“So what did you actually do on this trip?”
Recounting what I actually did on the trip. Many pictures ahead.
I’ve come back to Boston, to work — and to winter, and the delightful 2-week Mex-Tex adventure is in the rear view mirror. There’s a dog to feed, a regular training schedule to observe, and my work station is no longer a clean, compact hotel desk but a cluttered artist’s corner of tchotchkes and pens and notebooks.
When most of the coworkers and training partners who knew about the trip ask me, “How was Mexico?” and “How was the competition?” I keep it short since I figure most are being polite and making small talk. I don’t assume that people want to know more unless specifically asked, and I don’t tend to write a ton about “here’s what I did” because that can be boring — it reads more like a ledger than a story. My boyfriend, who tends to give me some of the best writing feedback, often says I rely too much on exposition and not enough of feeling, so most of my writing avoids a pure recounting of events without shaping them into something a little more thoughtful. His feedback on this newsletter? “I still don’t know what you did all day on this trip.”
This post seeks to acknowledge his feedback, on one hand, but is a nod to a few other things as well:
- Reminding myself that this basic block of information — what I did all day on the trip — is more entertaining than it usually would be to an audience of readers. It provides the most wanderlust/escapism/hope that everyone has been hungering for in this year of COVID curfews, stay-at-home orders, shelters-in-place, quarantines, and lockdowns.
- Writing down what I did is worthwhile, if for no other reason than to remember and remind myself from time to time that my current life and routine isn’t necessarily the way my life and routine must always be: things don’t always need to be structured in order to be good, there’s magic in improvisation, deadlines are only as real as you make them, and resting is okay.
Part 1 of the Trip: Mexico
What my schedule tended to look like on any given day, outside of the highlights above, roughly from morning to night
- Getting my (non-alcoholic) drink on: Picking up some form of caffeinated beverage from either Ojo de Agua, Tierra Garat, or Quentin Cafe in the morning, afternoon, or both, and admiring the dogs at Parque Mexico
- Morning training session: These were held at Top Brother Mexico from 10AM-12PM, including about an hour of warm-ups/drilling and the remainder of time open mat/rolling.
- Post-training, daytime: Trying a new flavor of electrolyte beverage from OXXO. Going for lunch or coffee with Margot and Meg or eating something back in my apartment and resting.
- Evening training session: This would occur at either Bujutsu from 6–8PM or with ‘The Wolfpack” from 8–10PM. “The Wolfpack” was a blend of folks from Top Brother and one or two other gyms and their training sessions were held in a secret location with a room full of mats that allowed up to 3 pairs of people to spar at once. It felt very “Fight Club,” given that Mexico City’s gyms are supposed to close at 7PM on account of COVID curfews.
- Post-training, evening: Trying to rest and process all the jiu-jitsu learnings from the training sessions of the day. Forcing myself to watch back and take notes on recordings of rolls from the day or from previous competitions.
In addition to this relatively-typical day of activities, I’d also spend time
- Walking, a lot and to everywhere I could: to Meg and Margot’s for extra drilling sessions, to places with highly-recommended tacos and coffee and chilaquiles, to the training facilities, to grocery and convenience stores, and to Hermes Gym (where I spent less time lifting and more time melting over the owner’s many chihuahuas and dachshunds)
- Correspondence, whenever time allowed: Checking emails and DMs, drafting blog posts, and trying to post fun ‘Close Friends’ stories for those who opted into updated about the trip. Honestly, I had hoped I’d be able to journal or blog for an hour a day while on the trip and recount everything I did in a more faithful and real-time way. When training sessions ended at 10pm and I got home, showered, ate, and settled by 10:30–11:30 pm, I was typically too tired to do anything else unless I wanted to crank out a midnight post — which I did do once or twice on the trip.
Outside of the usual, flexible schedule of things, some standout moments included:
- Visiting the ruins of Teotihuacan on Thanksgiving Day
- Seeking out small bookstore cafés reminiscent of my favorite ones in Boston.
- Getting a full, delicious taco meal for $7 USD at Taquería Álvaro Obregón (pictured below)
- Getting a spontaneous massage at Vitali, an awesome hideaway wellness center in Condesa (pictured below).
- Going to a ‘Sound Meditation’ that was hosted by a friend of Meg’s
- Having a lot of ‘me’ time to reflect and be alone with myself in the city and in nature
Part 2 of the Trip: Texas
Texas was a less packed experience than Mexico for three key reasons
- We were within days of the tournament and looking to taper and rest rather than train more or travel around.
- Most of my time in Mexico was taken as vacation — most of my time in Texas was technically “working from home — away from home.” So I had a lot of work to do and meetings to attend (many of which I had attempted to postpone while in Mexico).
- The venue of the tournament was suddenly moved to a very suburban area with much less to do than downtown Dallas or Fort Worth.
Because of this, any given day of activities was a lot tamer and less exciting in Texas than any given day in Mexico.
Like many of the people who traveled to Dallas to compete, I thought I’d be spending a little more time getting to explore Deep Ellum and other areas of the city, but because the tournament venue changed, that threw a wrench in plans for a visit to the art museum, a barbecue restaurant or two, and a visit to a second gym in the area. Still there were some highlights:
- Stumbling on a beautiful park memorial exhibit, where you could write a message to a sick, suffering, or lost loved one and tie it to a wall.
- Visiting my first infrared sauna, which would let you watch Netflix or listen to Spotify inside — as well as change the colors. I had a lot of fun at the sauna, but it’s more fun to sit in a sauna when you don’t have to cut weight for a competition than when you do. (This time, I did not have to cut weight.)
- Learning how to make myself at home.
- Learning how to make myself at home again.
- Having a fantastic cup of coffee with outstanding service and recommendations for recreation in Dallas, TX
- Going on walks and drives for groceries at places including but not limited to QuikTrip, 7–11, Target, and, multiple Whole Foods Markets.
- Having my first In-N-Out and second Chik-fil-A
- Coming home with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, great memories, one medal (more on that later), and a few bottles of tequila.
I hope you enjoyed this more visual, tactical recap of what I did in a few comics, pictures, and written nutshells. I may have made it home, but there are still a few more newsletters in the works that I’m excited about and aiming to share by the end of the year.
In the meantime, stay warm, stay clean, and thanks again for reading!