Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | Mexico City
I’M SITTING IN the spacious rooftop terrace of my hotel. I am the only one up here and I’m enjoying the solitude. I was going to say that I was enjoying the silence, but there is no silence in the big city. In addition to the hum and honks of the traffic and the roaring of airliners above, I can hear birds chirping, and, from six stories down, the sweet sound of an alto saxophone.
And I’m sipping from a paper cup filled with bourbon, water and ice. I know, I know: I should be imbibing on tequila or mescal, being in Mexico and all. I wanted to. I really, really wanted to, but tequila and mescal are not meant to be drunk diluted with water, and I just wasn’t up to drinking straight booze. So bourbon it is, and bourbon is nice.
As happened yesterday, the intense heat of the early afternoon has magically disappeared with the arrival of storm clouds in the western sky (I had to check my iPhone compass app to find that out because I had no idea which way is what). The cool breeze feels good as I listen to the thunder in the distance. I don’t know if it will rain here. If it does, I will have to retreat to my room, which is right next to the terrace, because I don’t know if it is wise to be under the fancy tarp-like roof is designed in a thunderstorm.
I HAVE LONG prided myself, almost to the point of arrogance, at not getting sick in this country, no matter what I eat or drink. For a while this morning I thought my luck had run out. Throughout most of the morning, as I made my way to Colonia Roma, I felt that perhaps my stomach was not reacting too kindly to whatever I had eaten or drunk last night. I blamed it on the ice I had last night, from the hotel ice machine. Luckily, though, by the time I had lunch, those yucky feelings were gone and I felt OK throughout the rest of the afternoon.
IF MY FITBIT machine is correct, I took some 16,500 steps today. (If you doubt it, ask my feet; they are killing me, even after the hot shower.) It would have been a lot more if I hadn’t used the subway twice. I love the Mexico City subway, even if it’s not air-conditioned. I stay away from it during rush hour, though. Too crowded.
I spent most of my time today in the Roma district. Colonia Roma, as it’s officially known, is a chic, tree-lined streets with many stately old homes that remind you of Paris or Washington, DC along Massachusetts Avenue. Lots of sidewalk cafes. There are supposed to be art galleries also but I found only one. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.
On my way to Roma I stopped at the Mercado de Artesanias de la Ciudad. Something I’d read had led me to believe that I might be able to find crafts that aren’t the usual stuff designed for tourists. I didn’t.
I went to Roma because my friend Elena, a Mexicana who has lived in this city and visits often, recommended that I go to the Mercado Roma, which is like a regular market except that they don’t sell tchotchkes. They sell food. It’s an upscale version of the street and mercado food vendors. Everything looked good but I settled for taquitos. I chose rajas (strips of roasted peppers in a cream sauce) and verdolagas (purslane), each served with a bit of rice. Oh, my God! They were heavenly.
(An American couple just came up. From Florida. They sound Texan. They came up to smoke. I was getting ready to be upset but they’ve installed themselves way on the other side of the terrace so their smoke should not bother me. The woman commented that she wished they had a bar up here. Nice guy that I am, I asked if they liked bourbon. Jack and Coke every once in a while, she said, but she’s a beer gal. Fuck ‘em.)
THE RAIN HAS come and the lightning is too close for comfort, so I’ve moved inside. I think I’ll take a nap. I’d love to head back to Roma to try one of the cafes I saw but it’s too far, so I’ll have to settle for something closer.