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Mexico City

We flew in the afternoon from Lima to Mexico City, but the flight takes six hours, so we didn’t arrive until almost midnight, we got to our hotel in the centre around 1am and just went to sleep ready to explore the city for the next few days.

Our first day, we got up and I was excited to try the street tacos and show Stac some of the Mexican food, Mexico city is a fantastic city, full of food, music and activity. It didn’t take more than five minutes of walking before we found our first amazingly tasty and spicy street food tacos, they were epic.

Later on, we ate a full set menu lunch with Chicken Mole, soups, drinks etc for just a few pounds each, the Mexican food might not be the healthiest, but its some of the tastiest food in the world. Washed down with an ice-cold beer for £1, it’s perfect.

The day we left Lima, I had seen on the internet that the Formula 1 was on in Mexico City this weekend and that Lewis Hamilton had the chance to win the championship, we both looked at tickets for the race but they were several hundred pounds each. On our first day in the city we looked again at tickets and found some for the Friday practice day for less than £10, we both were interested to go and see it, so we booked the tickets, and on the next day we were heading to the Autodromo ready to see our first ever Formula 1 session.

The cars are louder than I ever imagined, and you see them for even less time than I ever imagined, considering we were at the end of a straight where they pass you at 210 mph, you don’t even have chance to see the driver, it’s more of a loud blur that passes.

It was a great morning, but it was extremely hot, with little shade, so we decided not to hang around for the afternoon, we would have loved to go to the race, and Lewis Hamilton won the championship there, so I know the atmosphere would have been incredible, but tickets just weren’t affordable, maybe another time.

A couple of months before today, we were sat in a restaurant in Bariloche, Argentina, the same restaurant where we ate the best steak of our lives, and got talking to a couple from Barcelona. They were currently living in Mexico city, they had told us they had children a similar age to us, who had also travelled like we are doing, and offered for us to go and stay in their house with them in Mexico.

They weren’t going to be there when we arrived so we stayed in a hotel in the centre of the city for the first three nights before going down to their house for our last couple of days. Their house was in what is probably the nicest neighbourhood in all of Mexico, a district called San Angel, with cobble streets, pretty plazas and a Saturday market attended by rich locals and tourists alike.

We got to their house on the Saturday morning and they took us around the market, we looked around the different areas then stopped in a food court with them and ate some tapas with a couple of beers for lunch, there’s no doubting we like the Catalan cross with Mexican way of life.

Something I haven’t mentioned yet, is one of the reasons for timing this part of the trip in this way, was because at the start of November, Mexico holds the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, a festival where they celebrate the dead and offer gifts to deceased relatives and friends.

It’s a private family festival in the most part, but it was brought to the screens of the world by a James Bond film, where he attended the huge parade of Mexico City for the Day of the Dead. In truth, this parade never actually existed, but the Mexican government realised this could attract locals and tourists together to celebrate and this was the second year in which this parade would take place, copying what was depicted in the film, a strange scenario really.

On the Saturday afternoon we headed back to the city to try to find the parade which was luckily on whilst we were here, and it wasn’t difficult to find, it ran all the way along the huge Avenida Reforma, to the main city square, the Zocalo, for around six or seven kilometres. The amount of people lined up to watch this parade was unimaginable, the parade went on for miles, with thousands of performers, the tourists and locals gathered to watch in what felt like the millions.

We went to a street party in Rio de Janeiro at Carnaval, a couple of years ago, that is famed for being the biggest party in the world, somewhere close to 2 million people attend that, this didn’t feel too different.

By the time we had followed the parade for the first two or three kilometres, it was becoming difficult to walk further because of the crowds, we hadn’t even made it half way to the central square where the parade culminates when we were in the middle of a crowd of people who had nowhere to go and pushing had taken over, we decided at that point we had no way of going any further and moved away on to a quieter back street.

Mexico City is a city of 20 million people, and on the parade day, it felt like that, I’ve never seen a busier city. The parade was exciting, fun, and crazy, everybody was loving it, locals, tourists, children, adults, it didn’t matter, it was a great celebration, and something the Mexicans are rightly proud of.

That night we went back to Lluis and Maribela’s house, ate some fantastic food with them that they prepared, all Catalan food, our favourite, we drank some wine and tequila and reflected on what an incredible city this is, absolutely one of our favourite places and a place I don’t think we’d get bored with if we spent a month here.

Our final day, the Sunday, was a little quieter, we watched the Formula 1 in a bar, explored a couple more districts of the city and then ate another incredible meal with Lluis and Maribela again, we’d only been in Mexico for four full days and loved it already.

It was amazing to stay in their house for the weekend with them and we now consider that we have two more new great friends, they were so kind to us, prepared us food with them, even washed our clothes for us and showed us the best of the city. Travelling is all about amazing people like these, and even though Maribela didn’t speak much English and my Spanish is simple at best, they couldn’t have been nicer to us.

We can’t believe how many people have said to us in the last couple of months that they think Mexico is dangerous to travel too, most have never been to Mexico City, or anywhere in Mexico outside a tourist resort, but the general consensus is that people are worried to travel here.

We were told by Lluis to be careful, and of course don’t walk around on quiet streets at night, but we wouldn’t do that in almost any city, definitely not here, but we stayed in the city centre for the first three days, ate in locals restaurants and drank in bars with locals every day until late, and walked all over the city during the day. Almost every person here seems to be friendly, welcoming, nice people who enjoy living in this amazing country.

There are definitely bad people, like there are everywhere, but it is such a shame that Mexico gets tarred as dangerous by the majority of people, or maybe it’s better that way because, for now, here, it still seemed authentic.

Now we are flying to the east coast, to Cancun, then we’re going to pick up a car and drive around the three eastern provinces of Mexico, Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche, and we can’t wait…

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