Some Things I Learned In Mexico

Last week I spent a few days in Mexico City to give a workshop on Transformative Storytelling and to mentor startup founders at the Smart Impact Accelerator. Here are some things that I learned from my visit:

Robot & Skull from my AirBnB
  • Many of the startup concepts from the groups that I mentored were derivative ideas of things that already exist elsewhere, whether they relate to e-commerce, social enterprise, or education. But that’s ok. It’s all about the execution anyway, and how the startups can learn to leverage their specific local knowledge and expertise to make their ventures work here in Mexico.
  • There is a small but scrappy startup scene down here. The Mexican government is also putting money into supporting innovation.
Puppet theatre designed by Frida Kahlo
The Garden at the Frida Kahlo Museum
  • Mexico has a great microbrew beer scene. Fellow startup mentor Blue Thomas and I went to try some at EncervezARTE in the Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City, just a few minutes walk from the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Beers at EncervezARTE
  • A spritz of fresh lime juice makes most things taste better.
  • Atole is a kind of hot beverage made out of corn meal. Atole with chocolate is called “champurrado.” It’s like a thick hot chocolate and it’s delicious. I had some from a street vendor to start my day one morning.
  • I discovered mezcal for the first time, a smoky and complex cousin to tequila. La Chicha in the Roma neighborhood is a great place to try it.
Mezcal de la Casa at La Chicha with a plate of fruit and chiles. Yum!
  • Starbucks is “chic” here and offers valet parking at several of the locations that I saw.
  • I don’t know where I stand on debate about whether El Farolito or El Califa has the better tacos al pastor. Both were really good. El Califa had better tortillas, but I really appreciated the generous cilantro and reddish, almost char siu-like meat at El Farolito.
Taco al pastor @ El Califa
Taco al pastor @ El Farolito
  • If you are in the mood for seafood tacos, El Pescadito is your place.
Poster at El Pescadito
  • I remembered more Spanish from school and college than I thought.
  • The word for “salad dressing” is “aderezo.” This is never came up in high school Spanish class, nor did it come up when I did a college year abroad in Barcelona, where the only salad “dressing” seemed to be olive oil and salt.
  • The word for “raccoon” in Spanish is “mapache,” which derives from the indigenous Nahuatl language of Mexico. I didn’t even know they had raccoons down here.
Raccoon Spirit Animal
  • Apparently they say “departamento” to mean “apartment” here in Mexico, not “apartamento” or “piso.”
  • The word for “locksmith” is “cerrajero.” The doorman at my AirBnb building taught it to me after the old lock on the door of the apartment snapped my key in half, and I ended up locked out.
  • If you are looking for an AirBnb room in Mexico City, I highly recommend Giulia and Diego’s place in Condesa. Finicky lock on the apartment door aside, they are seriously great hosts. The apartment is bright, airy, and clean, and has some great artistic/architectural touches. The Condesa neighborhood is conveniently located.
  • Something in the air here reminds me of my hometown in Arizona. That same something might be the thing giving me hay fever.
  • I will definitely need to come back here again soon.
A flowering tree in Coyoacán