Laura and I are having a blast at our first day of work today, after a tiring whirlwind of re-routed flights, lost luggage, and unauthentic tacos that made our arrival in Mexico yesterday quite eventful. After we finally landed in D.F. last night, we were greeted by the beautiful smiling face of Brenda Obando, one of Laura’s best friends about whom I’ve heard so much and whom it was so awesome to finally meet.
Her family met us at the airport and escorted us to our apartment in Polanco, a gorgeous new residential complex nestled amidst several swanky malls and a welcoming supermarket. After meeting Adriana, the owner of our apartment, Superama was the first place we went, filling our new fridge with yogurt and mango juice and lots of guacamole.
Then, Adriana gave us a tour of the stunning facilities of our building -- gym, pool, hot tub, bike path -- before we took hot showers and settled in for the night.
Isabel introduced us to Ari and Ricardo, who are to be Laura’s and my respective supervisors at CMM, where Laura the engineer is working on the development of a Sustainability Index to be used for housing projects across the country while I am helping to review a Life Cycle Assessment of various commercial buildings in the city. Ricardo then introduced me to Angel, with whom I’ll be working closely on the project, and I dove right into the 151-page Spanish document I’ll be giving all my attention this month. The report is unique in that it looks at the emissions related to the entire "lifespan" of a building, from extraction and transport of materials to its actual construction and use, to demolition.
Laura and I are looking forward to celebrating Ari's recent Fulbright scholarship over a second lunch outing, finishing up our day at work, and then going over to Brenda's place for the evening before a weekend packed with Mexico City sightseeing!
Laura and I had lovely and LONG day today, starting last night with a sleepover with some of her best friends here in Mexico City, Brenda, Lorena, and Marianne. We enjoyed lots of yummy Mexican sweets and a movie which Laura and I slept through, and delicious pancakes with cajeta (like dulce de leche) this morning.
We returned to our apartment with plans to take the Turibus, Mexico City's double decker tour bus, around the city with Adriana.
After stops at Auditorio Nacional, Museo de Arte Moderno, and Monumento de la Independencia, we took a coffee break at Centro Comercial Reforma 222 for a cafecito con cajeta at Cielito Querido, Mexico's proud response to the popularity of Starbucks.
Recharged with caffeine, we caught the bus again to Zócalo, the heart of the historic center of the city. We knew we were approaching by the beautiful sunset-colored dome of the Museo de Bellas Artes.
We disembarked here and strolled around the square and down Madero Street before Adriana and I decided to climb the bell tower of the Catedral Metropolitana for a new view of the square.
We hopped back on the bus around 8:00 and headed back home, bidding the Ángel de la Independencia goodbye on our way to Polanco. I write this post as Laura giggles over the curious culinary creation she's preparing in the kitchen.
I'm doing my best to keep my spirits up after spending more than I would have liked on some questionable clothing from a nearby supermarket to replace my luggage which is most likely lost. :( Looks like dinner is ready! I'm looking forward to enjoying a rowdy Saturday night with my best girl.
We awoke today to freshly squeezed orange juice, and decided to take a girl power day trip to Teotihuacan, a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city, with our flat-mates Adriana and Erika.
We've come home absolutely wiped out by the awesome activities of our day, and are planning to call it a night soon...perhaps after a brief Panda Express run.
¡Viva la Mexico!
Laura and I sit listening to the sounds of the street at a Starbucks in “Polancito,” the posh office district near our apartment in Polanco. We’re waiting for our lovely colleague Isabel to join us before we all take a cab to work. My luggage finally came in last night, so I’m a happy camper in my favorite white lace shirt and turquoise Toms, and excited for my half day at the office today.
What followed was a conversation with several members of the table about loving one's work and figuring out ways to do what one wants in life, without fear of anything. If this is truly the philosophy of our colleagues at CMM, as it seems to be, then I can't think of a better group of people by whom to be surrounded.
Today could not have been a more tiring or beautiful gym-tan-laundry day.
Laura and I rolled out of bed late after a night of birthday festivities and got to work on some matters of housekeeping: laundry, groceries, and fruit-iodizing (produce has to be soaked in water with iodine here in Mexico to compensate for the less-than-ideal water quality). With our things in the dryer, Laura and I headed down to the gym, where we inched our way through the most tiring workout we've done since being here (the effects of last night were clearly tangible).
