They say you never forget your first love—mine was Mexico City at age 14. Mexico was where I first learned to love other than myself. Mexico was where I first cried real tears that actually meant something vs. crying over getting second place at a piano competition. Mexico was where I first understood what it truly meant to be part of a family.
That first trip to Mexico City, I became best friends with my host sister A. One of my favorite things in life is finding out how much you have in common with a childhood friend. All too often childhood friends end up growing apart… you don’t have that much in common anymore other than the fact you were best friends when you were still wearing training bras. A and I somehow over the years ended up becoming the same person, even though we live in different countries and I hadn’t seen her in 6 years. We both have the exact same job; we both hate doing stuff during the day and are resentful toward people who actually make us do stuff during the day; we both hate marriage; we both despise kids; we love to judge people; and the list goes on and on.
When I told my friends where I was going for Christmas/New Year’s this year, every one of them called me crazy, citing the fact that Mexico City was the “new Colombia.” But I couldn’t have been more excited. It had been 6 years since I had been back to Mexico City, after having gone every year consecutively for 10 straight years.
My Christmas/New Year’s in Mexico was one of the best trips I’ve taken in a really long time. Here’s a high-level overview of my trip:
- I arrived to Mexico City with a physical list of a dozen items that I had been missing terribly and had been having dreams about for the past 6 years—and successfully got to every single one of those items in 11 days
- I ate so much all week that I was literally excreting 1/10 of my body weight
- I learned that in Mexico, Jesus’s birthday is a holiday that you spend partying with your family until 4am
- I spent the second weekend there wearing the same clothes for three straight days (scroll down below for details)
Here’s a more detailed breakdown:
DAY 1 (12/21):
Arrived, had a dinner with A’s friends from college; discovered a delightful new gem since the last time I had been to Mexico: cans of beer with clamato and lime, which became my new favorite drink.
DAY 2 (12/22):
Had an amazing reunion brunch buffet with A’s dad and sister, whom I love. I had remembered this restaurant from the last time I had been here—A’s dad had taken me here years ago when I was super hungover, had thrown up on the street before getting to the restaurant, and couldn’t stomach any of the all-you-can-eat. It was severely disappointing and embarrassing. But luckily I made up for it this time around:
Sopes and quesadillas
After this buffet, we were obviously still hungry for more, so we had tacos for dinner—my favorites, tacos de pastor and bistec con aguacate:
Tacos de pastor y bistec con aguacate
DAY 3 (12/23):
One of the best things about Mexico is they start out their days with the heaviest breakfasts. I love it. Fuck milk and cereal. I had enfrijoladas for breakfast, homemade by A’s boyfriend’s mom, then went to Coyoacan for my favorite tostadas de jaiba, tinga and salpicon for lunch in the market.
Tostadas de Coyoacan
DAY 4 (12/24):
Had enchiladas de mole for breakfast before heading out to A’s aunt’s house for Christmas Eve dinner.
Enchiladas de mole
Christmas Eve dinner was out of control. I ate twice as much as I usually eat over Thanksgiving. In an attempt to contribute something to this incredible meal, I tried to make some mulled wine as my “gringo” contribution since apparently no one there had ever heard of “hot wine.” However, my concoction apparently failed since no one took more than two sips and politely refused a second glass. It really validated my complete lack of skills in the kitchen.
Green pepper soup
Chicharron con salsa verde
Truffle cheesecake from my fav bakery Garabatos
After stuffing my face, I learned that in Mexico, the birth of Jesus Cristo is time for real celebration, and by that they mean literally everyone stays out drinking and partying with their family until dawn. American Christmas Eve = eating a nice dinner with the fam, then going to bed at 10pm so that you can get up at 6am to open presents. Mexican Christmas Eve = eating a nice dinner with the fam, then dancing and drinking until 4am when all aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins are wasted off their asses. It’s amazing, and so much fun. It was the best Christmas I had had in a very long time.
DAY 5 (12/25):
Mexican tradition for Christmas Day is to go back to the Christmas Eve host’s house to eat leftovers. It was essentially a repeat of Christmas Eve—stuffing our faces, then drinking, dancing and playing games until well past normal bedtime.
DAY 6 (12/26):
By post-Christmas, my body had been processing so much food on a daily basis that I couldn’t even believe myself. The amount of food I was ingesting every day was out of control—and I swear on the other end they were weighing in at 14 courics a day.
Before day 6, I had literally experienced zero issues. My stomach was seriously made of steel—that is, until we went to La Casa de las Enchiladas, where I had the most amazing enchiladas: one of chicken with salsa verde, one of beef with mole, and one of pork with peanut sauce. They were amazing until 30 minutes later, I honestly thought I was going to have a Maya Rudolph moment from Bridesmaids.
La Casa de las Enchiladas
Luckily my stomach bounced right back into shape the next day.
DAY 7 (12/27):
Had breakfast with A and her dad at one of my fav restaurants, El Charco de las Ranas, where I had tacos and pozole for breakfast:
Grabbed a crepa de cajeta for a mid-afternoon snack, and I was already well into crossing off more than half the items on my “Mexico must-eat” list.
