August 20, 2020

I tried to write about my life in México in full Spanish, but let us be real…my Spanish is not that good yet. So Spanglish, maybe?

Being back home in the Philippines for nearly half a year now (woah, crazy) has been making me miss México and my life there all the more. The simple pleasures of going into cafés to work, walking in parques, and just cooking for my housemates. These were simple things that I miss and long to do once more. Unfortunately, there are not many parques en mi país y no local cafés to try out. There is the ubiquitous Starbucks…pero quien quiere eso?

Usually, I always post photographs I took using my camera when upload travel diaries. Then I realised, the most candid photographs I have ever taken that really show my true lifestyle were taken using my iPhone. So on this blog post, I will be sharing photographs I have taken using one of my favourite applications ever, HUJI.

Let us start from the very beginning.

Casual hangs en mi parque favorito, Parque México.

I arrived in Ciudad de México one fine October evening. It was not hot but it was not cold either. Waiting in line for immigration was much longer than my actual taxi ride del aeropuerto a mi hostal.

I was always writing quotes from #MHN on our hostel wall.

I was set to volunteer at a local hostel called Gael Condesa (which sadly is now closed due to covid-19). Gael was one of the best things about CDMX. This was where I met mi amigos y los hombres, hahaha. Kidding aside, the friends I made at Gael were lifelong friends I will surely cherish forever. Just thinking about our rooftop drinking sessions, dancing sessions, and Netflix sessions is getting me quite emotional. Ah, to be young and to be in a foreign country where nobody really knows your name. Freeing.

One day, I was walking around Roma with my roommate, Kristin. Then we stumbled upon a Miniso. I know, a Miniso! En México! So, obviously, I had to get in and check it out. Then I got my perrito, Dante. He goes with me everywhere and he have not left my side…ever.

Tommy, oh, Tommy. I swear that I have to sigh every time I say his name. Not in a bad way, but he is just so whimsical and true to himself…sometimes even too honest, but we do love that about him.

When there are a lot of guests and when it was sunny, we would usually hang on the roof top and we would do a BBQ. A guy from Switzerland surprised everybody by bringing camarón to the BBQ. It was a nice surprise considering that seafood were usually expensive in CDMX.

Ah, pasta. You would think that I would eat tacos every single day whilst living in México. You are not wrong-ish. Well, I would eat tacos whenever I can. But my main diet whenever I am on the road is…pasta! Usually I just cook it with tomate, basil, ajo, cebolla y mucho salsa de tomate. When I am feeling a bit extra and whenever I am craving meat, I would put chorizo de pavo. Oh, I also put loads and loads of cheese. On this one I put Queso de Oaxaca because they were cheap, they were yummy, and they were everywhere in México!

Another favourite snack in México: cerezas. Usually I would sit in a café and a lady would sell it outside, and that was where I would buy it. They usually cost $100 MXN ($5 USD) for a handful.

One of my favourite cafés in Ciudad de México is this quainte little café called Chiquitito. My order is always ‘un caramel latte con leche de coco’.

A cup of good latte from this spot was usually $60 MXN ($3 USD).

Sometimes I would also order matcha latte from Chiquitito when I feel like changing things up…

My coffee order would vary depending on which café I will end up going to that day. Another favourite spot is called Cafebría El Péndulo, and it is about two blocks away from where I live in Condesa. I would usually order an Americano in this café because if you get an Americano, it was refillable and you can just stay there for the whole afternoon without being weirded out because you have finished your coffee.

A cup of refillable Americano from this spot was $45 MXN ($2 USD).

I would always sit on this exact spot over at Parque México. There I would people watch, read, journal, hunt cute boys (hahaha), and smoke.

México is famous for their cantinas. So basically you get to order food and cervezas in a cantina, and if you drink enough cervezas, your food is ‘free’. That big piece of meat was the Mexican version of Adobo.

Speaking of cervezas, of course we had to try out the local cervezas. Our favourites were Corona, Modelo, Indio, Victoria (not pictured), and Tecate (also not pictured).

Indio has a different label for every estado en México. I think it was very artistic and just beautiful.

One thing I love about eating out in México was the amount of sides and salsas you get with every meal. There would be pico de gallo, salsa verde, salsa rojo, pickled carrots, and pickled cebollas. Please note that they were all muy picante!

Another hobby of mine that progressively evolved from living in CDMX was baking. I loved to bake. I would usually bake cookies and pies, and I loved every bit of it!

Ah, this was my usual breakfast. Erm, avocado toast…how very millennial of me. Ha! Kidding aside, aguacates were in abundance in México and they were very cheap. So I had them almost every day. I paired my toasts with chorizo de pavo (sometimes), huevos (all the time), and asparagus. No joke, I was eating the best when I was living in CDMX. So many great produce!

Another great breakfast pairing: a cup of coffee and a good book!

Todos los días vistas desde Parque México. There would always be locals training their perros, locals playing football, parents with their children, friends hanging out, and just different people trying out new things (like roller blading). Park culture is so big in México, and I wish the rest of the world caught up with it.

