Eric and I had gone back and forth whether we wanted to brave the city. Having a car does indeed limit you sometimes and our choices were to park on the outskirts and bus in, or find secure parking in the city. Clearly we decided against the easier option and drove Pedro into the belly of the beast. The drive in was actually really pretty, a curving highway with trees along both sides as we drove into the valley.
I apologize in the advance for the length of this next part.
As we pulled off the highway and onto the city streets we heard the type of car noise where you look around and hope it’s not close to you. But it was as close as it could get. Eric then divulged that he had heard the noise earlier but that it had gotten much worse, very quickly. In the next 10 minutes of navigating merges of unmarked lanes and getting somewhat lost, the engine had moved on to making extreme grinding noises and, again, Eric sharing information later, explained it could have seized at any moment. Eric double parked the car in the Roma neighborhood and put the flashers on while I ran into a hostel. When I came back out the car was off, the hood was open, and there was radiator fluid all over the ground. The water pump was broken. As I tried to get back into the car, someone drove past and sprayed water completely over my backside from the rainy roads. It was like a scene out of a movie and definitely the nail in the coffin. I might have cried, just a little. But here’s where it gets great. The parking attendant at the restaurant across the way had witnessed this ordeal and came over to tell Eric his friend was a mechanic. Eric was obviously skeptical but we didn’t have options. He immediately took Eric down the block and the three men returned to discuss repairs. The mechanic (well less officially a mechanic, and more like a man with a lot of tools) explained that we could come back in one hour and park at his house for free and that his son would fix it early the next morning. The guy seemed to understand the issue, have the knowledge to find the new parts, and also be willing to help. Eric and I went to find a hotel and returned in an hour to find that the parking was on the street in front of his house not in the garage as we had assumed. At this point it was sketchy. Hand over the keys to a Mexican man that we could not recall the name of so that he could fix the car on the sidewalk in front of his house? OK, sure. As we had hoped the hospitality and helpful nature of Mexico prevailed, when Eric arrived to the car in the morning it was indeed still there without a (new) scratch on it. From 9:00 to 12:30 they worked on the car in the street and replaced the water pump. Pedro was purring on the way back to the hotel.
The rest of the afternoon Eric and I spent wandering around the historic center of Mexico City. We took the metro and went to the National Museum of Art. We explored the area near the National Palace and the Cathedral. We walked the equivalent of 16th street in Denver, only on steroids and quadruple the amount of people. Being in the city is hard when you have a specific travel budget but Eric is so awesome at spoiling me sometimes. The Roma neighborhood turned out to be a trendy area, with a hipster vibe, and he wisked me away for an official date night to an Italian restaurant. We were absolutely blown away by the authenticity of the Italian dinner and the ambiance of the place. It was a perfect night, where you don’t count the pesos on the menu and you enjoy the company of each other as husband and wife, rather than travel partners. Eric may have been a bit salty that I had more (well, most) of the wine.
The second day we spent around the Bosque de Chapultepec. The Museum of Modern Art is in the park and you can visit free of charge. We wandered around the markets and enjoyed the park. It was a Sunday and near our hotel was a flea market with vintage goods, a pop-up market of home goods, making me temporarily wish for a non-mobile home, and an amazing craft market. The market was filled with different types of jewelry, prints, fixed gear bikes and clothing as well as different foods and mezcals. It was the perfect find. That evening we stuck to our theme of non-Mexican foods and enjoyed gourmet burgers.
All in all, Mexico City was amazing. We can’t believe anyone would tell us to skip it or not bother making it there. The energy of a city recharges you in a different way than being solitary does, and at least for us, it encourages our creativity and curiosity. You do have to take the intense pollution, traffic and amount of people with a grain of salt. But the way in which we love New York, never to live but always to visit and enjoy; Mexico City has the same place in our hearts.