So, by now you all probably know about my love for Mexico City, that gigantic, smoggy mess of a place that I called home for over a year.
Anyone who asks me about what travelling and living in Mexico is like always ends up getting an earful as I can’t recommend the place enough. In fact, when I talk about being back ‘home’, it isn’t the UK that I mean. It’s being back with my friends and everything I love in D.F.
And I always imagined that it was my passion for Latin American culture that made my move to Eastern Asia so difficult. I’ve said on more than one occasion that there’s something missing here; I just don’t feel any deep-rooted connection to Korea the way a lot of expats do.
However, earlier this week I was traipsing through my archives, looking at old posts I’d written about the places I’ve visited over the last 2 and a half years, when I came across my post for San Francisco and saw something very interesting. This was how I’d written about D.F. after 4 months of living there:
Every piece of research I did for Mexico all seemed to center on this big, smoggy city…
The more I read about (it), the more I was determined to settle there and teach English for a few years. I’ve always loved big cities and I knew I’d love D.F. I’d find inspiration and excitement from the craziness of one of the biggest cities in the world and get the chance to live amongst a different culture and speak a different language at the same time.
But I was wrong.
I arrived in late December 2011 but never felt that spark, that inspiration, that joy, excitement or happiness I was expecting. Instead, I was faced with smog, chest infections, another robbery, stern faces and dangerous traffic. The city was cold, grey and had some of the ugliest parts of the Western world.
There were some parts I loved – the whole of Condesa, Frida Kahlo’s house, the beautiful Ángel de la Independencia. But I didn’t feel any connection. I expected my heart to feel something towards this city; Something that would tell me I was in the right place, doing the right thing. But nothing ever came.
It was actually a disappointment.
Doesn’t that sound familiar?
I do remember second guessing my move to D.F. after having some of the best times of my life further south. But I had no idea how disconnected I’d felt.
I mean, I always felt that connection to LatAm culture but, wow, did I really feel that way about Mexico City? I can’t even begin to imagine that now.
Of course, we also have to bear in mind one important detail that I did keep hidden at the time:
I wrote this after returning from California, where I’d undergone an 8-day roadtrip with a guy who ignored me for most of it (yup, if you want to talk about awkwardness, try sitting in a car with a dude who’s in his man cave while driving 7 hours from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles) and then proceeded to break up with me while I was staying with his whole family over Easter weekend.
By the time I got back to D.F., I was devastated and heartbroken and desperately wanted to be back in San Francisco – a place full of smiley, positive people that were close to him. Ugh.
But I’m not going to put the whole blame on that. Like I said, I remember that moving to that city was an adjustment. And the funny thing is that now all my memories of D.F. and the places I visited in Mexico are full of positivity. I loved the people, the language, the culture, the food, the cities, the towns, the villages, the music, everything.
And this gives me hope that one day I might end up feeling the same way about Korea.
You never know.