Mexico City was one giant palette of primary and pastel colors. Everywhere I looked, I saw splashes of hot pink, lavender cream and neon green covering the cracked walls of buildings in hip neighborhoods like La Roma, Condesa and Juarez. The branches of succulents dripped from the balconies of every apartment building, as if owning plants were a requirement for residency. Small parks of lush trees divided the streets of every block – greenery was abundant in this bustling city of nearly 9 million residents. Every day, billowing clouds hung low on the verge of rain. Yet, despite a daily forecast of 50% chance of rain, they only drenched the city daily for 30 minutes before sun would pierce through them once again. Drivers, shop owners and locals showered us with friendship, eager to please and bond. It wasn’t out of obligation but simple, embraced habit. Everything about this city left me in awe. I had already come in with high expectations, hearing from friends who recently visited about how wonderful it was practically every month. I had to see what the fuss was about. Within two hours of being in this city, my expectations were wildly surpassed.
I came to Mexico with a slight fascination of Latin culture thanks to my upbringing in Los Angeles, a city with one of the heaviest concentrations of Hispanics – I listen to Prince Royce and Juanes on KXOL-FM, the Spanish station here. I studied Spanish language in grade school for five years, and devour the chilaquiles and tacos that I can easily find down the street, at the park or in my own kitchen thanks to my Columbian and Mexican roommates. When these elements of Mexican-American culture were set amidst a more realistic depiction in their homeland, I was only more enchanted. I begun to understand why people moved from Mexico to LA, since the two cities are actually very similar to each other despite their physical distance of 2,000 miles. The landscape of Mexico City is very similar to the crowded quarters of Los Angeles. The sprawled out city is 573 square miles, comparable to LA’s 503. In both places, you can have a lover in the same city and still be in a “long distance relationship.” They’re both teeming with artistic culture, rich savory foods, and never-ending traffic. Despite their similarities, how did I find myself in such a blissful state of culture shock? It was the colors, the people and the laid back way of life that left me totally enamored with the city. It was like and unlike Los Angeles. It was a city of vibrancy and easy affability.