365 days of living in the wondrous, surreal, and overwhelming DF

“Today marks exactly 365 days of me living in Mexico City.”

16-11-2014. 1 year already? Yes, 1 year! This occurred to me while chatting with my French roommate and sorting out photographs I had taken during the long weekend. What better day to post my first blogpost?

Since I have been busy experiencing the city so I actually have something to write about, I, well, haven’t exactly have the time to sit down and write a tremendously inspired and interesting post. Not YET. Yes. Really. The time will come where I will sit down with a hangover-curing or otherwise energizing and cleansing smoothie from Ojo de Agua in the shadow of a violet Jacaranda tree and start typing down all the wonderful stories I have experienced here, believe it or not.

For now, I will share my personal (love)story with Mexico’s capital. After much encouragement from my friends and fellow Mexico City expats (or let’s be honest, mostly wannabe expats that get paid in the steadily devaluating Mexican currency, the peso), and a short stint on The Guardian Cities Witness section, I feel like the time is rife to share my writing and photos with the world. I hope you enjoy it.

A figure of La Catrina, symbol of the Day of the Dead

Dear Mexico City,

It was not love at first sight. The first time I laid eyes on you, all I noticed were your filthy streets, overwhelming smells and screaming sounds. I felt small. To me, you looked like a monster that at any given moment could engulf me into your big chaotic self. Forever lost, I thought. I craved the old, narrow streets of Europe. You felt like a mismatch of different cultures, tastes and values. No, I did not like you. You were not pretty, you were not easy to fall in love with. But you were strong. Your vastness fascinated me.

Unbeknownst to myself, I started noticing your beauty. The ancient crooked market lady with the braids, the little boys kicking balls in the neighbouring street. The freshly pressed, incredibly inexpensive orange juice I began to drink on an almost daily basis. The salty and spicy beers, and the ever-present tacos al pastor at wee hours of the morning or dim evening lights. I grew used to the many intrusive sounds. Even started to sing along to them. And while I sometimes still think about throwing tomatoes, somehow it never happens.

Your wings harbor many feasts, secret and otherwise. Your streets are innumerable, your beauty spread out. You very much are a city that forces its people to be patient. But somehow, your restlesness makes me feel at peace. Where once I felt small, now I feel free. Your constant motion translates to us, makes us all more adaptable. And your culture is rich, oil and paint and glass and stone come together to form the colourful art that graces your streets, your homes and your soul.

You do not fear the dark, you celebrate it. You pride yourself in traditions, in honouring the past. But sometimes you scream, as the burden you carry becomes too heavy. Souls dissapear in the mass you house. Mothers cry and children pray. There are minutes of silence held. Yes, you are a city of contrasts.

But mostly you smile. You laugh. And every single day, I love you a little bit more.

© All text and pictures by Alexandra Brandt Corstius