After a claustrophobic and extremely long 18-hour journey from London, stopping not just once but twice in Canada, myself and the other ten Southampton students had just about survived each other’s company on the way to Mexico City. Having arrived in the hugely populated and traffic-driven city in the dark, early hours of the morning, the taxi journey to the hotel was a quiet one as we, all sleep deprived and groggy, tried to figure out the aesthetic of Mexico’s capital.
After one day to relax, catch up on sleep, and get our bearings, the remaining time in Mexico City was organised by the Anglo, a Mexican language institute with various centres around the country – seven out of eleven of us will be working there this year. As we explored the city’s attractions we all finally got to know each other properly and it seems a huge shame that this has only just happened before we all go our separate ways. Nevertheless, we’d decided from day one that we would all visit each other over the year, and the early plans of a Christmas trip to Oaxaca and Chiapas has already taken a vague shape.
One of the main things that I’m always on the look out for in other countries is street food. Because we were being ‘toured’ by someone from the Anglo it was his job to keep us ‘safe’ – basically, we had to avoid street food. Obviously, I thought this was kind of ridiculous. We need to build up our tolerance to local authentic food and the way to do it is to avoid Western looking restaurants and go for the more rustic ones, or even better, eat off the street. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do the latter but myself and Bex stumbled upon a very basic looking, family-run restaurant serving a small but authentic breakfast menu. A plate of enchiladas with salsa verde, refried beans, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice came at just 50 pesos, around £2.
As we strolled around the city it was evident that its residents are politically driven, upset and losing faith in the Mexican government, police and institutions. On buildings, statues and in plazas people had made their thoughts and concerns clear in the form of political graffiti and art. ‘43’ and ‘Justicia’ were sprawled everywhere referring to the tragic case of the 43 desaparecidos – 43 students who supposedly went ‘missing’ a year ago in Iguala, Guerrero. Since then, and following various protests and demonstrations demanding more information about the case, there has been hardly any progress regarding the whereabouts of the students. It is widely believed that the government or police have assassinated the 43 with this becoming stronger after the discovery of a mass grave which was initially thought to contain the bodies of the students. The case has given the country an even stronger reason to believe their police and government are corrupt and dishonest. With the abundance of political graffiti there is no doubt that the government are aware of the country’s worries and I only hope that the political scene in Mexico will grow stronger in order to prove their point and present the government with a people who are willing to fight for justice and won’t stop until the truth has been spilled.
Update: I’m now in Colima, a suburbs-like area where the majority of shops are a bus ride away. It’s also extremely hot compared to Mexico City. This is going to take some getting used to.