Los Estados Unidos Mejicanos

Hola a todos, de la Ciudad de México (CDMX).

It’s wrapping up Day #4 for me here, and what a time is has been already — and so much character development, too.

Whilst I’ve only had one full day of the course (today), the orientation day and welcome activities (a scavenger hunt around México City) have made me and the 8 other girls on my course fast friends. Because most of them (bar one) speak very little to no Spanish, I have acted as translator on many an outing — which is improving my language conversational skills, and my confidence.

Whilst the lovely girl staying with me in our host family’s home is one of those who speaks no Spanish, my “mum” Irma and I speak solely in Spanish (except past 10pm when my brain stops working).

So far the days have been full of contrasts: the lush green hedges and red brick of the IBERO campus with the dim grey shrouds by the Santa Fe roads; the peaceful pre-8am bus rides into the city with the push and shove of the afternoon rush hour metro; the gated community I am living in out of the city centre and the colourful, open houses that line the centre’s streets; the rush of Spanish and the broken English; the gorgeous southern Colonias of Roma, Coyoacán, and La Condensa and the ever-expanding grey of Santa Fe; and so much more.

It’s only been 4 days here, and I’ve already seen so much — including the one site I wanted to see the most: La Casa Azul, better known as El Museo de Frida Kahlo or the Frida Kahlo museum. Located in the most gorgeous, European-Mexican blend of a suburb, Coyoacán, Casa Azul was a dream come true. Before arriving at the vivid blue walls of the museum, however, my roommate and I stumbled across the local Sunday market. An overwhelming, exciting, and enriching experience, we saw local handmade wares, handcrafted lollies and marzipan, fresh meat shops (using every single part of the animal. Trust me. I had a vendor piece together the top and bottom half of a pig’s head — nose and teeth intact — to illustrate this.), and so many taquerias. We found a cute one called Carmelita, and ordered vegetarian tacos, huarachegordita, and a chile relleno — definitely the best food I’ve had so far.

We also decided to pop up El Monumento y El Museo de la Revolución, right up to the summit, to see a 360-degree view of the city. We reached the top as the sun was setting and the lights were turning on; and what a wonder it was to behold. La Ciudad de México is a sprawling, monster of a city: dangerous and enchanting, fascinating and curious, colourful and gloomy; and just so, so, so big.

I can’t wait to explore it more.