Culture

Give Yourself The Local Taste Of Mexico City By Visiting These Often Overlooked Neighborhoods

If you’re an avid traveler like myself, it’s most likely that you have already seen notable sites including Times Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, the Hollywood sign. Been there, done that. And, that’s just naming prominent locations in the U.S. So when I travel to other beautiful countries, I like the feeling of becoming a local, and not a tourist. On my most recent visit to Mexico City, I opted out of the usual spots including Chichen Itza, El Zocalo, Plaza Garibaldi, or Frida’s Casa Azul, because why go there again? This time around, I wanted to experience more of local culture, and what I found was mesmerizing.   

Mexico City is a lot like Los Angeles and New York City. There are pockets of flourishing neighborhoods, historic streets, and bustling boulevards that have so much to offer. To get to the heart of each hood, you have to stay there for at least a couple of days to feel it out. When you’re on vacation, that last thing you want to do is be stuck in traffic or a crowded subway. The remedy for that is to book a hotel or Airbnb and stay put. Here’s a round-up of some incredible neighborhoods in Mexico City. 

La Condesa

Courtesy of Araceli Cruz

In 2017, a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City (epicenter was in Puebla) and killed almost 400 people. It left several neighborhoods devastated in rubble and collapsed buildings. One such area was the neighborhood La Condesa, known for its tree-lined streets, hipster residents, and excellent restaurants. Walking around La Condesa, you can still see several destroyed buildings, but the area is back to its lively self.

I loved eating at the adorable Maque restaurant, known for its home-made Mexican bread, and Lardo, mostly for the people-watching and posh atmosphere. Other must-see stops include Avenida Amsterdam, where you’ll see stunning mansions, plazas, and lots of dog walkers, Galería Vórtice, full of contemporary Mexican artists, and Foro Shakespeare, to see the cool independent theater. There’s also great shopping, including my favorite, Carla Fernandez. One-stop that is definitely a must is seeing the house were Roma was filmed. It’s located in Roma Sur, not far from La Condesa at 22 Tepeji street. 

Santa Fe

Courtesy of Araceli Cruz

To get a state of one of the most modern and affluent neighborhoods in Mexico City, you must visit Santa Fe. Driving into Santa Fe, you’d think you were in Manhattan or Hong Kong because all you see are skyscrapers everywhere. You’ll also find a La Mexicana, a breathtaking new urban park that will take up your entire day. The grounds are very vast, so you’ll need a good chunk of time to see it all, especially if you’re taking kids with you. There’s also plenty to eat and drink there, as well as playgrounds, lakes, and sculpture art. 

At the epicenter of Santa Fe has to be the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. The building itself stands out with its circle-shaped exterior, and the views from the top floor are magical. There’s also so much shopping around that very spot, from the Samara Shops to the Centro Santa Fe. About a 10-minute drive is also Cuajimalpa, which is home to the Museo Pedro Infante, a charming tribute museum that honors the tremendous Mexican film star. 

San Angel

Courtesy of Araceli Cruz

If you’re in the mood to walk around a quaint and historic area, nothing beats San Angel. Each cobblestone street has gorgeous homes. You may even bump into actor Diego Luna who lives there! I highly recommend visiting the Mercado San Angel (on Saturdays) where you will see unique Mexican merchandise at pretty reasonable prices. The highlight, in my honest opinion, has to be the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo — their separated/connected homes. For fans of Rivera and Kahlo, who’ve already experienced her Casa Azul, this studio visit will leave you in awe. You will see Rivera’s studio filled with his artwork and collection of Mexican antiques, as well as Kahlo’s smaller studio where she created some of her most famous artworks.

Mixcoac

Credit: Facebook / Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil

Walking distance from San Angel is Mixcoac that is true as local as it gets. I stayed there for a couple of nights and was able to take in great restaurant establishments such as Modesto Paniagua, with yummy Mexican bites. Other stops I made included visiting the home where  Mexican poet Octavio Paz once lived (now called Casa Alvarado), and the Arte Carrillo Gil Museo. You can also find shopping and nightlife, including the Cave Rodrigo de la Cadena where there’s always live music.

READ: Chefs In Mexico City Have Created The World’s Largest Torta And It’s Truly Enormous

Mexican Couple Hailed As Heroes For Saving 10 Dogs From Flooding Caused By Hurricane Hanna

Culture

Mexican Couple Hailed As Heroes For Saving 10 Dogs From Flooding Caused By Hurricane Hanna

Betty Vaquera Escandón / Facebook

Hurricane Hanna slammed into Texas and Mexico on July 26 as a Category 1 hurricane. Yet, the most resilient story to come from Mexico is that of a couple who rescued some sweet puppies. Their ingenuity is something that will make every Mexican proud.

This is one of the most touching moments from Hurrican Hanna.

Mis papás perdieron todo… pero lograron sacar sus bebés 😭

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Sunday, July 26, 2020

That’s right. Those sweet puppies owe it all to the loving couple who took them into their bucket and rescued them. We have seen so many heartbreaking images over the years of animals abandoned to die when places flood during hurricanes.

The videos, posted by the couple’s daughter, is being accepted with so much love and excitement.

This is a fact. These people are some of the most compassionate people by saving these puppies. Who wouldn’t want to take the time to make sure that their furbabies are okay?

She posted a follow up live video when the flooding subsided to show just how damaging it was.

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Monday, July 27, 2020

The storm dropped 18 inches of rain on southern Texas and northern Mexico. The video shows damage throughout the couple’s home and the daughter was there to document it all for them. It is clear from the level of the water that there was nothing else that could have bee done to protect these little puppies.

