Be careful what you wish for.

After a lot of nagging on my part, my partner finally agreed that we should vacation in a country that doesn’t have elephants, demilitarized zones or soy sauce. I took the opportunity to insist that we visit a place that has kidnappers, drug violence and taco sauce. Mexico City.

You see, after nearly seven years in Asia, I was growing tired of visiting only Asian countries. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved exploring this part of the world. I list Hanoi, Macau and Kuala Lumpur among my favorite finds–love places with mixed cultures. But my partner’s rational that we visit as many places in the region while we’re still here broke down after he told me we’d likely be here two more years.

Me: Are you fucking kidding me? Two more fucking years of being away from my family and friends? Two more fucking years of not being able to run along the Hudson, brunch with my best friends, visit MOMA and up the number of Julianne Moore sightings?

OK, I didn’t say that. I wanted to, but didn’t say that. I’m a stand by your man kind of man. Instead I went for a run, asked my doctor for Xanax and scheduled a spa day at the Four Seasons. Hong Kong is a great place to live when you have a lot of time on your hands.

So I got my mind around it and said to my partner, “OK then, I want to go to Mexico City for my birthday. The world is a small place. You said so yourself. Besides, I’m freakin’ Mexican and you’ve never even been to Mexico or stepped foot in Latin America for that matter. What’s up with that!? I haven’t been there in nearly nine years and I want to show it to you. You’re gonna love it! Mexico City is awesome!”

“OK, let’s do it!” he said.

As soon as I hugged him, my heart sank. I thought, Fuuuuuuuuuccckkk. Now the pressure is really on to not only show him a good time but avoid getting us mugged, robbed, kidnapped or killed. It’s Mexico after all. I know my people. We’re all tequila and sunshine until we’re not. And then we’re all torture and attitude.

A lot of people think Mexico City is just some massive, polluted monstrosity where danger lurks on every corner of its smog-choked streets. And it is! Kidding. Mexico City (or DF as it’s most commonly known for Federal District) is one of the world’s most fascinating cities. It has colonial era churches, haciendas and public buildings, ancient pyramids, archeological excavations, Art deco and Art Nouveau treasures, the largest cathedral in the New World, Diego Rivera murals and one of the largest public squares on the planet. And that’s just in the historic downtown. My poor partner. That first day, he’s going to be doing a lot of walking.

My parents moved to Mexico City shortly after I went away to college. They were there just shy of four years and so I’d visit a lot during my breaks. I even lived there one summer. Back then, in the early 90’s, Mexico City was a lot more polluted and even more dangerous than today.

Now, much of the drug violence happening in the country occurs along the US/Mexico border. I grew up in Texas less than ten miles from said border. I remember when you could cross with family or friends for some dinner or dancing. No more. It’s too dangerous.

While northern Mexico has devolved into a hell on earth, Mexico City has evolved into a very cosmopolitan place. Award-winning restaurants experimenting with Pre-Columbian recipes, a boatload of new furniture design shops, and a number of boutique hotels have sprung up in the past decade. Even neighborhoods that were once no goes have become gentrified hotspots. The city is turning into a Wallpaper Magazine’s wet dream.

But you’d never know this if you watch the news. Nine severed heads found in a large duffle bag (I wonder which brand?), the mutilated corpse of a young woman found “posing” in the woods, Swine Flu. It’s no wonder most tourists stick to the Pacific and Caribbean beach resorts.

And so my partner’s mom is screaming that we’re crazy for wanting to holiday in a hellhole. My mom is starting to light candles and say prayers in advance. Even when I announced our vacation plans on facebook, friends didn’t comment “Have fun” or “I want to go with you!” but “Be careful!” and “Don’t go out at night.”

But we will go out at night. Every night. I’ve already made the dinner reservations. But just to be safe, we’re hiring a hotel car and driver each night. It is Mexico after all.

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