Experience CDMX: Part 1

A few months ago, I wrote about taking a sibling trip to Mexico City for Labor Day Weekend. Unfortunately, only 2/3 siblings made it due to passport issues, but nonetheless, it was still an amazing experience for me and now I can’t wait to share it with you in this 3-part blog series. These three blogs will cover the city itself & landmarks we visited, fitness & health, and overall personal reflection.

My very first impression of the most populous city in North America!

When we were approaching the Mexico City Airport, my whole being was overwhelmed. I looked out my window and saw a city so large, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Mexico City, for those of you who don’t know, is the most populous city in North America. Looking out, it seemed that the city stretched for as far as the eye could see in all directions. It never seemed to stop. It was incredible for me, coming from such a little town and being submerged into this humongous metropolitan area.

After landing, we walked through the airport toward the exit & upon stepping out into the street, I was blown away. The weather was beautiful. Well beautiful for me anyway. After leaving a very sunny, nearly 110°F Reynosa, it was refreshing (literally) to walk out into a cool, 72°F Mexico City climate. We took an Uber from the airport to our apartment and I can honestly say that the traffic was perhaps the most congested I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s completely mind-boggling to me how people can actually drive in Mexico City! And no matter the time of day, the traffic never seemed to slow down or stop. I will say though, nearly every Uber experience I had in Mexico City was extremely positive, with the exception of one guy who couldn’t maneuver traffic quite as well as out other drivers.

Museo Soumaya

Nevertheless, after we settled into our apartment for the trip, we went and had a quick dinner, then we went to Museo Soumaya, or the Soumaya Museum, an art and cultural center located in Nuevo Polanco, Mexico City. Its unique architecture was my favorite, though I didn’t quite get a chance to fully experience the museum itself due to it closing 30 minutes after we got there. It is very large though, and has over 33,000 individual art pieces within its walls that are thought to be from over 30 centuries. It is somewhere I’d like to visit again with more time!

After the Soumaya, we got caught in what I can only describe as a strange rainstorm. This rain came down hard, and the drops were HUGE! We immediately called an Uber and headed back to our apartment. Needless to say, day one was not quite as adventurous as I would have expected, but we did end up at this little corner store late that night & we bought some munchies. After a 3-month weight loss challenge, it was really great to indulge is a little junk!

My junk foods of choice!

Day 2 was the most tiring of all the days. It was my first full day in Mexico City & was by far the most active day. We were all over the place! Day 2 was also my first day experiencing public transportation in a new country. While we had used Uber the first evening, we decided to take the subway from our neighborhood to the Bellas Artes cultural center. So after all the ups and downs and walking around the subway station, we finally got onto a very crowded subway. My self-diagnosed claustrophobia immediately set in. I was uncomfortable and hot, and what took like 40 minutes felt like a freaking lifetime for me. There was arguing and fights, a delay because the police had to come apprehend people. But then we finally got to our stop. AND WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT! WE MISSED THE STOP. Well, we didn’t miss it, per se. But the subway was so crowded that the door closed as we were about to get off. Luckily, the following stop was at the Alemeda Park, which we were planning to see anyway. And so after more up and down stairs and walking for what felt like a mile through the subway tunnel, we made it up to the street at Alemeda Park. And man, was it a beautiful sight to see! The trees were tall, there was fountains, kids playing all around, a man playing a muted trumpet, and even lady making balloon animals! There were so many squirrels and mice all around, I’d never seen anything like it. Yeah, poor little small town me doesn’t know real parks. I know, tragic!

Walking through Alemeda Central Park

Bellas Artes cultural center

After walking through the long stretch of Alemeda Park, we arrived at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, another cultural center in Mexico City’s historic center. We didn’t get a chance to go in, but there was tons of hustle and bustle throughout the area, and it spilled right into the Avenida Cinco de Mayo, which was a very busy shopping district. Once we got through all the shops and restaurants, we made it to the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, or Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielo. This cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico located in downtown Mexico City. It was, by far, the most beautiful religious location I have ever visited in my short life. To be able to just walk in silence, in prayer, and to just soak in the history and beauty of it all was an experience I’ll never be able to forget. Just next door, there was a wedding about to start & it just made my heart soar seeing that beautiful bride walking down the aisle to the rest of her life. My heart was so warm from the entire experience at the cathedral.