Crepa de cajeta
For dinner we went to our other friends A+R’s taqueria called Bigos, where they have the best tacos al pastor in the city:
Tacos al pastor
After dinner, we went out in Polanco to a bar called La Chilanguita that was playing some of the best Mexican hits from the 1990s. We drank micheladas and cubanas until the wee hours, and I tried my first perla negra, or the Mexican version of jager bombs—instead of Red Bull, they use another blue energy drink that’s 10 times tastier than Red Bull.
DAY 8 (12/28):
Friday was pretty tame compared to the rest of my weekend to follow—started off with lunch at a Oaxacan restaurant, then went to our other friend AP’s place for a dinner party.
I was actually staying with AP for the rest of my trip, since A and her boyfriend M were going to Denver (but I only ended up staying with AP for one night, for reasons explained below). Having had to say goodbye to my best friend A, while everyone else was still enjoying the dinner party, I locked myself in AP’s room sobbing hysterically, which is very uncharacteristic of me and only happens on very rare occasions… like when M/L moved out of our apartment, and every time I leave Mexico City.
DAY 9 (12/29):
Saturday was the beginning of my shitshow weekend, after starting it out with a very tame lunch of tacos and huarache with AP, puffy eyes and all.
Saturday was an exciting night for me since I was going to meet up with my guy friends whom I hadn’t seen in 6 years—including C, who was my first real fling from when I was 14. I wasn’t banging anyone at that age (shocking), so all C and I had ever done in our youthful past was innocently go to second base. 15 years later I was obviously incredibly curious as to what I had been missing. I had known C for 15 years… but did I really know him? It was time for me to get a proper introduction.
I met my guy friends at Sud 777, and they all looked exactly the same from when I had last seen them, which was really comforting and brought back all the good memories from way back when. After catching up for hours over two bottles of whiskey, we headed out to a club at 4am, drank some more whiskey and some perla negra shots, and before we knew it, it was 7am and we were getting kicked out of the club. Somehow naturally—it wasn’t even a question—I headed back to C’s place where we finally quenched our thirst.
DAY 10 (12/30):
The next morning, I woke up and discovered the oddest bruise/bite mark on my arm. I hate when that happens… I need to stop blacking out. Obviously I immediately thought it was C, but his mouth didn’t match the bite mark; curiously, however, it did perfectly match mine…
Neither of us were really sure what had happened the night before, but we knew we needed some food, so we headed out to grab some birria with P and J.
Assuming we were just grabbing breakfast and then I would head back to AP’s place, I hadn’t showered that morning and just went out with the boys in my walk of shame outfit.
I was wrong. We ended up spending literally the entire day at the birrias place, eating and day drinking and singing along to a mariachi band while watching some football. While not showering for a day doesn’t seem to phase some people, it started to gross me out, so after the birrias place, we quickly went back to C’s place to shower, then went straight to another bar afterwards. I was of course still wearing my same clothes from 30 hours ago, but I had thrown out my thong after the shower and was going commando. There are some cleanliness boundaries I don’t cross.
We ended up staying at Niza pretty late, and by the end of the night, C was completely wasted and out of nowhere threw his drink in J’s face. That was our cue to go, so I went back with C to his place where I tried to calm him down.
DAY 11 (12/31):
Woke up next to C and immediately hurled bile a few times in his bathroom, which was the first time I had done that in someone else’s bathroom in a really long time. Luckily I’m a very elegant puker in that I never make a splash and it’s always pure liquid.
After wanting to die, the next thought that ran through my head was: this will now be the third day in a row that I have to put on this same fucking outfit. I needed to get back to AP’s place to be able to wear something other than these stupid leggings, but of course I went to breakfast with C instead—and ended up wearing that same outfit until dinner time.
I finally left C with the thought I might not see him again for years… and quickly changed gears to get ready for New Year’s Eve with AP’s family. NYE, I found, is quite the family holiday in Mexico. Basically everyone has dinner and hangs out with their family until 3am, and then they meet up with their friends to go out. Intense.
It unfortunately didn’t matter for me since I had a 6am flight back to NYC, which meant I had to be at the airport by around 3am. I had an incredible NYE dinner with AP’s family, ate 12 grapes as is tradition—one for each month of the new year—and then very sadly headed to the airport with an amazing 11 days behind me.
Two miserable, hungover plane rides on New Year’s Day, and I was back home in NYC. I spent the next week depressed about no longer being in Mexico, and my body wasn’t very happy about it either. In the 1.5 weeks that I had been in Mexico City, my stomach had never felt better (with the exception of the enchiladas incident)—and yet the minute I came back to NYC and ordered my usual Chinese food, I swear my ass was on fire for like days straight. In the 1.5 weeks that I was hanging out with A and living under her roof, I never got sick even though she had a really bad cold the entire time I was staying with her—and then of course the minute I come back to NYC, I become deathly ill two days later and have to take my first sick day from work in years.
It was as if my body was punishing me for leaving Mexico. Nothing could go wrong with my body while I was in Mexico—I was seriously invincible. I don’t normally believe in fate, but I think my immune/GI systems were telling me Mexico City and I were destined to be together.
I never forgot my first love.