I learned within twenty minutes of landing in Mexico City three important facts.
1) Just because Trident makes good gum in Canada does not mean Trident makes good gum in Mexico.
2) The smog clouding the horizon is so thick that you often cannot see the giant volcanoes around the city.
3) Red lights and stop signs are only a suggestion.
I was staying with a friend’s family in Mexico City but did not have any idea what to do with my time there. My gracious hosts suggested that I use the Turibus, a hop-on hop-off tour bus that drives a route around the major tourist sites and neighbourhoods in the centre of Mexico City. Stops included Chapultepec castle (great city views), the zoo, La Condesa (great gelato), Paseo de la Reforma (outdoor art gallery included), Presidente Masaryk (the Rodeo Drive of Mexico City) and the Zocalo (main plaza).
The Zocalo was a highlight for me, most because of this:
It had to be 25 degrees Celsius outside, but Mexico City refused to be daunted by the weather. There was a full winter festival under way in the Zocalo, complete with ice rink, snowman tent, ice slides and fake igloos. It was priceless.
I also had the privilege of being invited to the family’s celebration of Dia de los Reyes Magos, which celebrates the arrival of the three wise men at Christmas. The party hosts and guests were incredibly hospitable.
One entertaining tradition at this celebration was the cutting of the rosca, a round cake bread. Each person cuts their own slice. Hidden inside the cake are tiny plastic baby Jesus figurines. If your piece has a baby Jesus in it, then in February you have to make everyone a tamal. Lots of laughs were had.
The other highlight for me in Mexico was the hilarious product slogans. My two favourites were “Ahora Mas Rico” (now more yummy!) on yogourt and “Contiene Miles de Sonrisas” (contains thousands of smiles) on orange juice boxes.