what i learned thanks to Radiohead and Mexico City

i thought it was extravagant, the whole idea.  “sure i’d love to see Radiohead, but we just can’t afford it right now…  and in Mexico City?”  i tried to explain this to Karina, but she stood firm.  deep inside, the trip appealed to me – the younger, more impetuous part of me.  a month later i found myself on a plane to Mexico City (which is called the big DF by those who live there.  and the people who live there are called chilangos by Mexicans living in the north.)

at the DF airport, we ran into a friend of our friend who lives in DF, and we ended up sharing a cab into the city.  what are the odds?  anyway, one of the first things i noticed about DF is that it looked like a run-down version of a European city.  All of the character, but with less maintenance.  This city is VAST.  it had its share of tall buildings, (though not as many as you would think for being the 2nd most populated city in the world) but i was more impressed with the amount of hand painted signage on the myriads of small buildings.  I joked with K that if she got a graphic design job there, on her first day she would be handed a brush and can of paint.  the first night we ended up eating sushi and later, italian food.  (i know, it’s odd how many non-mexican restaurants you can find in that city)  we were lured into the smallish-sized italian place (by american standards) by the promise of an exotic trapeze performance.  it was the first time i had eaten 10 feet away from women spinning and dangling from ropes, hoops, and such.

we met up with some very friendly and hip urban types later that night. (which ended up being a reoccurring theme of the trip)  we had some drinks and talked about random things that people talk about in DF at 1AM with gringo strangers who don’t speak spanish. (me)  most everyone spoke english enough to have basic conversations, which helped in making me feel a part of things.  but, as the group got more drunk and tired, they tended to gravitate towards conversing in spanish.  To be honest, I know a decent amount of Spanish words – about enough to tease my brain into thinking it could figure out what was being said if it could only try hard enough.  i understood some…  but i missed way more.  which leads me to my first lesson learned:  when you don’t speak the language, you immediately feel like an outsider.  those who know me would likely call me confident. (even overly so)  in Mexico city, that went out the window, and fast.  I felt like the awkward introverted kid in the class who the girls shunned and the guys picked last to play kickball.

[ to be continued… ]

3 thoughts on “what i learned thanks to Radiohead and Mexico City

  1. benjammin.myopenid.com/

    Great story… can’t wait to read more.

    I agree – when I visited the city of Ensenada in Baja MX, the downtown area had that European feel, and a lot of the younger people are more hipster-ish than people here. I also know how it feels to be an outsider to the language – it’s a great benefit that Latin people are very warm and hospitable even when you aren’t completely on the same level. But if you want to be humbled while you learn, with sustained effort you could learn the language in a fairly short period of time. It’s one of the most awesome feelings in the world to learn even half of a new language and feel like a hundred new possibilities just opened up to you.

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