My first 24 hours in Mexico City couldn’t have been more colorful. A cold front has settled in here, as well, with temperatures dipping into the mid-40s, and since there are no heaters, people are huddling over soups and hot coffees in the open-air cafes. Except for a few golden hours yesterday morning, a drizzly grey pall grips the city. Still, the flowers are blooming and a general air of cheerfulness has made headway against the gloom – especially on Wednesday, Dia de los Reyes, a Mexican holiday celebrating the arrival of the Magi to visit the baby Jesus.
My first evening found me in Cafe La Boheme, a charming cafe that was serving Rosca de Reyes, a seasonal specialty featuring candied fruits and a delicious cream filling. I found an internet signal, a cup of cappucino and sat down to enjoy my rosca and e-mail. Just as I prepared to leave, a local musician by the name of Sergio Fernandez Pavón took the mike and dedicated his performance to the great Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa, whose recent passing created a vast void in the Latin American folk music scene. I was hooked. The next two hours held music and poetry, laughter and comraderie and a little boy with a little guitar to match. An altogether excellent first night in D.F.
Thursday started bright and early with a breakfast in La Condesa with the Angelica Foundation´s Ana Paula Hernandez, a human rights advocate who has been working with indigenous people on land rights and environmental issues. I´ll write more about Ana Paula later; meanwhile, here´s a tour of the beautiful Condesa.
The high point, however, came on Thursday evening, when I went to get a haircut at a trendy little boutique salon in La Roma, a neighborhood bordering the very chic La Condesa. My stylist, Miguel, was very charming and was doing his best to give me a much needed hairstyle when the lights went out. Not just in our salon but down the entire street.
We sat there for half an hour in the dark, trading jokes and stories, and finally I decided to seek another hairdresser to finish the job. I greatly underestimated the professionalism of this group; I was told quite firmly by a very muscular and tattooed hairdresser down the street that I should let the original stylist finish what he had started, since it would be impossible to know what he had planned to do.
I sighed and went on a search for tacos; my half-cut hair did not diminish my pleasure at finding a bustling everyday festival of outdoor eateries, each with its own savory specialty, surrounding the Chilpancingo Metro station. For 50 cents I chose my favorite – the pineapple-tinged smoked pork tacos al pastor, with fresh cilantro, onions and a squeeze of lime – and was not disappointed. I stood side by side under the plastic overhang with other diners, taking respite from the drizzle in the bright and cheery outdoor cafe, watching the kitchen magicians do their work, and felt thoroughly happy to be here.
I made my way to the famous La Espiga bakery, where people stack trays high with their favorite pan dulces (sweet breads) and chose a tiny fruit tart for Miguel. I headed back in the drizzle, just in time to deliver the pastry and collect the end of my haircut before closing time.
I´ll let you be the judge: How did Miguel do?