I remember before high school soccer games my coach would make the team pick up some trash around the stadium because it was "good karma." As one of the pubescent self-centered boys who participated, I couldn't quite grasp the significance beyond the fact that girls didn't notice and we never won a state championship. The memory came back to me many years later when my wife and I traveled around the world together for a full year and no great harm (besides a few gastrointestinal bouts) ever befell us. Now more than a month into our second tour of the Foreign Service, DiploMom and I periodically remind ourselves how good we've got it. All thanks to Coach Fifer and some garbage bags. Things have a funny way of working out for us.
Fast forward to the present. After about a year of hand wringing about being separated for an extended period of time at post, we managed to pass Spanish language tests and landed together in Mexico City on March 10, a rare feat in Foreign Service tandem hood. Since we arrived in the middle of the week and school year, we had to hit the ground running. Within 24 hours, we hired a nanny, whisked the boys off to their new school and begun our own check-in process at the U.S. Embassy. As to be expected, there have been a few bumps in the road along the way, but we have begun to settle in nicely to our new lives-- for the next year and a half or so at least.
For starters, we have a spacious apartment in the heart of the city. We live around the corner from a nice grocery store and a few blocks away is a well-to-do health club we've joined that definitely lives up to its billing as an urban oasis. The one downside to our housing is that it is tucked away in the farthest corner of the expat enclave and we aren't particularly close to other embassy families, especially ones with English-speaking boys that could be playmates for our kids. My oldest son is slowly morphing into a xenophobic homebody not seen since the likes of Archie Bunker.
All in all though, we feel lucky to live in such a trendy, happening place of the city and urban living has been treating us well so far. One of our favorite things about Mexico so far has been the food, which blends the best of spicy, salty and, oh yes, pork galore! In fact, Mexico City has a serious foodie subculture and we have found no shortage of options around work and home. This ain't your faux Tex-Mex from Chili's (though I confess we have eaten at one close to our place). We're talking some serious cosmopolitan haute cuisine in addition to cheap but tasty street fare. Tacos with marinated meat and fresh guacamole have more than replaced our staple diet of falafel and hummus from Israel.
Another great thing about living in a big, bustling city is that there is tons to do and we've only just scratched the surface. During our four day Easter holiday, we visited the city's world-renowned Anthropology Museum, which contained jaw dropping Aztec artifacts and an impressive array of other cultural displays. Last weekend, we enjoyed an outdoor jazz concert in a nearby neighborhood that hands down rivals Georgetown's leafy streets. We also feel lucky to work in the heart of the downtown area, which is actually quite green and well laid out despite the city's unchecked sprawl.
Simply put, Mexico City gets serious props for livability and really is a hidden gem for tourists. It certainly should be a top choice for Foreign Service bidders, as pointed out by a fellow blogger who was recently posted here on a temporary assignment. Mexico City, at least where we live and work, is NOT what you may think of Mexico. This place is seriously happening. Come visit and we'll prove it to you.
All this makes me thankful we live here but also a bit nervous that our good fortune has to eventually run out. We (at least DiploMom for now) already have a great follow-on assignment in Oman to look forward to but I feel like the other shoe has to drop sometime. The recent earthquake in Nepal made me think how susceptible we could be to a similar natural disaster here, god forbid.
But for now we're content living in our blissful bubble, just like the dipsy denizens of The Lego Movie. Taco Tuesday or something not quite like the end of the world may be in our future but until then I'll just keep eating the yummy tacos and telling myself: "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!"