers. According to the way our taxi drove from the airport, think crazy taxi, red lights are only important if something is approaching from the other direction. Everyone drives like they are in GTA. No one indicates either, preferring a toot on the horn to let people know they’re there as the only interaction between drivers. Reminds me of Aisa but there are lots more cars than motorbikes here. Upon arriving, though the smell of the churros was sweet and filled the air, it suddenly seemed frightfully early to eat them. We made a mental note to return later and hit up a cafe nearby for some tasty blueberry pancakes. I was channelling Fabienne, from Pulp Fiction as I was in Mexico but can’t speak Spanish, or Bora Boran.
We walked to Plaza Garibaldi, more commonly referred to as Mariachi Square. Our plan was to see the famous Mariachi play a few songs for the crowds. The walk there took well over an hour from Condesa, we weren’t in a hurry and it was hot as hell. On the way we passed plenty of street food stalls and people selling novelties. H acquired a small Luchador mask to add to our collection of ‘tiny hats for our cat to be unimpressed by’. Along the route we also took in some more of the local culture. There are plenty of green spaces in Mexico City, most of them quite beautiful. We passed a number of statues and sculptures too. The City is clearly full of life everywhere you look especially as most places were decked out with paper chains, marigolds, calaveras and Catrina’s. As we approached the Plaza we started to see a few back streets that didn’t look to appealing. It was okay during the day but you got the feeling after dark could be very different story. We never felt in any danger, the horror stories people tried to warn me away from Mexico City with resounded in my head but none of them seemed to ring true.
Once at the square we found many Mariachi players standing around but no one was playing. We had time on our hands so we investigated the area to see what else was there. We found an elaborate Ofrenda in the entrance to a venue that would be hosting festivities later that night and admired the rows of Mariachi statues that were now pimped up again with paper chains and marigolds. Heading back into the main square one Marichi saw us for the blatant tourists we are and gave us his price for 1 song. 150 pesos or about £6. They were really good and played us a song which I have since incorporated into a video (see below)
We had lunch at a food hall off one side of the square. It was a collection of eateries all selling similar stuff with heavy usage of the word ‘authentic’. We ordered chicken tacos from a gentleman who came at us with such gusto that it was hard to say no. The tacos were amazing but nothing like the tex mex tacos we know back home. They are rolled for one, with a more spring roll look and use less ingredients.
It was still around 30 degrees so we didn’t fancy the walk back to the hotel. We agreed on a taxi and managed to give the guy vague instructions in English. He didn’t know the Hotel we were in but he headed for Condesa and we had to remember the way from our journey the evening before. He didn’t try to rip us off which was a welcome change for taxis abroad and added to the friendly nature that Mexico City continually presented to us.
Jet lag got the better of me at the hotel and I slept for several hours, waking up to discover it had rained and the air had that fresh feel and smell to it. We forced ourselves up and braved the dark to find food. We, unintentionally, have a history of eating foreign food in the wrong countries. For example we once ate Italian food in Japan and Japanese food in Vietnam. We quickly found a restaurant serving Japanese Ramen and figured we would carry on our trend, plus the seats were actually swings suspended from above. It spicier than usual but tasty none the less. We decided that we were too tired to attempt any festivities for the Day of the Dead, we had missed the newly created parade as it plays out when convenient rather than being done on the specific day so we figured most parties would be private family affairs as they remembered their ancestors. H hadn’t had a nap like me and she was fading fast so we returned to our Hotel and tried to sleep, after all Costa Rica was our main holiday on this trip and we wanted to be ready for that.