We met at around 3pm with Louise; our amazingly kind, accomplished, and well-traveled French colleague; at Balderas Metro Station, having kept her waiting for over half an hour. Her patience was not in vain though, as while awaiting for us she found the grand open air library Biblioteca de México where we wandered on the way to Mercado Artesenal de la Ciudadela, a large market where Mexican handicrafts are sold.
We all searched for gifts for our families as rain started to pour, soaking the outfits Laura and I had chosen for today in optimistic anticipation of sunshine, and leaving my summer sandals slimy and slippery for the rest of the day.
All I ended up buying from the display of curios was a fresh bag of scrumptious sunflower seeds covered in a mystery confection that I could smell from feet away and could not resist.
Adequately drenched, we trudged our way through the street (which was basically one big puddle) toward Zócalo, the city center which we explored with Adriana last Saturday, stopping en route to dry off and enjoy some flavorful tacos at a nearby mall and refreshing coffee at Cielito Querido.
We basically ambled around for the duration of the afternoon, talking about work and education and travel and love, and before we knew it, it was 8pm and our stomachs were grumpy! Laura and I elected to hail a cab rather than attempting to walk home, but not before Louise showed us one more special spot -- the Museo Franz Mayer, a museum displaying mainly "boring" furniture, but with a stunning and romantic exterior courtyard. We walked there a few minutes enjoying the onset of nighttime before flagging down a taxi.
Feeling like rags after an exhausting day, Laura and I slumped into Chedravi to buy the ingredients for tonight's dinner, a delightful butter chicken masterpiece which Laura cooked up as I washed the day away. We have now gorged ourselves on this brilliance, complete with rice and raita and a tiramisu dessert, and are utterly prepared for bed before another exciting day of exploring tomorrow.
We had another hectic and enjoyable fin de semana this week, spending Sunday hitting up not one but two huge tourist spots in D.F. You can trace our route on the map below from Polanco (A) down to Xochimilco (B) for the day before an evening in Coyoacan (C). We've been wanting to explore both of these places since we set foot in the city, so it was ultra exciting to do them both in one day!!
We made our way after a morning of smoothies and gymming first on the metro to Tasqueñas, a stop in the south of D.F., where our colleague Andy picked us up and drove us to our destination, collecting Rebeca on the way. Isabel and Jaume met us in the main square of Xochimilco, which Laura aptly describes as the Venice of Mexico.
We were met at the dock by a host of hyper-colorful traijineras, the flat boats which hold picnic tables for 14 to navigate the canals of Lake Xochimilco.
Floating along on these boats is such a spectacle!
Groups of friends sit snacking and drinking and soaking up the sun as smaller boats pass by selling food, souvenirs, and even plants!
If you want something, you just holler and the canoe will follow your trajinera preparing whatever you would like.
Many vendors and mariachi musicians also hop from boat to boat selling their wares and their serenades. What a sight!
Above, see a woman selling freshly roasted corn on the cob, and at right, see a full-fledged doll-and-shawl stand atop the water.
The gang stopped a boat preparing fresh tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas while I ate my turkey sandwich from home (trying not to take any more chances with my stomach) and pulled over for a bottle of coke at one point.
We sat lazing in the sun as I prepared many a charro negro for my comrades until our journey was through.
Isabel and I lay posing on the "prow" of the boat until we were joined by the other chicas.
Our afternoon was fun, relaxing, vibrant. Having disembarked, Laura and I bid Isa and Jaume hasta luego and hopped back in the car with Andy and Rebeca for our "express" evening tour of Coyoacan, an absolutely charming village home to the homes of Hernan Cortes and Frida Kahlo!
With Rebeca as our tour guide, Laura and I strolled all about the three main plazas -- Santa Catarina, La Conchita, and La Concepcion -- stopping to imbibe the colors and take pictures at every corner, I receiving another reminder about my love for the layout and architecture of many Latin American towns.
We also visited two small markets in the vicinity, and met our friends Louise and Alejandro for dinner at Los Danzantes, a nice traditional restaurant in the central plaza.
After a plate of mole verde for me and one taco al pastor for Laura, it started to drizzle just as we prepare to say goodbye to the beautifully pleasant place.
Louise and Alejandro drove us home to Polanco, we all exhausted, and Laura and I reminded again of how lucky we are to be fortunate to travel to such sights and see them with such people.