Written November 19th, 2011, at a Starbucks on Calle 16 de septiembre in the historic center of Mexico City.
It’s the day after my 21st birthday and I’m in Mexico City!! Three other girls from the IFSA program and I flew up for the long weekend (got here on Thursday morning and will be here through tomorrow morning), and it has been amazing! It’s my first time in Mexico City, other than layovers at the airport, and the combination of that and my 21st birthday means that this trip has actually been the best ever.
I feel like a theme of my semester here in Mexico has been transforming my idea of what Mexico is and what it means to be Mexican and of course how this relates to me and to my experiences previous to studying abroad. Mexico City has blown me away. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot here: my favorite professor back at Amherst (who happens to be from the DF) taught a class last spring on the argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges. I disliked almost everything we read in the course, and got into many discussions in class and at office hours about what subjects a Latin-American writer should write about – is it okay if he writes about Europe? About philosophy? About rich people? Avoids the subject of love? Borges does all these things and I was uncomfortable with that, felt that he was not focusing on the “real” Latin America’s everyday troubles and cares and people. This trip hasn’t made me like Borges suddenly, but in the past few days, spending time at the Palacio Bellas Artes, a million other museums, hanging out with people who are all Mexican in such different ways, I think I finally know/understand that there are many realities in Latin America, and it’s unjust to have this box in my mind that everyone should be from Jalisco and love salsa Valentina and dancing just because I do. Because thinking that THAT is what makes me Mexican marginalizes everyone who doesn’t fit into that. This is something that talking to and learning about my IFSA program spanish teacher has also brought me to realize. Like I pride myself on being so complex and having such an interesting background, but I wasn’t allowing other people to do the same, or I wasn’t open to understanding them fully.
So many not-fully-formed thoughts! I don’t know, I’ve just been loving Mexico City. Like if I lived here I could just be all of myself, completely unrestricted. I realize this is a fantasy; obviously DF is more than the Basílica and the Zócalo and the hipster parties in Roma neighborhood, but I do think there’s a little bit of truth in what I’m feeling.
Oh right, what did we do in DF? Walked up Paseo de la Reforma for hours, spent a day in Chapultepec, a forest in the city with lakes, museums, tortas, etc., saw a concert at Palacio Bellas Artes, explores tons of neighborhoods, went to so many museums that my feet are blistered and I couldn’t even read captions anymore. Saw Frida Kahlo’s house, a ceramic piece of art called Bebopera II, hung out with friends of our friend’s sister’s who were super interesting, biked, visited many bookstores and a library, went to UNAM’s campus (stupidly on a Saturday so everything was closed), ate tortas and tacos and huaraches and starbucks and bad italian food and good italian food and heard all kinds of music on the street and in stores and at bars (cumbia electronica??) and had great conversations and felt so lucky to be living this right now and so ready to share it with everyone and learn from it etc. etc. etc.
Basically it’s been sick and I want to come back and live here forever or something!