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Mexico City: Month Two

August 30th, 2008 · 1 Comment

We are having a great time here in Mexico City! Read below for an attempt to crystallize why. And, many of you have been asking for photos of our neighborhood and apartment, so check out the link attached!

Kimberly

For photos, click here.

From Mexico City — our neighborhood

Month two in Mexico City, and we still love it!

It’s quite surprising how easy it is to live here. I’m being quite serious when I say that our experience has been more positive here than in Paris. Shocking, I know! But we’ve decided it’s driven by a few things: cost, social network, convenience, and hospitality.

It goes without saying that Paris was ridiculously expensive, and Mexico City is quite affordable. Not to say that things are super cheap here (other than taxis, which are!) – but compared to Paris or San Francisco, it’s quite affordable. Going out to eat at the nicest restaurants in the city will cost $80-100 a couple – and I’m talking about top noch places (the former chef of Everest in Chicago opened a great place here called Pujol, which has to be half the price)!

When we lived in Paris, we didn’t have any friends. It was just the three of us (including Zookie, of course!), which was great, but did get lonely. It has been wonderful to have a social network here in Mexico City. Obviously I know a lot of people from Bain – and it certainly helps that there are three other American expats down here working on this project with me: Phil, Matthew, and Ravi. We go out to dinner at least two nights a week with my colleagues and spend time with them on weekends too. Phil and Matthew brought their families down here – even their kids! And Matthew and his wife, Erin, brought their dog, Gunther – so Zookie even has friends here! But, even outside Bain, we have other friends who live here or who we have been introduced to – Max (from Stanford GSB), Julia (a friend of the Schnitzer cousins), and others. While Dan and I love spending time together – we learned in Paris that we get lonely when we don’t have other friends around.

When we lived in Paris, we were really surprised by how difficult it was to get simple things done – stores closed on random days of the week, you had to go to all the specialty stores just to get household items (drugs sold only in pharmacies, birthday cards in papeleries, etc.), even getting our mail was a hassle! Well, in Mexico, we have been shocked by how easy everyday life is! Dan called the other day to ask if the pet store had a 5 pound bag of Zookie’s dog food in stock; they offered to deliver it and arrived in 15 minutes!! A friend of mine recommended a manicurist who will come to our apartment before or after I go to work and give me a mani/pedi – for only $25 USD!

Best of all, they have Costco! I LOVE Costco – and Costco here is just like Costco in the U.S., but better! They have all the same things: bagels, pita chips, chocolate chip cookies, cashmere sweaters) ….and more! Mini cinnamon donuts, arrachera, Chihuahua cheese – and the prepared food section is amazing: empanadas, paella, crepes con cajeta (caramel)… And the best part is that Costco is open every day until 9pm – even Sunday! (compare that to Paris, where everything is closed on Sunday…)

[Yes, I did just dedicate a whole paragraph to my love of Costco – my mom will be so proud!]

Lastly, Mexicans are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people we have met in all our travels. Typically, people are not especially friendly in large cities – so we didn’t expect much in Mexico City. We have been completely surprised! Whereas we never knew our neighbors before (in Chicago, San Francisco, or Paris) – here we talk with most of them. (This is partly due to an incident involving Dan getting locked out of the apartment with Zookie and our friend’s dog, Gunther running around the building…but that’s another story for another blog. ) When we lived in Paris, we always waited for people to ask where we were from, why we were there – but no one cared. Here, in Mexico, everyone is very curious about our story and eager to talk with us. And, surprisingly, I feel more linguistically comfortable here (even though my Spanish is limited to “Donde esta el bano?” or “Dos tacos, por favor.”) than I did in France (even though I’m close to fluent in French!) The Mexicans are so honored that a foreigner is trying to speak their language, they help you out. The French are so insulted that everyone is not completely fluent in their language, they are horrified at your mistakes!

I think that part of the hospitality culture is driven by Mexicans having a very different culture than Americans in the sense that leisure time is spent in public places. On weekends in the U.S. most people spend time at home or in their own backyards – with a closed group of family or friends. On weekends in Mexico, everyone goes out to the parks and squares and enjoys the days together. Vendors fill the parks and streets selling all kinds of tasty food: fresh fruit, boiled elote (corn), cotton candy, tacos, and more. In addition to the food are the ubiquitous balloon sellers, the stands where kids can rent toy cars and bikes, the clowns and performers…even people dressed in costumes as cartoon characters! After living here for a while, we realized that Mexicans have just decided to take the theme park environment and make it completely accessible to the public. Everything we’d see on the weekends would be completely normal in the U.S. – but only inside Disneyland, Sea World, or Six Flags. Here, in Mexico, they have just kept the party atmosphere everywhere!

Tags: America · Mexico · North America

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Pippa Dinger // Dec 15, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Kimberly, you have such a personal and warm style of writing that I find myself wanting to read more! I would love a story with every picture; you have an easy and familar way with words. I love it! Great comparison, too, between Paris & Mexico City.

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