More than four months have passed since we left Mexico. One recurring lesson of this travel life is that during the time when we’re at home, I’m significantly less likely to keep up with our blog. But I do want to close out the leg with a quick “What We Learned” post for the sake of consistency and my memory. So I’m writing this from the road again in Nairobi! But more on that in the next post. For now, here are the key lessons we learned on Leg 12.
Flexibility is Great
This year, we had our first major health issue with a family member since we started traveling. We learned about it during this leg and knew we’d want to be present in the U.S. for the main parts of the treatment, so we adjusted some of our plans, including flights and reservations, for our next leg in Africa. Luckily that wasn’t too difficult and our safari and month-long African Airbnb hosts were both very flexible about changing our dates from July to September. That gave us enough time in the U.S. this summer to be present for family in case we were needed, which was definitely the right call.
Being self-employed and location-independent made it super-easy to be where I needed to be and when during the four months we were back in the United States. I was grateful to be able to do that. It’s one of the many great perks of this lifestyle. Also, it was good to learn that changing our plans wasn’t that hard or expensive. We were prepared for it to cost thousands of dollars to make the changes but it actually wasn’t that bad.
We did two month-long stays in Mexico City on this leg, which was very helpful for identifying our preferences about neighborhoods. To be fair, we really enjoyed both places. But we definitely gravitate more toward the south of the city near Coyoacan and the UNAM area.
Our first stay in February was down there, in the Xoco neighborhood adjacent to Coyocan, just a block away from the Cineteca Nacional. We absolutely loved being in this part of the and will be looking here again on future stays. Most digital nomads prefer Roma and Condesa, but we really like the smaller, greener areas to the south.
Our second stay in April was more toward the central area, in a neighborhood called Juarez that includes Koreatown and a small LGBTQ+ enclave. We liked this area too, especially being so close to Parque Chapultepec and the great public transit access (we literally had a Metro entrance in front of our building). But, it was a lot more bustling and crowded too.
On future stays in CDMX, we intend to look for apartments in the south again, probably just south of Coyoacan. But that won’t be anytime soon. Because…
It’s Actually Possible to Get Tired of Mexico
As we learned in Leg 10 (and I wrote about here(link)), even in a place we love, it is possible to become tired of it and crave something new. That definitely happened toward the end of our four months in Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE Mexico. For so many reasons. But spending four months straight there made us ready for more new places and so we’ll be skipping Mexico in 2024. In fact, we may even make it an 18-month or two-year break, with our next legs likely to be South America, then Europe, then Asia.
Pick Up Rental Cars Outside City Center
We rented a car in Mexico City for a day trip (see the story here) and I was happy there was a rental place that was walkable from our apartment on the south side of the city (during our first month). I thought this was ideal since our destination was south. However, we had to travel north through the city to reach the highway both ways and the traffic was an absolute mess, especially coming back in the late afternoon to return the rental car. Chad was a champ about driving in those difficult conditions, but we agree in the future, we’ll look for rental cars on the outer ring of the city and take transit or a taxi to get there.
Enjoying Other Cultures
As I mentioned, our second CDMX stay was next to Koreatown. We really enjoyed trying several authentic Korean restaurants during our month there, featuring lots of foods we’d never even heard of before. It really whet our appetites (pun intended) for a future visit to Korea. And delicious, authentic Asian food was a great break from all the delicious, authentic Mexican food we ate throughout this leg. We’ll definitely keep an eye out in major cities we visit in the future for other cultural neighborhoods.
Bonus Lesson – Remember to Try Strange Street Foods
This isn’t a new lesson, but we deeply embraced sampling the fun street foods of Mexico on this leg, especially dorilocos, a crushed bag of Doritos with a ton of crazy toppings including shredded carrots, jicama, hot sauce, chamoy sauce, pickled pork rinds, Japanese peanuts, and more. Another interesting one we found in Parque Chapultepec (home of dorilocos) was chicharrón preparado, a fried pork rind topped with veggies and crema. And of course, we love esquites (Mexican street corn, off the cob) and churros and all sorts of other street treats. We also tried raspados on this trip – shaved ice topped with fruit syrup. Always yummy.
Extra Bonus Lesson – Remedios Varo
We discovered the surrealist art of Remedios Varo on this trip, first through a single work that stood out to us at the free Foro Valparaiso museum and then at an excellent exhibition of her work at the Museo de Arte Moderno. She was a Spanish artist but most of her painting career was in Mexico when she settled there as a refugee during World War II. I find her work really evocative and inspiring.
Our revelations during Leg 12 may not have been as dramatic as some on our earlier legs, but we continue to learn a lot on each and every trip we take. Mexico remains one of our favorite countries. It was a great place to spend four months.