First Impressions | Mexico City

Starting to get all warm and fuzzy…

Month 12 began in typical Kaizen fashion: taking over an airport lounge in Bogotá while wearing the most obnoxious outfits we own and playing thunderstruck at an almost assuredly inappropriate volume. We basically took over this poor lounge like we owned the place. No, seriously. At one point I stopped to look around and observe what was going on and there were like 30 of us casually dispersed throughout the lounge, hanging out around the kitchen area like we were at one of our apartments. It was amazing and our fellow patrons probably hated us.

This transition day was special. It was our last one of the year, and most of the group was there for it — something that was increasingly rare for us given our penchant for side trips and deviations. But as the year gets closer to the end, people tend to not move around as much, hoping to get as much time as possible with these people who have become family over the past 11 months.

I was really looking forward to Month 12 because (1) I’ve heard Mexico City is incredible, (2) all of our favorite people— Kaizens who had to leave the program early, our favorite RY Staff members (sans a certain individual who broke Kaizen’s collective heart by not visiting and will remain nameless… 😉🍕), and some honorary Kaizens who joined us as Citizens in Asia — were going to be there, and (3) tacos.

In fact, I went into this month breaking my own personal cardinal rule of keeping expectations low at all times.

Despite my irregularly high expectations going into Month 12, Mexico City has somehow already blown them out of the water.

First impressions of Mexico City

Let’s get this out of the way…

me walking around cdmx after about two hours of being there

Guys, this place is ridiculously amazing.

  • The weather is a perfect 75 degrees most days, making it the best weather we’ve had all year IMO.
  • The neighborhoods that we live and work in, La Condesa and Roma, are beautiful, colorful, have tons of great cafes to work from, and have some of the most beautiful parks (great for Pokémon Go, btw).
  • Things are so affordable here ($5 for an Aperol Spritz and $2 for cold brew — ya kiddin’ me?!).
  • The food — both street and restaurant — is fking delicious. It’s to the point where I want to plan every meal carefully so that I don’t waste a meal opportunity on something subpar.
  • This has probably been the healthiest month I’ve had to date, which feels somewhat counterintuitive. Thanks to the nice gym I’ve been going to + the spin classes that Milena and Pau have got me hooked on, I actually am feeling really great.
  • All of my guiltiest millennial nonsense pleasures are in abundance — yoga classes, smoothie bowls, cold brew everywhere, etc. I’m basically Nancy Botwin (minus the pigtails) walking around CDMX everyday, sipping from my cold brew + almond milk para llevar. So obnoxious, so delicious.

Dare I say that this is the most livable city that we’ve been to?

You know what? I do dare.

This is 100% the most livable city that we’ve been to. I could live here for 6+ months easy.

The Final Month

We are a couple weeks into our final month and I’m still not freaking out…yet. Although that might change soon now that we’ve only got two weeks left.

Right now my priorities are to spend as much time as possible with as many people as possible. I’m still exploring the city a little bit, but I will choose a lunch with a Kaizen over a city walking tour 10/10 times. After all, Mexico City isn’t going anywhere (well, I guess it is going somewhere — it’s sinking 2 cm a year or something like that).

It still doesn’t feel real that this is coming to a close. I don’t feel pressured to have things figured out yet, which is welcomed. I’m not overly concerned about life Post-RY because I’m actually excited about a lot of things that I’ve got semi-planned. Also, I know this is not going to be the last time I see these people — although it will be the last time we’re probably all together like this, which makes my stomach drop a little bit when I think about it like that.

Month 12 inherently has the reputation for being a potentially somber and challenging month for people. In an interesting twist, it has been one of my favorites so far. This month, for me, has been one of appreciation and nostalgia. We reminisce on our adventures and favorite memories up to this point, which seem so long ago but also so vivid at the same time. It gives me an appreciation for this incredible journey when I think about all of the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done to date. It all kind of feels impossible that it actually happened.

I tend to normalize this experience having been doing it for so long, but I sometimes have to remind myself that this is not the norm and it was a decently crazy thing to do. We took a risk when we paid that $5K deposit and decided to sell most of our things to travel with a bunch of strangers for a year. All of us had different reasons for taking the leap, but I think there is some sort of underlying commonality to it all. We all are just the right amount of insane for doing it, which I think bonds us together, even when things aren’t going our way or we’re not getting along.

Almost a year later, it’s really hard to picture life without these people. I’m thankful that despite our 12 months almost being over, I won’t have to picture a life without them because they’re always going to be in it (whether they want to be or not 😈).

Now it’s time to peace out because I’ve been writing this in my apartment alone and it’s been three hours since I last hugged a Kaizen, which is far too long.