Today was a good day, I woke up ran to a park, did pull-ups next to a reticent man wearing weightlifting gloves, got home, listened to The Moth, showered, had breakfast, finished my work, and spent the rest of the afternoon cooking and talking with the housekeeper. I’ve learned a lot, maybe even more than I wanted to.
I’m in Mexico to work for the Mexican Institute for Social Security (IMSS) on a large scale HPV and cervical cancer study. I moved to el Distrito Federal from Cuernavaca on Monday because the doctor I’m working for has his office in Mexico City. As much as I liked Cuernavaca ‘The City of Eternal Spring’, I was not interested in commuting for three hours a day. It was however, an impressionable place, a colonial town nestled in the mountains low enough to keep the temperatures warm. What they didn’t tell me on Wikipedia was that Morelos, the state that Cuernavaca is in, is one of the most dangerous places in Mexico. This wasn’t always the case, but the war on drugs has changed things here.
After ten days of being cooped up during the evenings, I ignored the warnings about going out at night, and bussed alone down to the square on a Saturday night. I figured that I’m not that bad at not getting killed in foreign countries. The town was a carnival, everyone cooking, selling, playing music, eating, drinking, and dancing. Adjacent to the town square, there was a series of restaurants with patios, and next to one of these patios, people had set up a border of plastic chairs filled with elderly Mexicans watching other elderly Mexicans dance. I was hypnotized. The dancing varied from skilled to shuffling, and it was all beautiful to watch. It’s called Danzon, and I must have stood watching them dance for more than twenty minutes. It felt like my soul was being refilled. Later I walked past a creepy clown show that had attracted a crowd, a girl with a painted face who was selling kisses for 10 pesos, and found myself at series of bars along a side street in front of the Cathedral/fortress. I wasn’t sure what to get, so I asked for a beer in a big glass. The waitress gave me a liter of cold beer the color of molasses. It was cold, went down fine, and. a liter is a big beer, so it made ordering them more convenient.
But that was Cuernavaca and now I’m in Mexico City. The best thing about Mexico City is that I’m finally able to run. There’s a park about a twenty-minute jog from where I’m staying, and it’s covered in trees and running trails. The trails go from single track to fifteen feet wide, and they criss-cross a large foothill to the mountains. Like always, I’m a happier man when I’m able to run. I’m staying with the doctor and his family until I find a place nearby, and he lives in a neighborhood in the South of Mexico City that almost feels like a little town. It’s littered with bourgeois little bars and restaurants that are all reasonably priced. Yesterday was the last day of a four-day fair that wrapped itself around a little square that is two blocks away from our house. From morning until night, it was a miniature version of our own state fair minus the livestock. There was food, rides, stuff to buy, games of chance, and more food. For three straight nights, I left the house at 6:30 or 7:00 pm and grazed on fair food until around 9:00. My favorite eats were a fresh deliciously greasy tamale with chicken and mole, and a thin fried sugary donut thing with cheese filling. It rained two of the nights, but both times I found cover and drank hot café de olla (Mexican Coffee) while watching the water run down the streets.