Jetlag, altitude, tiredness and beer are a dangerous combination: in my first hour of being out and about in Mexico City, I managed to trip over the uneven pavements twice, the second time sending me sprawling onto the pavement and leaving me with a painful two inch long scab down my forearm. Still, after being delayed by an hour on the way out and having my card blocked (for forgetting to tell the bank I was going abroad), the knowledge that I’d completed my run of three pieces of bad luck meant I could start my first full day without any worries.
Being met by two friends was a great way to ease me into the start of my trip, and the next morning we headed out to the Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s biggest park. Originally a forest on the edge of the city, I’d have to say it’s the nicest city park I’ve ever been to, full of trees, and with Chapultepec Castle sitting on a hill right in the middle.
The castle was formerly the home of Mexican presidents, before becoming a military academy and now a museum, and gives fantastic views right across the city, especially on a day with such clear blue skies.
After wandering round the park all morning, we headed into the districts of Condesa and Roma, two of the cities nicest areas, each with its own character – Condesa has lots of well-preserved art deco houses, whereas Roma is home to French-style villas, many of which have been left leaning at odd angles thanks to the 1985 earthquake. Both are full of nice cafes and restaurants, and the peaceful streets are totally at odds with many people’s image of the city as being dirty, manic and dangerous.
Today was my friends’ last day before heading back to the UK for a holiday (I’ll be seeing them again on their return to Mexico in three weeks’ time), so we headed down to the suburb of Coyoacan, which was formerly a separate villlage to the south of the city before being engulfed by the urban sprawl. The whole area has a similarly laid-back, sophisticated charm to Condesa, and is most famous for being the location of the former homes of two of the city’s most famous residents, Frida Kahlo & Leon Trotsky, and we visited both. Kahlo’s home, the Casa Azul (or blue house), is now a museum filled with her artworks and sculptures, and is really quite stunning. All the exterior walls and the walls round the garden are painted in a blue that looks glorious under the Mexican sun; it really must have been an amazing place to live. Trotsky’s is quite a contrast: much shabbier, with quite pokey rooms, with armoured doors and few exterior windows because of the risk of assassination. Even these weren’t enough to protect hm of course, and he was killed in his own study just three years after beginning his exile in the city.
It’s nearly a year since I first posted about by Mexican plans and after all that time it’s such a fantastic feeling to finally be here. It’s an amazing country, and the next six weeks are really something to look forward to. Now that my friends have gone back to London, I’m now on my own, and it feels like the travelling is properly starring now. Tomorrow I’m off to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan, before leaving the city behind on Friday, heading north to the colonial city of Queretaro.