Back That Month Up | Mexico City
The End…sort of
Month 12 was noticeably paradoxical for me.
As a Remote approaching your final month, there are so many thoughts and questions racing through your mind — lots of which can leave you feeling a little anxious.
Holy shit, how is it Month TWELVE already?!
How am I expected to just “go back” to my old life?
Is it going to feel like it was all a dream?
There is no way I’m going to be able to handle all of those goodbyes.
I have to go back to working in [dry heaves] an office?!
You’d expect it to be a reflective, emotional, and draining four weeks as everyone scrambles to figure out wtf they’re doing with their lives and say their goodbye-for-nows.
And while, yes, March was full of all of the above in some shape or form, it was overshadowed, in my opinion, by the paradoxical sense of balance that I was able to find.
[Alright, tbh I can’t tell if I’m using it correctly anymore, but imma roll with it regardless because it sounds real nice like]
It was both jam-packed and chill.
It was both boozy and active.
It was both emotionally draining at times and energizing asf.
It was spent with my favorite people I’ve met throughout the entire year and fresh faces that I’m glad I got to meet before the year was over.
There was a balance to this month that I’ve been trying — and mostly failing — to find throughout the previous eleven, and it felt damn good.
I never would have guessed that our last month would have been one of my favorites, but I also never would have guessed that I would have traveled around the world for a year, so clearly I’m an idiot who cannot be trusted to know what’s good for himself.
The People. The People. The People.
No, I’m not trying to be Remote Year’s Bo Schembechler (although I’d make a great one).
The people are what Remote Year is all about by the end, folks. Well, it’s about the people pretty much the whole year, but you just don’t realize how much so until the number of days you have left with these strangers-turned-family-members that you’ve spent every day with for the past year approaches the single digits.
It was a month full of the usual suspects of Kaizen, three returning Kaizens who had to leave us far too early in the year, an amazing CDMX City Team, a handful of our favorite Citizens, some of our favorite recurring RY Staff members (shoutout to Rosé who surprised us all and made the cross-continental trip from Cape Town to CDMX despite the callout in my previous post…oopsies!), and tons of RY Staff that had never met Kaizen before.
Mexico City is so fking livable that it makes me want to pull a Craig.
I kid, I kid.
But I do stand by what I wrote in my earlier post — I could (and want to) live here someday.
I say this despite the fact that I did almost zero planned exploring of the city’s main attractions the entire month.
Frida Kahlo? Diego Rivera? Never heard of ‘em.
By Month 12 I just wanted to chill out, not make any extra plans outside of what had been planned by RY (which was a lot), and just live and drink cold brew and go to spin class (#embraceyourbasic).
Mexico City was perfect for this.
Now, for a lot of people who haven’t been to CDMX before, the name Mexico City tends to conjure up unsavory images related to crime or lack of safety. While I am sure there are plenty of places where you can get yourself into trouble if you’re not careful, the neighborhoods we lived and worked in not only felt safe, they were fking pleasant.
Early in the month, I was on a call with my mom and she asked about whether or not I felt safe — after all, this was the city that had her most anxious on our itinerary. I responded that yes, I feel very safe and reminded her that at that very moment, there was a lunatic running around leaving bombs in packages on peoples’ doorsteps in Austin, all to point out that bad stuff can happen anywhere.
So the next time you hear someone mention Mexico City, instead of giving into whatever image you’ve been conditioned to think of, I want you to picture something different.
Picture a place with lush parks and tree coverage along every path — including beautiful jacaranda trees whose purple petals decorate the sidewalks below them as they fall.
Picture a place with food ranging from the most delicious $1.00 street tacos to some of the most highly rated food in the world.
Picture a place with friendly locals who are patient with you as you fumble your way through your Spanglish.
Picture a place with a great mix of authenticity as well as more modern, homey comforts that make the city so livable.
Picture a place where the tequila is smokey and is served with yummy crickets and oranges.
Picture a place where cold brew is, like, two bucks.
That is what I picture when I think about Mexico City and I can’t wait to go back.
Now what are you waiting for? Go book a damn plane ticket already!
ALL OF THE THINGS
We did so much ridiculously cool shit this month that I don’t understand how we had time for it all. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t side trip... who knew?