I also love trying out new restaurants with my pals. This particular day was spent nearly getting hit by the tram in the calo, raiding thrift shops, and eating vegan tacos. It was such a great day with my Norwegian chica, Sanne (not pictured).

Ah, I do love it when my friends from home comes to visit me. This was my friend, Christian, and he came to see me a few days after Día de los Muertos. Here we were chugging down a litre of pulque…they were bigger than our faces! Pulques are cactus wine-ish, and they are made from the same agaves that are used to make tequilas and mezcals. The difference? Pulques are not cooked, just fermented.

The abundance of tortillas in México were great. I usually always eat corn tortilla instead of the flour ones because corn ones were much more flavourful! Call me weird, but I do love corn tortilla with papas, mayonesa, limón verde, and hoisin sauce…sometimes with quesillo. Hahaha!

Taking the time to read every single day…

In my usual spot in Parque México.

This was a favourite snack whenever I would go to the tianguis every Friday. It was just fried fish and you would squeeze lime over it, and I would dip it in mayonesa, salsa de soya y salsa rojo. Weird, whatever, but I do love it.

A piece of fried fish was about $25 MXN (1 USD).

Another favourite snack from the same food place was this tostada con camarón. You would squeeze lime over it and then put loads of salsa, and it was heaven!

A piece of tostada was about $30 MXN ($1.50 USD).

Obviously, there would be days when I would feel super homesick. I would crave chicken tocino…but in Latin America, tocino was just plain bacon. So I had to improvise. I now know how to make my own preservative-free chicken tocino! Quite proud of myself, really!

How cute is CDMX’s metro card?! You can use this for their MetroBús and for their subway system. The fare was usually about $6 MXN ($.25c USD) for the MetroBús and $12 MXN ($.50c USD) for the subway.

Also, on days when I would miss Asia, I would go to Reforma to eat Korean food. Ah, the comfort of a hot kimchi stew. Maybe next time I should go to Korea? God willing, por supuesto!

I just love market days! Most of the time, the vendors would give you fruit slices to try to convince you to buy from them. One day I just craved sinigang but did not have a sinigang packet. So what did I do? I improvised! I rushed to the market to buy sampaloc and boiled them for ages until the stock was thick. Then I added it to a soup with verduras and I made sinigang from scratch! Preservative-free too!

Honestly, when you are living far from home, adaptability is key! Quite proud of myself for being able to survive despite being continents away, and still making food I grew up eating. Funny because my friends from the Philippines know me as someone who cannot cook to save her life. Meanwhile, my housemates and my friends abroad know me as ‘international chef extraordinaire’, hahaha.

Oh, there was this time around January to February when it would be super cold at night in CDMX. So we would rush to Oxxo (mexican 7-11) to buy hot chocolate. They were really good, plus they were only $22 MXN ($1 USD)…depending on the size.

I was usually in charge of hostel breakfasts. Pancakes were my go-to recipe, and guests loved it so I might be doing something right. Oh, I also never make boxed pancakes because why use pre-made food when you can make it from scratch? That was (and still is) my motto.

I would also hold feasts during Friday’s, and I would ask guests to pay around $70 MXN ($3 USD) to $100 MXN ($5 USD) and they can eat all they want. We have done sushi nights, pasta nights, and more sushi nights. Can I just say that I have never made sushi in my life prior to this endeavor? They turned out great though, so I am one proud food scientist (hahaha). Thank you, YouTube!

Man, can I just say how much I love this dress? I was so upset because when I got home in the Philippines, I was unpacking and could not find this particular dress. Maybe I had left it our casa in Condesa, no lo sé. I just have a strange emotional attachment to clothes I bring on the road. Especially because I got this dress in New York, and I have brought it around Southeast Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and to Latin America. Ugh…

This was my famous Apple Pie Cobbler. Muchas gracias, Jamie Oliver! I would make this once every here and there, or if there was a guest I was trying to impress (i.e. cute boiz). Ah, I just love feeding people!

One thing I got so hooked on in CDMX was sparkling water and jugo de naranja. It was just like drinking soda but without the added preservatives and without the excessive amount of sugar! Woah, look at healthy Dani in CDMX! Who even am I?!

Along with the countless hours spent in the kitchen were countless scars on my hand from being burnt by the stove or the casseroles, or being cut by a knife. I did not mind though. It was all part of the trade.

Sometimes I would ‘cheat’ and get goodies from different pastilerías. Hahaha! Quite expensive because these were $200 MXN ($9 USD) for a dozen, but they were yummy so…

My CDMX uniform: blank tank top (my mum got me ages ago), gray pants (i got from our hostel’s lost and found), my black gum sole Vans (my mum’s pre-trip gift before i left for africa two years ago), my Ravenclaw tote (i got from cursed child play on broadway), a scarf on my head (from my favourite cdmx boutique), and my Calvin Klein puffer coat (a hand-me-down from my tía).

It rained cats and dogs in CDMX from late October to early November. It even rained during the Día de los Muertos parade. Needless to say, we got soaked, but the party did not end there!

This was the Ángel de la Independencia in Paseo de la Reforma. They were renovating it when I was there so I did not get to see it in its full glory. Maybe next time.

