I’m moving to Mexico City
Okay, truthfully it’s a short term move. I was feeling restless and needed a change. And while I looked at places in San Diego and Chicago, I ultimately decided I wasn’t thinking big enough. At the end of October I’ll be headed to our southern neighbor’s capital to pick up where I left off with my Spanish learning, hopefully mastering those tenses, conjugations, and masculine/feminine words that have been slowly evaporating from my brain ever since I left Colombia.
I’ve booked an apartment through the end of January, meaning I’ll get to spend Dia de los Muertos—Day of the Dead, New Years, and my birthday in my new city. If I love it I’ll stay longer. If I don’t I’ll figure something else out.
Breaking the news to my family and friends was interesting because my friends all said “I’m excited for you” and “When can I visit?” and my family members all did their best to bite their tongues and not say aloud the scary thoughts running through their minds. It wouldn’t stop me from leaving, after all. Whether excited friends or nervous family members or intrigued co-workers, when I tell people what I’m doing, inevitably there are questions. So here it is: The Who, When, Where and most importantly WHY of my next big adventure. Read on if you care, and feel free to send good-luck vibes my way.
I tried so, so hard with my Spanish in Colombia. I only listened to Latin music, started watching a very cheesey show on YouTube, and spoke to my last host only en Español. It was so much mental labor, but the results made me tingle. Those moments when I got it—when I pieced together a difficult sentence, in the appropriate tense, with indirect objects thrown in? Magical!
And when I first came home I was really good about keeping up with the studying, the practicing. Listening to my podcasts, brushing up on vocab with Quizlet, reading in-flight announcements from the Spanish PA book. Somewhere along the way, when I found myself busy with blogging and accounting classes and a breakup and working like mad to replenish my bank account, chiseled down in the month-and-a-half out of country, I started slacking. I practiced with less frequency, and then rarely at all. I forgot the difficult things first and then some of the easier ones. They say if you don’t use it you lose it, (In the 40-year old virgin, anyway) and sad to say I’m losing it. So, I’m going back for what I’ve lost. And then some.
2. Why Mexico City?
The reason I chose Mexico City over Medellin, or any other Spanish speaking destination, is a simple one: the flight schedule. There is a direct flight daily out of Boston. So I won’t even have to transfer bases. And if I don’t get on that one flight for whatever reason (no open seats, cancellations, etc.) there are SIX direct daily to JFK. A quick connecting flight from New York isn’t the worst plan B.
I’ve never been to Mexico City. Never spent any time in Mexico, as a matter of fact. But I’ve heard wonderful things and have received some great recommendations from travelers I know. I’m looking forward to jumping in to the unknown. To getting to know this new city. To being a complete stranger in a new place. And hopefully feeling like an almost-local by the time I leave.
Looking forward to learning about Mexico City's vibrant culture and art scene.
3. Where and When?
I’ll be staying in La Condesa, a neighborhood of tree-lined streets, hipster boutiques and restaurants galore, according to the other blogs I’ve tapped for info. I’ll be residing across the street from Bosque du Chapultepec, a park within CDMX that dwarfs New York’s Central and is known as the city’s lungs. By all accounts it’s a lovely place to be; close to el Centro, safe and charming. Of course I’ll have to be the judge myself, and I will be sure to let you all know. Very much hoping my new ‘hood lives up to the hype.
I’m leaving Boston October 27 and have my apartment booked until January 31. I originally wanted to stay longer, for six months maybe, but figured I should at least stop by the city before making such long-term plans. I booked the apartment through Airbnb, and the while the reviews were great, and I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to love it, I felt that three months was about as much as I could commit to before actually seeing the place in person. My timeline after January 31 is up in the air, as always. I have no plans on where I’ll live or what I’ll be doing. And it’s still very possible that I’ll fall in love (with the city) and extend my stay for longer. Or maybe I’ll move on to another Spanish speaking destination, or maybe I’ll come back to Boston and buy a house and settle down like a normal person. (I hear you laughing, but anything is possible right?)
4. How can you afford to take three months off work?
Funny story: I can’t.
When I went to Colombia I was fortunate to have enough PTO to take the full month of March off of work paid. The flexibility inherent in my job allowed me to simply arrange my schedule to have time off at the end of February and in the beginning of April. Giving me a full seven weeks to kick it in South America without having to ask permission, take leave, worry about money, forfeit benefits, etc. It was incredible and it gave me a new appreciation of how precious that PTO can be if used strategically.
But that was a month and a half, and this will be a minimum of three.
While I’d love to go gallivanting around the world, never working a day in my life, the reality of the situation is I need to make the money, and keep the flight benefits that allow me to live this life that I love.
Mama’s got to work.
One of the (many) amazing things about my job is the ability to live anywhere in the world. While I’m shacking up in Mexico City I’m going to be “commuting” to work in Boston. Don’t worry folks, this won’t be an everyday occurrence like your drive through rush hour. The plan is to stack all my trips together so that I can fly into Boston once per month, work all my hours in 14 days, then fly back to MEX and have 2-3 weeks there at a time. This is how a lot of flight attendants arrange their schedules. People who live out of state, away from base, often do this to avoid flying back and forth all the time, wasting their days off in airports and airplanes getting to and from work. So why not me? Why not to Mexico?
Full disclosure here; I’ve never been a commuter. I know work-life balance is about to get a lot trickier and I hope I can mentally prepare myself for the added stress of catching (space available) flights to make my way to work. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. And to the change.
Being “careful” doesn’t mean being afraid. And it doesn’t mean
waiting for someone to do what you want.
5. Are you going with anyone?
Nope. And the follow up question of whether I’m nervous or scared to go alone is a hard “No.”
It’s been five years since I lived by myself. For three years I shared an apartment and life partnership with somebody, and for the last two I’ve lived with family members. People are great. But really, being completely alone—and better yet, anonymous in a new city—sounds like the most decadent treat. I’m salivating thinking about it as I type.
People tell you to be careful, as a woman traveling alone. And indeed, having a vagina adds an extra annoying layer of things to consider when on the road. But being “careful” for me means being smart, being savvy, and aware. But it doesn’t mean being afraid and it doesn’t mean waiting for someone else to do what you want to do. Going to Colombia by myself last Spring felt so empowering. Beyond the very basic exploration of traveling solo, there was overcoming a language barrier, navigating a foreign city, and facing those new-kid-in-class jitters—all difficult, but invigorating feats for me. The hardest things are always the most worthwhile.
And so, the nervous energy that will inevitably arise as the day draws nearer will be taken for what it is: My body getting ready for something exciting. And big. I’m looking forward to that tingling uneasiness, and also very much to taking it on, and eventually feeling it subside.
It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m leaving, despite the date being less than three weeks away. Perhaps I’ll feel it packing, or maybe on the plane ride there. I haven’t signed up for Spanish classes yet, nor found a “crash pad” (apartment by the airport where I will rent a bed and sleep in between work trips.) But this lack of organization is a hallmark of my lifestyle, and the short timeline doesn’t worry me. I may be under-prepared, but I’m more than ready.
Stay tuned for more posts about my big adventure. If you’ve got Mexico City recommendations, please send them my way. And, of course, thanks for reading!