Capitals, cities, towns, villages, neighbourhoods. We all come from somewhere and it’s time to meet each others hometowns and who knows, we might put some new places that we have never heard of on our bucket list! In this post, we travel through Angeles’ words to her magical hometown Mexico City.
1. Who are you, how long have you been living in the Netherlands and why did you move here?
I’m Angeles Mercado. I have been living in the Netherlands for 8 months. I moved to the Netherlands, along with my husband, in search of international job opportunities. We are both from different nationalities so moving to the Netherlands also signifies an opportunity for us to find a place to call home.
2. What’s your hometown and where is it? Were you born there? How long have you lived there?
My hometown is Mexico City, the vibrant capital of Mexico, located right in the centre of the country. I was born and raised there. When I turned 21 years old I started to move in and out of Mexico for short periods, but for the next 7 years, I always went back to my hometown. In 2018 I decisively moved to Italy and I have been out of my country ever since. To a degree, I guess I could say I lived in Mexico for 28 years.
3. Is it a big city or a small town? What is the population?
Mexico City is the smallest and the biggest city of Mexico all at the same time. Being the capital of the country, it is the most developed and dense city of the country, with 9 million 209,944 inhabitants. However, Mexico City is the smallest one, with just, 1459 km2, which accounts for 0.1% of the total area of the country’s territory.
4. What are some things in your hometown that are part of history? Is it famous for anything? Does anyone famous come from your hometown?
Mexico City has a vast history, for starters, its territory was part of Mesoamerica, antique settlements where cultures like the Mayan and Aztec were born. On the outskirts of the city, it’s located Tenochtitlan, an Old Aztec city with monumental pyramids. On the other hand, the “New Aztec City” was built where what we now know as Mexico City’s city centre. Mexico was conquered by Spain in 1519 decisive event that gave rise to miscegenation and Mexican culture. In more recent years we also appeared in the history books for being the hometown of activists and artists such as Frida Kahlo (painter), Diego Rivera (painter), Octavio Paz (writer) and Alfonso Quaron (film director). On another note, my hometown is also famous for its food and drinks the most famous of them being tacos and tequila.
5. What is your favourite season in your hometown and why?
My favourite season in Mexico is spring. Contrary to popular belief the weather in Mexico City is not extreme and it’s pretty stable, around 18-26 degrees throughout the year so I wouldn’t be able to choose the best season based on the weather. I would say though that my favorite season has to be spring because it is when my favorite Mexican tree, the Jacaranda, blooms. Covering the city with beautiful purple flowers that fall to the ground by the end of the season, creating colorful mats all around the late concrete city.
6. What is the happiest memory you have from your hometown?
My happiest memory is the every morning family breakfast. In Mexico, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No Mexican mom would allow their children to go out to start the day without having their tummies full of nutrients. My family is not an exception to this. Every morning my parents, my sister and I gather around the table to enjoy a plate of papaya and other seasonal fruits, all of them topped with some cereals and honey. As a second course, we may be having some eggs, beans and tortillas. Any other person would be satisfied by now but in Mexico, we can’t skip the coffee with some sweet treats (Mexican sweet bread) to properly finish breakfast.
7. Do you miss your hometown? What do you miss the most?
I do miss my hometown, its weather and its flavours (especially seasonal fruits and tacos) but most of it all, I miss my family. It’s hard to leave home and all its comforts to start from zero somewhere else, but it is also imperative to do so if you want to broaden your perspective of the world. It can be hard but it’s also interesting to learn and adapt to new ways. Home is where the heart is, so we can always carry with us some of our most loved traditions everywhere we go.
8. What do you like most about your hometown? What would you like to change about your hometown?
Being one of the biggest cities in the world, I like that you can never run out of activities and things to see over there. Mexico City is very alive, full of energy and hardworking people. Yet, one of the things I like the most about Mexico City is directly linked to what I would like to change about it, its size and density. Almost every minute in Mexico City feels like is rushed hour, the traffic can be intense all day long throughout all the year, and during the festivities, it may even get worst. It is hard to be on time due to the traffic and crowdedness of the different establishments, but knowing this, we are always patient with others in case they are slightly delayed.
