Our apartment building in Mexico City's leafy, bohemian colonia Hipódromo La Condesa. This newly gentrified old neighborhood is full of hip restaurants, trees, parks, and stylish people walking stylish dogs. Mexico Cooks! fits right in--well, at least our two stylish little dogs fit right in!
Our extremely stylish Papillon, Olive, is flirting with you. Desi, the male, is equally stylish but shy.
If you've been reading Mexico Cooks! for any length of time, you know how deeply in love Mexico Cooks! has always been with the state of Michoacán and all its wonders. From my very first visit in 1982, Michoacán has been home to my soul. That love has not changed.
Nevertheless, about eight months ago, my partner and I reluctantly began talking about moving elsewhere. The current problems in Michoacán are serious, as are the problems we experienced in Morelia. Mexico Cooks! has always been primarily about the joyous beauty of Michoacán; that physical beauty hasn't changed, but life there has been deeply affected by what we all hope are the temporary difficulties of living in a city and state where narcotraficantes (drug traffickers) cause big and frequent trouble.
I have been loathe to write about these problems and have believed that surely their end is near, but our personal life in Morelia--and my professional life as Mexico Cooks!--continued to be gravely impacted by the ongoing situation there. Recurrent and very real narcoviolencia all over Michoacán made it all but impossible to take visiting tour groups out into the hinterlands to visit small-town fairs and festivals. Mexico Cooks! would never put you at risk, nor would I choose to be at risk myself. In addition, traffic problems and constant road blockages made it increasingly difficult to travel even the short distance from our Morelia home to Morelia's historic center.
Ultimately, we decided to move to Mexico City. Before, during, and since the move I have repeated, "In more than 30 years in Mexico, it never would have occurred to me that life is more secure in Mexico City than it is in the provinces. But life in Mexico has changed, and my knowledge about security has also changed."
Our new home when we first saw it in January 2011. The gray paths are heavy paper, put down as temporary protection for the newly varnished 60-year-old hardwood floors. This long room measures about 40 feet from the front door to the French doors leading to the balcony.
We spent part of December and part of January apartment-hunting in the big city--its current population estimate is something above twenty million. After searching in several neighborhoods, we narrowed our choice to La Condesa, where several of our friends already live.
In mid-January, we found what we were looking for: a large, quiet apartment in a building with an elevator, within walking distance to public transportation and at a rent we could afford. After having seen any number of apartments that were definitely not 'the one', it was love at first sight when we opened the door to this one. In mid-February, we moved. The moving company estimated that they packed and transported seven tons of our household goods, and when moving-in day arrived, the building's elevator was not working. All seven tons of furniture and moving boxes came up the stairs on the backs of the moving crew. Ay ay ay!
The Mexico Cooks! office, where I write the articles and process the photos. All of the rooms have marvelous floor-to-ceiling windows for lots of light and air. One of the fringe benefits of moving to this part of the city is ease of getting around: we parked our car in the building's garage and have not moved it since mid-February. We walk everywhere, take the Mexico City metro or the MetroBus if we're going a longer distance, and will only use the car for trips outside the city--that is, if we don't take one of Mexico's superb long-distance buses.
We're lucky to have twice-weekly tianguis (street markets) within three blocks of our apartment. Every Tuesday and Friday, we stroll over to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs and many staples. The neighborhood supermarket is handy (and also within easy walking distance) for needs the tianguis can't meet.
Street food is everywhere around us. This stand, Tortas y sincronizadas Los Cuñados (the brothers-in-law) is on a corner less than half a block from our building. The owner opens every day except Sunday, from about 9:00 AM until early evening. The first few weeks we were here, we bought sincronizadas (think flour tortillas stuffed with ham, egg, cheese, and chiles, then grilled till the cheese oozes out the sides) or tortas (sandwiches made on a soft telera roll) for breakfast nearly every morning.
Leaving Michoacán has been very difficult for me. Don't get me wrong: I love our beautiful apartment, I love our neighborhood, and I love Mexico City. I think it's the most exciting city in this part of the world. There may come a time when my soul moves here to join my physical self, but just for now a huge part of my heart is still in residence in the mountains of Michoacán.
Mexico Cooks! is taking a new direction starting this week; I think you'll enjoy the places we go and the things we bring you. Stay tuned every Saturday morning: we'll be right here. Let us know what you think as you explore this incredibly vibrant, totally electric, cosmopolitan and crazy city with us.
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