- Dined and drank (a lot) at Pujol, which is considered one of the top 20 restaurants in the world (still prefer a $3 kebab, but worth it for the experience)
- Attended a Lucha Libre match
- Rode hot air balloons over the pyramids of Teotihuacán and then climbed to the top of them afterwards
- Went to see Luis Fonsi in concert where he performed Despacito three glorious times
- Connected with our inner animal at a temazcal sweat lodge
- Wandered through Mercado Sonora where we almost bought a baby goat (to be fair, we would have been saving it from a ritual sacrifice…)
- Went to an EDM concert that doubled as an award show (?) and got to see Robin Schulz, Cheat Codes, and Jax Jones
- Rode the trajineras (boats) and drank obscenely large micheladas in Xochimilco
- Went sky diving for the first time in my life
- There was even a Kaizen ENGAGEMENT!
Coming full circle
Lots of things came full circle this month which felt like a nice little way to tie up the year.
- By some unexplainable happenstance, the artists that perform the two songs that are essentially Kaizen’s soundtrack to this year, Jax Jones’ You Don’t Know Me and Luis Fonsi’s Despacito, both performed in CDMX within a week of each other. We obviously went to both shows.
- All of our favorite people from throughout the year — including Kaizens, Citizens, and Staff — all reunited with us at some point throughout the month.
- The one and only Jonathan Lipnicki aka JLips even made a guest appearance — both in cardboard cutout form and in the form of a personalized video that he sent us (lolz). Last we heard from JLips, his badly damaged cardboard self was “accidentally” left in the overhead compartment of a plane in Germany during a layover on our way to Sofia. He has since been reborn and the actual JLips even posted an Instagram with Zachdad and yours truly in it 😂.
- In Month 1, Jess and Aimee hosted an infamous night known only as “Wine and Cheese Night.” We had never attempted a follow up until one of our last weeks this month. It lived up to the precedent set back in Split.
Finishing what I started
Before I started Remote Year, I had one ambiguous goal for myself, and that was to pick up a creative hobby.
I’ve always felt like I was a pretty creative kid growing up, but somewhere along the way I kind of just stopped doing creative things and got myself sucked into the corporate world where I lived for my two baes: Netflix and the weekend.
I wanted to try my hand at a bunch of different creative things — video editing, graphic design, and, of course, blogging. Lolz @ me for thinking I would consistently have time for one, let alone all three, but I ended up choosing blogging — despite the fact that I had not written anything creatively since freshman year of college.
I had read and learned so much from reading Remotes’ blogs before my year started that I wanted to do my part to provide some #content for others going through this process, too. I also thought that it would be a really great way to look back on the year once it was over.
Now, writing my 32nd (!!) blog post, I can confidently say that I’ve succeeded in both areas. I’ve had Premotes and current Remotes reach out about how some of my blogs have helped them and within just five days of being a Citizen, I have read through no less than six BTMU posts to reaffirm myself that this wasn’t all a dream.
Despite the amount of time that it takes to write and choose the pictures, it’s pretty sad to be writing my last BTMU post. However, now that I am done, I am so happy I started it and stuck with it.
This, unfortunately, is not where I impart my reflection on the year and share all of the sage advice gained from traveling the world for a year. Nope. That will be coming soon, though.
This post is about Mexico City and how Month 12 became one of my favorite months of the year — which is something I never would have expected to have happened.
I will say, however, that I am ending Remote Year with more questions — questions about the direction I want to take my life, what I want to do, what kind of lifestyle I want to be living, etc.— than when I started.
Remote Year opens your eyes to an entirely different way of living life that, if you’re like me, you didn’t even know existed.
While I’ve never had more freedom than during Remote Year, I feel like I have even more freedom now that it’s over.
It’s a different kind of freedom, though. Instead of the freedom of schedule and planning your days like we had during the year, this is almost the mental freedom of knowing what is out there and what is possible and what you can do, should you choose to pursue it.
Only this time, there are no Program Leaders or City Team members to tell you what you should be doing. It’s all on you to figure out what to do with it.
Looking back, I think that’s why I never got overly emotional or panicky during Month 12. I shed some tears as we all started to file into our airport shuttles on our last day, but other than that, I never hit full on panic mode about the year being over.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, Month 12 was a freaking paradox!
It was both The End and also The Beginning.
The Beginning of what exactly? I’m not sure yet, but I’m really excited to find out.
Salud, México y salud, Remote Year!
Props to Zachdad (IG: @zach_boyette) and Buenos (IG: @icrowe) for some of the 🔥 pics