9. Do you think you will return to live there one day? Why or why not?
As of now, I’m a young professional looking for opportunities to keep growing in all aspects of my life so I am open to being wherever there are better opportunities for me and my family. I would never close the door on going back to my hometown, but I wouldn’t go back unless there is potential growth for my future.
10. How often do you visit your hometown and how do you spend your days there?
I try to visit Mexico once per year, it’s a long journey. When I am there I spend my days enjoying some quality time with my family, occasionally visiting my extended family and friends and of course satisfying every Mexican food cravings I have had for the past months, usually starting with tacos. I also try to visit my usual favourite spots, they always bring back good memories that make me feel like I am back home. Mexico is energetic and ever-changing so there is constantly a new restaurant, bar, park and even entire new zones to discover. Somehow, despite the lack of space and overpopulation, the city keeps growing, hence there is always someplace new to visit.
11. What are the main attractions in your hometown and what would be your personal recommendations?
The main attractions in my hometown are the Piramides de Teotihuacan (Old Aztec City), k (centre of Mexico City, New Aztec City), Bellas Artes Teatre, El Angel de la Independencia (monument), Xochimilco (Canals navigated by “trajneras”), Chapultepec’s Castel, Chapultepec’s Zoo, and my personal favourite Coyoacan. Coyoacan is a small area in Mexico City, (home to Frida Kahlo) where the most typical architecture, colours, sounds, smells and Mexican vibes can be found. It is a colorful place, easy to visit and a perfect way to capture Mexico in one shot. This is also a great place to buy souvenirs.
12. What are the main traditions, festivals, traditional food & drink of your hometown?
Mexican traditions and food come hand in hand. Considering almost every month in Mexico there is a celebration and every celebration comes with food, you would be right to guess that food is a big deal in my country. As a general overview I will just mention two of our most beloved traditions and a lot of food that comes along with them, these are not exclusive traditions of Mexico City but of the whole country. Perhaps the most popular tradition of Mexico may be Dia de Muertos. During this celebration, which takes place on the first and second day of November, we build altars for our deceased loved ones to visit us and share one more meal with them. Around this day we eat pan de muerto, a sweet treat that is just produced during this time of the year. Another major tradition is the celebration of the Independence Day, September 15. During this day the president stands on the balcony of the National Palace where he proclaims the names of the persons that led the independence movement. Mexicans gather at the squares to commemorate this event. On this day every typical Mexican dish may be on the menu, like pozole, tamales, tostadas, tacos, frijoles, barbacoa, chilaquiles, enchiladas, mole, sopes, tortas, pambazos, churros, etc., but the ultimate dish prepared for this celebration is the chile en nogada. The chile en nogada is a chili stuffed with a mixture of meat, dry fruits and nuts, it’s bathed with a white sauce with cream, cheese and nuts, topped with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds. Going back to exclusively focus on my hometown’s specialties the leading role goes to de Taco de Pastor, a marinated meat placed inside a tortilla, topped with pineapple, coriander, onion, lemon and salsa. All of this food wouldn’t be complete with our favourite drinks, the tequila, michelada beer and pulque, an alcoholic fermented beverage made from the maguey plant.
13. Do you find any similarities with Haarlem and your hometown? What is the biggest difference between them?
Mexico City and Haarlem could not differ more from each other. The capital of Mexico is a big fast paced city where everyone is always running late, whereas Haarlem is a slow pace, tranquil city where everything is within walking distance and there is plenty of time to complete different activities in one day.
Thank you Angeles for introducing us to your colourful hometown, Mexico City!
We are looking forward to hearing about other expats’ hometowns! Just go to our questionnaire copy and paste the questions, fill in your answers and submit them via Facebook Messenger or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you also wish to share some photos of you and/or your hometown, please do so!
The idea is for expatsHaarlem readers to get involved and share insights about their hometowns