Don't be Scared — GO
Most people give you this look when you say you’re going to Mexico City, like you’re crazy — or just stupid. Here’s the deal, if you stay in the right neighborhoods, you can walk freely through the night without a care in the world. Just like any city, there are good parts and bad parts.
CDMX - like “NYC” for New York - is a beautiful city that has this great mix of European and North American feel. The city is simultaneously modern and ancient.
It’s a photographer’s paradise with beautiful light - thanks to layers of smog - mixed with vibrant colors and greenery poking in from all angels. The people are friendly, helpful and tolerant — even if you don’t speak the language.
Conversion Rates are the Best
When I arrived in the Mexico City airport, clearing customs was a breeze. White Boy Privilege allows me to filter like a ghost through airports. Border control agents pass me through with a minimal glance. It’s the most bizarre feeling.
Once out of customs, I called up an Uber and was quoted “$155.” I freaked out for a few minutes, googled and made sure that I was going to the right neighborhood, Roma Norte. I was.
Delaney, my lovely girlfriend who encouraged me to come along to CDMX and has been before, told me before that the Ubers were cheap - “like 3 bucks to get around town,” she said.
I quickly cobbled together a new Plan. I’ll just split this Uber with Delaney and our friends Sam and Amy when they arrive in about two hours. In the meantime, I’ll grab a bite to eat.
I pop into a coffee shop and look down at a can of Coke with a price tag that says “$20.” HELLO! Conversion rates, Casey. You’re not in Kansas anymore. Who was the guy that decided to just use the American Dollar Sign for freaking pesos? That Uber from the airport to my AirBnB my was actually about $8.60.
Our AirBnB was an awesome condo in the Roma Norte neighborhood. It had a security desk manned 24-hours, codes to get into the building and into our condo, and it was gorgeous. Our condo was on the third floor, had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a projector screen and huge windows that opened up. It was very stylishly decorated with a mirror hung on one of the turquoise walls with the message “You look so COOL” spray painted in pink over it. It only cost the four of us $50 each for three nights.
My First Earthquake
While waiting for my friends to arrive, I ventured outside to take some pictures. The golden light spilling down the street in front of our AirBnB was some of the prettiest I have ever seen and is featured in a ton of my images.
I made it maybe two blocks around the neighborhood when I look up from taking a picture of something and see a man standing across the street on the sidewalk just staring up at the building behind me. Fascinated with this, I snap a picture. Then I notice people pouring out of all the nearby buildings dragging pets and children with them.
They gather in a mass in the center of an open parking lot with fear evident on their faces. Then I feel it. The earth began to shift like water under my feet as though I was suddenly on the deck of a boat. Not knowing how to react, I fired off a text message to Delaney who was in an Uber across town - “What the Fuck!?,” is all I can manage to compose.
I immediately snap into photojournalist mode and begin snapping pictures.
I fond out about 15 minutes later that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck 220 miles south of Mexico City, in Oaxaca. Mexico’s advanced earthquake warning system set alarms off in the buildings giving people a 45-second head start. The quake didn’t do any damage in CDMX but was strong enough to shake the buildings, kick up a lot of dust and spook an already on-edge city.
About six-months prior to our visit, a big earthquake hit the city directly and killed hundreds and brought down schools and other buildings. People just stayed in the streets for hours after it hit, too nervous to venture back into their buildings.
Roaming the Streets — Roma, Condesa and Polanco
We spent nearly our entire trip in the neighborhoods of Roma Norte, Condesa and Polanco which are all beautiful and have their own unique feel. They all touch and bleed from one to another and you can easily catch an Uber for $3 from one to the next.
For the most part, we just roamed around and found things that interested us visually.
We had a lovely Sushi dinner and lots and lots of drinks on the rooftop of the famous Condesa DF Hotel and had the coolest waiter. This will be a theme, but a dinner that should have cost $500 or more here was actually about $50 per person.
Mexico City in interlaced with these beautiful green spaces that break up the city and make it so beautiful.
Here is Delaney on our first morning roaming around the city having the "best Americano ever."
While we sat outside of the cafe, there were several different busking musicians that would hang and play. Always the sucker for a cello, I couldn't help but film this guy for a moment. You can also see someone selling palm leaves or something in the background. People came by the whole time we were sitting there selling handmade toys, giant rugs and everything in between.
The Arctic Bar
The Arctic Bar was something that Sam found in his research, and it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a two-room night club where one room is really a huge walk-in freezer they have converted into a bar that is complete with couches made of ice, ice sculptures and this foam that kind of resembles snow covering the diamond plate floor. We rode the elevator up after paying a MEX$180 ($10) cover to get in.
The first room is just like any other club. It was loud, they had tables, offered bottle service and people were dancing to a live DJ. At first, we though we had to buy a bottle, but they were just saying we had to buy drinks to post up at a table. We just wanted to go check out the actual Arctic part of the Arctic Bar that we had read about.
We figured out after ordering some crappy mojitos, that you just had to go to the back part of the club to get into the cold room. At the back, there was a huge freezer door and and an attendant handing out full-length white parkas - the type you see people exploring the arctic in. We tipped the attendant and went in.
While the normal part of the club was bumping, the cold room was abandoned. Besides the four of us, there was just a bartender. I think the novelty had worn off for the locals.
We immediately dropped our coats to do some quick drunken photos and burnt our buns on the ice couch.
After our photo shoot, we had a shot of tequila becuase duh and then got outta there.
More Street Roaming
Final Dinner at the Four Seasons
We capped our final night in CDMX with an amazing dinner and some drinks at the Four Seasons in Polanco. Our waiter was flawless, our food was amazing and it cost about $30 a person in one of the most stunning settings I have ever eaten in. The bathroom had single-use cotton linens to dry your hands with. Come on!
Excuse the noise, but it was worth showing. We had amazing cocktails and a real cuban cigar to wrap the trip. The dude in the picture above was roasting the cedar plank for my bourbon cocktail. Sam had a drink that was garnished with these huge ants - like actual ants.
We had an amazing time in this wonderful city and our already planning our next trip and seeking clients out. Stay tuned for more from our new favorite foreign port.