They did another follow up just to thank everyone.

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Just like any good Latino couple, they thanked everyone who has reached out to them. It is truly such a sweet and wonderful story. We will forever keep this couple in our hearts because of everything they did.

Tbh, it would be so hard not to protect these angels.

Mi antidepresivo 🐶🐶🥰💕 #Elmilaneso

Posted by Betty Vaquera Escandón on Friday, July 10, 2020

We can only hope to be as selfless and important as this couple.

READ: Hurricane Hanna Battered Texas But Did It Actually Knock Over Part Of Trump’s Border Wall?

The Coronavirus Is Starting To Hit Mexico’s Poorest Communities And The Results Could Be Devastating

Things That Matter

The Coronavirus Is Starting To Hit Mexico’s Poorest Communities And The Results Could Be Devastating

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Mexico has been ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s a fact. It now ranks fourth globally in terms of deaths related to the virus, with nearly 50,000 dead. However, many of those cases and deaths have largely been centered on the country’s large cities – including Ciudad de México, Guadalajara and Tijuana.

That appears to be changing as many of Mexico’s most remote and poorest pueblos – most inhabited by Indigenous communities – have started to see the virus appear on their doorsteps. With many rural pueblitos lacking access to healthcare and many having extreme rates of poverty, this could spell disaster for Mexico’s most vulnerable communities.

Mexico’s poorest village has its first case of Coronavirus and this could be devastating for locals.

Mexico’s rural pueblitos, largely home to Indigenous communities, had mostly escaped the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. For months, as the virus raged across the country, Mexico’s Indigenous communities enacted their own checkpoints and lockdowns and roadblocks that helped contain the virus’ spread. However, that strategy seems to have reached a dead end as new reports of Covid-19 emerge from Mexico’s poorest and most rural communities.

In Oaxaca, the village of Santos Reyes Yucuná – which is Mexico’s poorest, reported its first case of the virus on July 17, four months after the pandemic reached Mexico. The virus took longer to find its way to this remote, Mixtec community located 140 miles from the state’s capital due to its lack of infrastructure, especially roads.

Santos Reyes Yucuná is especially vulnerable to virus. The government’s social development agency (CONEVAL) estimates that 99.9% of the 1,380 residents live in extreme poverty. The region has no hospital and most residents do not have health insurance or the means to travel to a hospital in another area. Another town in Oaxaca’s Mixteca region, Coicoyán de las Flores, is in a similar situation with similar levels of poverty. One case of the Coronavirus was reported last month and the patient, a 25-year-old woman, died. 

Last weekend, 23 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in the Mixteca region, for a total of 482 positive cases and at least 48 reported deaths. The area’s municipal seat, Huajuapan, has the highest number of cases at 30, with three people hospitalized. 

Many rural communities had been labeled ‘Communities of Hope’ and were allowed to reopen early to avoid severe economic costs.

As the Coronavirus first arrived to Mexico, many leaders of rural pueblitos were quick to enact strict preventive measures, closing food markets and installing health checkpoints and roadblocks. But as the economic effects began to be felt, the government launched a program known as the “Municipalities of Hope.”

The program included 324 towns that the government decided were eligible to reopen early. The plan allowed places with no Covid-19 cases – and with no cases in surrounding areas – to start lifting restrictions, in an attempt to mitigate the shutdown’s devastating economic impact.

But just a couple of months later, that list has dwindled to just a few dozen villages. One town – Ometepec, Guerrero, lasted less than 14 days on the list. “In just a few weeks, we went from zero to 47 confirmed cases and six dead,” said Ulises Moreno Tabarez, a postdoctoral researcher who lives in the town.

According to Dr Carlos Magis Rodríguez, a professor of medicine and a public health researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a lack of serious lockdown measures doomed the strategy from the beginning. “If there were strict control of entrances and exits, a quarantine upon arrival, it could have worked,” Magis Rodríguez told Reforma. “The places this has worked are practically islands.”

But less than two months later, Mexico has become one of the worst-affected countries in the world.

Credit: Toya Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

As of July 29, Mexico has more than 400,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 44,876 people have died from the virus. Mexico now ranks 6th globally in number of cases and 4th in number of deaths. And these numbers are widely seen as under reporting the severity of the crisis. Mexico has one of the lowest testing rates in the world, at approximately 2.5 tests per confirmed case, compared with the U.S. rate of 12.52, the UK’s 22.57 – and New Zealand’s rate of 359.2.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s weak healthcare system is underfunded; hospitals attribute a large number of coronavirus deaths to faulty equipment and a lack of resources rather than the virus itself. The country is in no way equipped to provide unemployment benefits or stimulus checks to almost half of the population that lives in poverty. Furthermore, many informal workers lack health insurance. The country has very little in the way of a safety net, so many are forced to decide risking their health or risk going hungry.

Mexicans are not alone as countries across Latin America have failed to support their citizens.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Across Latin America, poor families have faced an impossible choice – between obeying quarantine measures and starving, or venturing out to work despite the danger of infection.

But unlike other leaders, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has not introduced stimulus measures to help the most vulnerable communities, instead his government has pushed through a string of severe austerity measures – even as he emphasized the need for the economy to stay open.

The president has also downplayed the pandemic – claiming in April that Mexico had “tamed” the virus – and repeatedly emphasized the need for the economy to stay open, striking a notably more relaxed tone than warnings from the country’s Covid-19 tsar, Hugo López-Gatell.