For nearly a year and a half I had dreamt of towering cathedrals, colorful canals, murals that spanned not just one wall but three, a little blue house, and pyramids. More than anything, the pyramids. I dreamt of Mexico City. A strange dream on most accounts, for anyone who reads the newspaper or sees the gruesome (and frankly rather unflattering) headlines on their internet homepages is generally scared stiff by the utterance of the name of the doomed metropolis. I, however, was completely tantalized by it. With the impending loss of our Delta Skymiles as my secret weapon in the face of adversity, I begged, pleaded, even enlisted the help of my wonderful Spanish teacher to convince my parents of the great joys and triumphs we would discover in Mexico City. And you know what? It worked. So July 2, 2011, nearly 18 months after the first subtle mention of my all-consuming need for Mexico’s Distrito Federal, my bags were packed and my dreams were coming true.
It bears noting that my parents and I are not crazy thrill seekers. Our past vacations have been tame destinations like Rome and London. Really touristy places, where my father could freely parade around in a tropical-patterned shirt without too much fear of judgment. This, however, was different. It was our biggest adventure, and I planned nearly all of it. The information from Arthur Frommer’s Mexico and DK Guidebooks’s Top 10 Mexico City was safely memorized and categorized in my blonde little head, and as I watched the plane icon inch ever closer to DF on the moving map in our Delta jet, I felt as if everything was about the change.
It did, though not all at once. It was the small things, like all of a sudden being the decision-maker while my parents sat back, drank some vino blanco from the nearest farmacia, and said “okay honey, as long as you know how to get there.” Believe me, I did. I could draw you a map of Mexico City from memory. Also, as the only Spanish speaker in our outfit, I spoke, listened, and translated for my linguistically-challenged parents, who forked over pesos when necessary and smiled and nodded blankly at the speaker. I did the negotiating, with my parents shuffling along behind like shy preschoolers. It’s ridiculous, but those four and a half years of verb conjugations and vocabulary tests were not in vain. I was using Spanish! Even crazier than that, people understood me! It gave me such confidence! If I could walk into a pharmacy with my dad and negotiate a prescription for him for the right antibiotic IN SPANISH, what was stopping me from doing just about anything?
That, my friends, is the question that Mexico City answered for me. As I stood atop la Pirámide del Sol on our last day, looking out beyond the vast megalopolis to the surrounding mountains and the sapphire sky (which, by the way, hadn’t a hint of the famed yellow haze that day), I knew, there where the emperors of Teotihuacan had ruled great nations, that my dream had come true. This was only the beginning. Nothing is stopping me now from anything. I didn’t just “survive” Mexico City, I lived it. It changed me. And as I headed home, watching the plane icon inch away from the city of my dreams, I didn’t want to be leaving.
So there, I said it, Mexico City. Shaking in your boots yet? Thinking I must be crazy? I’m not. I’m just filled with “el espíritu de aventura.” The spirit of adventure.
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