Oh, another favourite place to eat was this little hole in the wall place called Pollos Poncho. They have everything from roasted pollos, pollos al pastor, torta con pollos, salchichas, and even helados (not pollo sabor because that’s weird). I am drooling just thinking about it.

This was Tommy posing for me. I told him he needed a new Tinder profile picture, and he obliged. Hahaha.

One time, I did a shoot with a very cool Méxican fashion blogger in Coyoacán. After the shoot we explored around Frida Kahlo’s hometown and had churros, helados, and we even had lunch at a cantina! It was such a perfect day.

You can check out the full gallery from my shoot in Coayoacán by clicking HERE.

One of my favourite cafés in Coyoacán is called Cafe Negro, and it is a cute little spot where you can just chill when you get tired of walking around the busy neighbourhood.

A cup of coffee was usually $50 MXN ($2.25 USD).

Stopping by every now and then to document my every day life on my journal. I got a cute little sticker from my favourite brewery in Oaxaca called the Oaxaca Brewing Co.

This was another parque in Condesa that I loved going to. It is called Parque España, and it is about five blocks from my casa. It was a bit smaller than Parque México, and it was mainly focused on children. Like there would not be much people playing sports, it would be more like parents playing with their children and their perros. It was very family friendly.

A favourite recipe of mine! Falafel! They are just so easy to make and you do not really need much. I add some beets onto my falafel for extra nutrition, flavour, and colour! Falafels are the perfect travel snack, really. I would buy the garbanzos dried then I would soak them for a night before boiling them for a few hours. We had no food processor nor blender so the beets and the garbanzos needed to be really soft for me to be able to mash them with a fork. What can I say? I like the challenge, heh.

Oh, the dip is just mayonesa with lime juice, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika.

This was just me bothering Tommy as he was trying to finish his Spanish homework. One of my favourite hobbies in CDMX, if I may say so myself…

One of my co-volunteers, Bernardo, trusted me enough to let me shave his head…well, to carve some lines and a heart (?) onto his head. If this was not true friendship, then I do not know what is!

Just a simple egg toast using a sourdough bread from Forte.

Forte is a café in Roma Norte, and my roommate, Kristin, is obsessed with them! They sell a good sourdough loaf for $60 MXN ($2.75 USD), and it would last me a week. They were perfect for avocado and egg toasts! I also usually order a regular iced latte con leche de coco from this spot and they were about $60 MXN ($2.75 USD) también.

Another favourite breakfast combo was papas con chorizo de pavo, huevos, quesillos y limón verde.

Obviously, we have to read our Bibles. Yes, I do carry a Bible on my trips.

Dante just sunbathing and trying to get a tan on our roof top…

Here was Polaroid of Shauna, Theo and I on our roof top. This was taken during New Year’s Eve 2020. Little did we know that we would be welcoming and celebrating a really weird year…

I tried making chicken afritada because I was really missing it so much! It was a success!

This was Volador Café and it was right next to the grocery store where I buy different stuff I cannot buy from the local tianguis. It was good. I just love trying out and discovering new cafés!

My weekly shopping cart.

I distinctly remembered that this pizza was the very first meal I made for my housemates and myself after New Year’s. We forgot to add yeast so it was crunchy, hahaha. Hey, I learned, so it was a good trial piece.

Remember when this was the only Corona we know? Yeah, yo tampoco.

Just waltzing through Polanco. This was the rich neighbourhood of CDMX. Most high-end brands can be found in Polanco, so we were never here, hahaha.

But when I do go to Polanco, I make sure the eat Panda Express…because why not?

Ah, casual rides on the subway…

I also do miss churros and hot chocolate dates with my roommate, Shauna. We love Churrería El Moro so much, we got so obsessed!

This was a common sight in our casa. That night, I baked banana bread using rolled oats for the very first time. It was really yummy, but the bottom was kinda burnt. Again, a really good trial piece. Banana bread plus wine? Sign me up!

Another common sight in our casa: a bunch of international friends just playing shitheads. I feel like shitheads is just a universal game, hahaha. Everybody has their own version of it, and it varies from country to country too. At some point I have adapted different rules from all my other friends, and so I play it by a different rule now. Hahaha! I really do miss these people.

Sometimes I look back upon my life in México, and I realise that some of the best memories of my life were made here. I will forever cherish the time spent cooking in our kitchen, the banters with my housemates, keeping up with [some of the] annoying hostel guests, adopting Dante, and so much more.

México, I cannot wait to come back to you. For now, writing about you and reminiscing would do. Nos vemos muy pronto!

[This is the first part to my Méxican HUJI saga. The second part will be photographs outside of Ciudad de México, from my travels around Puebla, Cholula, Oaxaca de Juárez, San José del Pacífico, Mazunte, and Puerto Escondido.]

I know that this is just a compiled mess, but I loved writing and sharing about mi vida en México so much. Definitely, I place I can see myself living in. Algún día. Tal vez. For now, dreaming of you, México. Dreaming of you.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

1 John 2:6 NIV

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