I have been meaning to tell you what it’s been like to move from Europe to the Americas this summer. I moved to Spain on my own (#throwback #2015), and had the most exhilarating two years of my life travelling around Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic. Madrid became a place I still think of as my home. Barcelona became my favorite weekend-getaway excuse. I acquired a particular taste for strong coffee in tiny cups, and a love for oversized scarves. Though I hate the notion that I left Europe because I fell in love with a European who had Latin American dreams (*cough* I am Venezuelan), the truth is that he is at the core of my move to Mexico City.
I spent July visiting my mom in the U.S. while I madly applied to teaching positions in a country I would have never imagined I’d live in. Because of our jobs’ different timings, I ended up moving to one of the largest cities in the world on my own. One of the most important financial centers in the Americas, Mexico City tightly packs in 9 million people (and they all seem to ride the same metro).
I proudly got a job on my own. I did a few Skype interviews, and filled up a boring amount of online applications. I used LinkedIn, Teachers Latin America*, and indeed.com.mx. I wrote e-mails and edited my resume more than necessary (I take that back. Always work on your resume more than seems necessary). I arrived with two small size suitcases and a hiking backpack. I was not wearing jewelry because I was scared of looking rich. I also made sure I didn’t look too happy, like a person on vacation. I took my AirBnB host’s advice and paid for an over priced airport taxi instead of hailing a cab in the street.
SIDENOTE: It is always safer to use “taxis de sitio” which means that the taxis belong to a specific site they leave from. In the 3 1/2 months I have been here, I can confidently recommend Radio Taxi (+52 1 56601122) and Taxi Plus ( 1 0560714). Mexico City’s phone code is +52.
WORK AND TRANSPORT
I currently teach English to 5 and 6 year olds in a kinder in Jardines del Pedregal – a very closed off neighborhood, home to VIP Mexicans. It has been a wonderful experience getting so close with my students in such a short amount of time. The commute has been…interesting. I work in a “guarded” area, and there is no public transport that reaches my kinder. So I have been leaning a lot on rides from co-workers – which has been more stressful than comforting for me.
Thankfully, my Argentinian co-worker has recently trained me on bus routes, so I now navigate my way back home on two peseros. Peseros are these green, small, old, poorly ventilated buses that cost 6 Mexican pesos and have no official routes or schedules. Good luck figuring out how to get to where you want by peseros alone! It is a trial and error. Though hot, smelly, and sticky, I am loving the freedom of getting around on my own!
One of the most painful parts of moving here alone has been feeling like one tiny person out of 9 million. Mexicans are some of the nicest people I have come across. Right off the bat, they are polite, courteous, smiley, friendly and talkative. But that does not mean you will come here and have deep, meaningful bonds with everyone from the start. Over the past two years, I developed solid friendships in Madrid, and I long for those connections in Mexico City daily. Not a day goes by where I don’t reminisce on my Rioja and tapas days with my chicas (check out The Foundation Beneath My Feet blog post for insight on these marvelous ladies). I know creating a circle of friends takes time. But knowing doesn’t make the waiting easier. Other than my boyfriend that arrived here a month after me, I am starting from scratch…again.
About a month ago we went to a birthday party of someone I did not know. We met Mexicans and expats around our age. It was not until that night, when I was crying from laughter at someone’s anecdote of how they once fell off the table while getting a massage (too much oil!) that I began to feel like maybe there is room for me in this city. Last weekend I had a wonderful girls date: a museum and Mexican hot chocolate. So step by step, the friendship void is filling up again.
There was an earthquake. Actually, there were 3 earthquakes in under 3 weeks. The buildings fell down. And people died. So half my time here has been dealing with that. The first one was an 8.1 earthquake on September 7th. I was already asleep, and the city alarm went off.
It is a loud sound and a voice that repeats, “Alerta Sísmica” for about 30 seconds before the earth moves. We went outside in our pajamas. I was scared, but I could not feel anything. In Mexico City, things went back to normal fairly quickly.
On September 19th, I felt it. My body was at the mercy of the up and down movement, and I thought something was going to crack or blow up. I went outside from the 3rd floor. Everyone I know was safe. We heard ambulance sirens non-stop for about three days. Another earthquake on the 23rd came, and I began to regularly wake up gasping in the middle of the night…”Está temblando?!” I’d ask. “Is it shaking?” – the Spanish expression to say there is an earthquake.
In Spain, I was already beginning to look more and more inward. I slowly (but surely) took up yoga as my new favorite form of draining stress. I began doing short meditations with gratitude mantras, and started to practice deep breathing seriously. But living in Mexico City has made all these practices a matter of mental survival. Anxiety has over powered me many times while riding taxis without a seatbelt – I’d feel safer skydiving. I’ve had to exit the metro before my stop (I mean exit out and up to the street) just to grab some fresh-polluted air before diving back in with the crowd…the 9 million people that decide to ride the same metro as me, huh. So it became mandatory to practice gratitude. I have had to consciously create positive thoughts about how the day went and how future days will go. I have had to feel the warm cup of coffee in my hands on the chilly Mexican mornings, take a good look at the blue sky (when it’s blue), and make it a point to eat Asian meals (my favorite cuisine) in hip places on the weekends. Food in this city will be a whole other blog post, but I am thrilled to say that aside from eating good Mexican food, Bradley and I have had some outstanding Korean and Japanese dinners.
Since I left Spain, I’ve had to really look and dig within me for the bright and the positive. I know that despite all hardships and struggles, this is the bigger reason why I am now living in Mexico. This 9 million people city will squeeze the good out of me. It will sharpen my optimism and empower me.
I am already amazed at what I have done and gone through in the last 3 months here. I moved to Mexico City to bring out the strong, bright, and powerful out of my being. I am happy for the adventure of living somewhere I never saw myself moving to, and for having the pleasure of doing this with someone I love so much.
So come along the adventure with me (or I should say US!)…and thank you for always supporting me as a writer, and for subscribing to letsgosomewhereblog. You are the most important part of all my posts.
Have you ever lived somewhere that tested you and pushed you to become a better version of you?
*If you want to try out teaching in Mexico, check out Teachers Latin America to get placed in a reputable school and area: http://teachers-latin-america.com