Outside the Cathedral…

…and inside the Cathedral. Truly awe-stricken.

After experiencing the beauty of the cultural center, it was time to go home. Well dinner first, then home.

Side note: I didn’t cover any specific food on this trip for the sheer reason that we mostly cooked at our apartment & when we didn’t, we didn’t particularly partake in Mexican cuisine. Sorry foodies! For more on specifics, you can check out my Facebook page for this blog here!

Angel of Independence

Well, before we headed home, we were once again faced with a little rain, but we didn’t let that storm on the opportunity to see the Angel of Independence in downtown Mexico City. Here, I got to sit in a short rain shower & see a quinceanera photo shoot, and many loving couples taking evening strolls. Here is where I really began to miss home. But, I knew I’d be home in no time. So I shook it off, and we began our trek home. That night, I remember being in bed super early. I’d taken a hot shower and hit the hay, only to be awoken a few hours later by a party nearby, with some drunken karaoke stars. I’ll admit, they were actually pretty good, but I knew I had a long day ahead and had to pretty much force myself back to sleep.

From the base of the Pyramid of the Sun

Sunday morning, I woke up early & eager. Sunday was the day we decided to take the long trip out to Teotihuacan to attempt to climb the Pyramid of the Sun. I’ll admit, I was actually pretty intimidated, but I had to put on that brave face & a smile! I was about to push myself to the limit like never before. After several bus stops & about an hour later, we made it to the gate of Teotihuacan. We paid our entrance fees, bought shady hats, and began our walk toward the Pyramid of the Sun. What we hadn’t realized was that the steps were much, MUCH more steep than we first thought. Upon reaching the first resting area, about 1/4 way up, I began to doubt my ability to climb this pyramid. Hell, I’m over 300 pounds, I don’t see this much cardio in a good week, and now I was gonna attempt to push my body up this 32 degree slope?! Was I crazy?! Spoiler alert: I was indeed, crazy. At the next resting area at the halfway point, I took a lot of photos because I was certain I wouldn’t make it to the top. I took a long rest here to drink water, then remembered I shouldn’t overdo it, since that might make me sick. So I stood back up, looked at the summit, and just kept going.

Halfway up the Pyramid of the Sun

At three-quarters of the way, I felt like crying. I was so overwhelmed by my body’s cries to stop. Mentally, I was overwhelmed, so again, I took a break. I watched tens of people walk past, hit the top, and celebrate. I needed to do it, too. More than a physical accomplishment, I think I subconsciously just needed to have this victory under my belt. I wanted to be able to say, “I did that!” And so, I braced myself, I hyped myself up, and I started to go up the last stretch of steps. And I went slow. But I went. And then, I heard little cheers of joy as the people ahead of me were hitting the top. And soon after, I felt a smile stretch across my face as I too hit that final step up. I freaking did it. I climbed the third tallest pyramid in the freaking world. And I didn’t pass out, get sick or die. My mind was immediately at ease. And after a brief pause to catch my breath and get a drink of water, I said, “Well I definitely need a picture!”

From atop the Pyramid of the Sun, looking out toward the Pyramid of the Moon

After taking several pictures and really soaking in the view, it was time to hear back down to catch a bus back to Mexico City. That path down was a piece of cake for me, but I’m guessing it was all the adrenaline. Looking back on it now, I don’t think I could have ever done that without the help of that adrenaline coursing through my veins. I ate a mango before we boarded the bus & I remember thinking it was the best fruit I’d ever tasted. Heat exhaustion was probably setting in because I remember getting on the bus, hearing a man play beautiful guitar, then waking up at the bus station. The rest of that journey home was a blur.

When I awoke, it was much later. Like 4 hours later. The weather was dreary again, but we wanted to make the last of what should have been our last full day great. So we headed to Santa Fe to check out the beautiful La Mexicana Park.

Parque La Mexicana

As you can see on the above photo, the park stretches quite a ways. It was a pretty long, cool walk in the park, until the rain decided to come pouring down. Luckily, we were able to see the majority of the park, which had a plaza where they will soon add restaurants and shops, a Petsmart, a Starbucks, and even a small amphitheater on a lake for little outdoor shows. One of my favorites was the fountain in the lake, which spouted up pretty high. Plus, the water was extra blue & added a beautiful hue to an already beautiful park.

