Whew! The first 48 hours in Mexico City were a whirlwind, but much easier than it could have been because my dad met us at the airport. He just “happened” to be visiting Mexico City at the same time to see the Día de Muertos celebrations, of course (the first this year, thanks to the 007 movie). When asked him about it, he also said “Ahh, I figured it would help make the start of your trip easier.” It totally did, for three reasons: he’s already fluent in Spanish, he’s been to Mexico City before, and he’s done a lot of traveling.
After leaving the airport, we stopped at for our first street tacos, where dad introduced us to the first awesome thing we’d never had: suadero. It’s a “sweated” meat that’s cooked at a low temperature at the edge of the grill while covered, setting it apart from the grilled al pastor or shredded carne. Topped with onions, cilantro, salsa, and lime, it’s freaking delicious.
We then traveled on to our hotel (Hotel Montreal) in Coyoacán to check in. By the way, this is what $23 a night gets you in Mexico City:
Dad took a nap while we sorted through the stuff we brought and decided we didn’t need about 3 pounds of it. Just FYI, if you’re planning a long-term trip this will probably also happen to you, so be prepared to throw some things away or send them back home by mail.
The next day, we had breakfast at Bella Rafaela Bakery (more on that in a later post), and then met my dad at Metro Pino Suárez. We wandered along Calle Regina in what’s known as the “Old City” and watched people preparing ofrendas (offerings) on shrines for Día de Muertos.
Then we headed up to El Ángel to see the Alebrijes, which are sculptures of bizarre and brightly-colored creatures that are a longtime part of local Mexican craft. While they come in all shapes and sizes, these ones were gigantic metal, wood, and paper beasts bankrolled by companies throughout the city and made by local artists. This one won first place:
For dinner, dad introduced us to the second awesome thing we’d never had: caldo de gallina, which is chicken soup made from young hens that has a richer flavor. It came with a chicken part of your choice (breast, thigh, leg), chickpeas, rice, and tortillas, and the table condiments included as much raw onion, salsa, and cumin as you wanted for seasoning.
We then rounded off the day by returning to Calle Regina, where Día de Muertos celebrations were in full swing. Amid the sea of marigolds and foods offered to the dead, I thought “Hey, it’s pretty good to be alive.”