Our resident photographer, Jonathan Chu took a trip to Mexico City and has the photos to prove it! Mexico City exists at the intersection of historical architecture and modern design, with bold colors and patterns found at every corner. Check out Jonathan’s essay and photos below!
I had no preconceptions of Mexico City.
And besides a comprehensive list of over 300 restaurants that I was gifted by a freelance food writing friend, I had done no research on what to do or where to go. I’d arbitrarily booked an Airbnb in a neighborhood I thought I’d heard of but I arrived at the airport without knowing exactly where it was or how to get there. But, as it turns out, Mexico City is very well equipped to handle tourists in 2017. That’s not to say some neighborhoods aren’t more dangerous than others (as with any city) or that you shouldn’t try and avoid certain foods that could potentially make you sick, or that you should ignore the slew of other blanket warnings ascribed to all tourist destinations, but, with all that in mind, I found myself casually navigating Mexico City like I would my home, Los Angeles, my adopted home, New York City, or any other city I’ve ever felt comfortable in.
As each day passed, I felt more and more that this is how Mexico City should be experienced. Plans are the eternal enemy in Mexico, and the sooner you can embrace this aspect of Mexican society the more enjoyable your experience will be. I would generally start the day with one destination in mind, but after that all potential plans fell by the wayside. My most enjoyable experiences were those I least expected, or knew much about before visiting. To name a few – Luis Barragan’s horse ranch, Cuadra San Cristobal, or an incredible meal at Nicos in Azcapotzalco (this was recommended shortly before I was sitting down at the restaurant, and it turned out to be the best meal of the trip (of my life?)), or the impressive Museo Soumaya (granted, I should’ve known about this one before).
More than tourist destinations though, I was guided by my camera. The colors, the forms, and the people were what really dictated my movements through the city. I ended up in small neighborhoods, at shops that were clearly struggling financially, but bathed in bright pinks and pastel yellows, radiating a jubilation of a kind that I haven’t encountered in many parts of the world. And if it wasn’t my camera controlling me, it was my nose. I have a soft spot for the culinary world of Japan, but this may have rivaled it in its breadth and greatness. Man oh man I could go into it, but it would be too much to talk about in such limited space.But, in short, go. I feel it’s especially important in this time of aggressive political rhetoric to connect with people, especially people on the receiving end of said rhetoric. Even more so because in my brief time in Mexico I only encountered happy, loving individuals who were eager to share with me their culture, their enthusiasm for life, their colors, their happiness, and everything else I probably didn’t even notice at the time, but are now irrevocably engrained in me and how I look at the world.