The fountain at La Mexicana Park

As I took that picture, the rain began to come down a little harder, so walked around until we found a Starbucks to take cover in. There, I began to feel sick, to which I now believe was dehydration setting in. But after a drink and about an hour of relaxation, I felt better. So we boarded a bus to get us closer to home, then an Uber took us the rest of the way.

Let me use this time to say that while public transportation may be a bit cheaper, Uber is definitely the safer and faster alternative! If you sign up for Uber with my code: jenniferg11879ue, you can get your first ride free! (Note: this is an affiliate link, and I may also get compensation)

My first attempt at getting out of Mexico City!

Monday afternoon, we spent most of our time at the airport. We were prepared to take off, we ate and then, after a flight delay, we finally went to check in. We got pushed aside and told to wait on someone to check our tickets, since the flight time had changed, they made us find a rep from our airline to explain the mixup, with barely enough time to spare for us to run to our gate. After some very rude employee experiences, we’d given up hope. We searched around once more, praying we’d make it through, and then we were finally told there was nothing we could do, and we were basically out of luck. I cried almost immediately. I was mostly panicking about work, and looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so worried about it. But the impending stress of work and home life was quickly setting in, and the stress of a missed flight made it so much worse. And then, to add insult to injury, we found out that there were no flights until Wednesday afternoon, two whole days later. After informing my boss and family back home, we reluctantly purchased new tickets home. I spent the last of my cash which I was sure I’d have left over & booked a new apartment nearby. We went out that night, pooled money to buy groceries and water, and immediately, I just wanted to sleep. I was angry and stressed, but I washed my clothes and ate a little dinner, then went to bed.

The next day, I was very wary of getting out of bed. I forced myself up early, checking in on coworkers who I’d left burdened with a heavy caseload. Immediately, my heart was heavy and I really couldn’t fathom doing much else on this trip. But luckily, my brother convinced me to get up and go out to the Chapultepec Castle. Another Uber ride got us to the historic Chapultepec, only for me to realize how much of a steep walk I had to make to get to the actual castle. After a couple stops during the walk, making it to this castle was another striking experience. I’ve said it many times, but y’all the architecture and precision of these historic landmarks really amazed me!

Entering the Chapultepec Castle

The interior of the castle is gorgeous. This castle also houses the National Museum of History, so there were many historical exhibits to see. There was even a special exhibit on artist Ramon Alcazar Castaneda, who was a politician and businessman who, over nearly four decades in the late 1800’s, collected tens of thousands of pieces of jewelry, porcelains, weapons and art, just to name a few. This collection is very interesting and unique. It was a very interesting exhibit, as it showcased all sorts of relics from different eras and different areas of the world. I’m actually very grateful I took the long winding path up to the castle, because, like many of the other places I’d visited on this trip, it did not disappoint me and once again, left me in awe.

The stairs heading into Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec was the last thing we did before heading home. I spent a lot of time checking and re-checking our flight for the next day and packing my bag. I was eager to get home, but also starting to feel a little gloomy about leaving. Regardless, I knew I had overstayed my welcome & that soon, I’d be home where I needed to be.

Wednesday morning, we went out for breakfast, then headed over to the airport. I’ll admit, I once again cried here. This time, it was setting in that I was leaving for real, and was leaving a new friend behind who I desperately wish I could have brought back. He was my own guide and personal photographer, but more than that, Daniel is my new friend & I love him so much for becoming a new part of my family!

Me, Daniel, and my brother Ruben at Chapultepec!

After boarding, landing, and crossing back into the United States a few hours later, I was overcome with so many emotions. I still couldn’t believe how the last few days had played out. I’d traveled to a new country, experienced an insane amount of adventure, and just like that, I was home.

Like I’ve said before, this trip was one I won’t soon forget. It gave me a new outlook on my life. It brought me joy in my heart and opened my eyes to my own culture which I have admittedly not embraced as I should. It also allowed me to take part in experiences I may not have ever gotten to take, like the trip to Teotihuacan’s pyramids. It is something I am extremely lucky to have experienced and something I am excited to share with you all.

Stay tuned, parts 2 & 3 are coming soon!

In part 2 of this series, I will be looking at Mexico from a fitness, health and wellness perspective. I’ll take you inside some of my meals, as well as through the physical endurance I had to build up & the mental effects this trip had.

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