With another Friday upon us here in the UK, comes another opportunity to learn about a new culture. This time, we’re finding out about exotic Mexico City. Laura… take it away!
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
My name is Laura and while I’m originally from the U.S., I’ve been living and traveling abroad for almost 10 years now!
I currently live in Mexico City and have been here for about a year and a half.
I came to Mexico City on a whim after spending six months traveling around South East Asia. I wanted to settle somewhere for a while and I wanted to go somewhere that I’ve never been to before. Mexico City was a place I could practice my Spanish and also live for pretty cheap as I began building up my blog and freelance business.
2. What do you love most about your hometown?
Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the whole world. It has absolutely everything – fantastic street food, wonderful culture, great museums, world-class restaurants, chic bars, and so much history to explore. It’s a place I think gets overlooked far too often, which is a shame because it has so much to offer.
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Mexico City?
When people don’t even try to speak Spanish! Mexico City might be an international city, but it’s still Mexico and the people that live here speak Spanish. You don’t have to be fluent, but even just memorizing a few things like how to say hello, please, and thank you, make a huge difference and show the people of Mexico City that you respect them and their country.
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Mexico City?
If you are coming to Mexico City for the very first time, you have to go to Teotihuacan. The pyramids just north of the city are absolutely incredible. One of them is actually the third largest in the world!
I also highly recommend Templo Mayor, an Aztec temple right in the center of the city, and the Anthropology Museum which has artifacts from some of the world’s first civilizations.
5. What foods must visitors eat when in your hometown?
There are so many amazing foods to enjoy when you visit Mexico City, but while you’re here, you have to have Tacos de Pastor. This is one of the only foods you’ll find that actually originates from Mexico City. Pastor is a marinated pork that is cooked on a spit similar to a kebab. It’s spicy and complex and is often topped with cilantro and a slice of pineapple.
6. What’s your favourite Mexican Spanish word? Why? What does it mean?
One of the things I love about Mexican Spanish isn’t just a single word, but an ending that gets added to almost everything. I’ve only been to a handful of other Spanish speaking countries and I’ve never heard it anywhere other than in Mexico.
It’s the addition of -ita or -ito on a word to make it more polite or cute. The ending is usually added to signify that something is small (like Señora to Señorita). But in Mexico I’ve heard people ask for a kilito of tomatoes rather than a kilo, or ask for a bolsita at the store rather than a bolsa (plastic bag). It’s something that I really love about the local language.
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to your hometown?
Try all of the food, even if you’re not sure what it is.
8. If you could describe Mexico City in just one sentence, what would you say?
A beautiful chaos.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about the Mexican culture, what should that be?
Mexicans are very proud people. Every one that I’ve met who comes from the city is so happy that tourists are here enjoying their country, and they are always so open to sharing with those that want to learn more. I suggest being open to meeting the kind people of this city, smile, speak whatever Spanish that you can, and just observe the different customs around you.
10. Do you have any interesting traditions you’d like to share with us?
One of my favorite traditions that takes place here in Mexico happens around Christmas time. There is a special bread called the King’s Bread and you eat it with your family around January 6th, which is Three Kings Day.
The bread isn’t particularly delicious (it often has candied chillis on it), but inside the bread there is a hidden plastic baby Jesus. Whoever gets the piece of bread with the plastic figurine inside it must make (or buy) tamales for everyone during the first week of February. It’s a silly, yet quite nice tradition that I think really tells a lot about the family culture here in Mexico.
Thanks Laura – we’ve loved getting to know you and Mexico City better!
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