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

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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