I’ve been in Mexico City for a little over a week and a half now and until today I’d yet to venture out on my own. It sounds silly I know, and really it is, but I am terrified of this city. I have the directional abilities of a watermelon – seriously. I still get lost in my hometown where I lived for 25 years. I find maps utterly incomprehensible and I don’t seem to possess that ‘instinct’ or memory for directions that so many other people (including Guy do). When I walk into a shop I have to remind myself which direction I came in from otherwise when I leave I’ll have absolutely no idea where I am and how I got there. And don’t even get me started on parking lots…
Anyway as much as I love Guy and enjoy his company (most of the time) I hate feeling tethered to him. And since he does not share my love of wandering around markets it’s a battle to convince him to take me some days. Today I decided I had to be brave. I drunk two cups of coffee, put Harry Potter on my iPod and set off with a map in hand. I ended up going in completely the wrong direction and ending up about a kilometre from where I was supposed to be (I didn’t mention that to Guy when I got back!) but after a couple of fruitless conversations with the locals (I swear they have even less directional sense than I do but they’ll just tell you things to try to be helpful ha!) and a long time staring at my map I eventually made it to the market.
It was great! It was surprisingly orderly and clean and had stall after stall bursting with fresh produce. I didn’t want to venture too far in knowing I would get lost so I went to the first table I came across, where there was one of those old ladies whose faces are so wrinkled you feel like you can read their whole life story just by gazing at those deep lines. I hope I have a face like that when I’m older! She immediately beamed at me and handed me a basket while telling me the specials she had that day.
After selecting a few things, I asked her what the word for sweet potato was in Spanish (batata), and in return she asked me what it was in English. I told her “sweet potato, papa dulce“. Her wrinkled face broke into a huge grin as she laid her hand on mine and chuckled heartily. I laughed along with her mesmerized by how her face had transformed. When we recovered she told me I should buy some oranges because my husband would like them, and she showed me how to choose the best avocados.
I left a few minutes later with an overflowing bag and a smile on my face. I returned home with fresh strawberries, figs, bananas, papaya, coriander, beetroot, onions and of course my batata.
To say I am proud of myself is an understatement. It’s not just that I can now gorge myself on delicious food, but it’s given me a confidence to explore this wonderful city, and reminded me that sometimes all it takes is one foot out the door. 🙂
P.S I made a rice bowl with my produce – erm with no rice or a bowl (does that make it just a plate of food?) Whatever it was it was delicious. Black beans simmered with garlic and coriander stems, red cabbage and spinach lightly sautéed, sweetcorn and guacamole. All sprinkled with a squeeze of lime.