Mama’s in Mexico City

Since I can remember my partner and I have planned to bring our first baby to Mexico for a year or so, so they’d be exposed to the language, know the Mexican side of the family, and always feel that there was no compromise to be made between an Australian or Mexican identity; our baby would be Mexican and our baby would be Australian, all at once.

Mexico City – D.F.

So here we are, a fortnight into our life in Mexico City with baby Camila (7 months) in tow.  The realities of packing up our Sydney house, saying goodbye to friends, leaving my mothers group (and Camila’s little friends) behind, cooling my job prospects, and seeing both my parents tear up as our bus pulled away… were all harder and much more real than I’d imagined.

Initially we are staying in the vacant flat of an aunt, north of the city in a slightly dodgy neighbourhood. I’m under orders not to go out after dark, so try to get out for a stroll in the day with Camila in the Hugabub – since this pavement was not built with strollers in mind. Having her in the carrier for a couple of hours a day has the added benefit of calming her in her new surrounds. Camila is a carbon-copy of her wooly-headed, coffee-coloured dad – has been since birth, and in Sydney I’d got so used to, “Oh, look at that hair!” as I walked about that it’s funny to have her ignored while they stare and comment on me and mine instead, “chht chht güera*!”  (*güera = fair-skinned / light-haired)

The first time I lived in Mexico I was studying at university – I use the term ‘studying’ loosely – and rampaging with a mad group of Australians, Brits and Canadians. This is despite promising myself beforehand I would interact only with the Mexican world and Spanish-language. This group was something special though. The chaotic sounds of the streets and the slight sense of insecurity was thrilling. Even the effect of the food was the subject of hours of revolting jokes amongst us. It was a blast.  This time around, mama’s in Mexico, and it’s a different perspective. Stepping into going-too-fast taxis with no seat-belts, trying to work out which part of the cabin would have the least impact in an accident (I’m going with behind the driver; I figure he’ll instinctively save his own side); breastfeeding and entertaining a baby between urgent bathroom trips; and trying to get her down for her afternoon sleep amid a cacophony of novelty car-horns, food-cart whistles and shouts is really something else. Breast-milk supposedly gives her antibodies to any illness I happen to have however, so at least baby wins there.

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Path from our house to the outside world

Often I just want to eat, there’s nothing in the house and I’m drawn out in ravenous desperation but want to be invisible. Inevitably Camila and I are met with curious stares, I feel on guard, and it’s a relief to step back inside our little ‘compound’ afterwards. I wonder if they think I’ve just stolen her off someone here. This morning she and I headed to a little restaurant two doors away and ate chilaquiles. It’s a great spot, marked only by a door on the street so once we’re inside I can relax and not feel so watched. “Gordo o gorda? …. ah, gordita!” asks the waitress with a smile (fat boy or fat girl? Oh a fat little girl!). It’s these little steps out and about without my husband that I have to gee myself up for, that build my confidence and sense of independence here. So much for that wild independent traveler.

Soon we’ll be in a nicer, more central suburb where I don’t stand out quite so much and where people are too busy to care anyway. Even with all of that though, it’s lovely to be back in Mexico: to eat the food, hear the language and be part of such a crazy, busy, colourful city where there is always something on. The economy is developing rapidly and you can see signs of it everywhere. Inevitably (or not?) a large percentage of the population is being left behind, and as always you can see signs of that, too. But we are finally back where it all began for our little family. Funnily enough we are staying a street called Belén. My partner and I met at a house-party in Casa Belén – a house named after its street – in a different Mexican city, all those years ago. If that’s not auspicious I don’t know what is. So you just go right ahead and bring it on Mexico!

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5 thoughts on “Mama’s in Mexico City

  1. I am happy to find your blog 🙂 My husband’s job is moving us to Mexico City this summer and I am interested in learning more until I am there learning it first hand 🙂 I have 3 children ages 6,5 and almost 3. What central location do you think you will move to?

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    • Most expat families seem to favour Santa Fe, Polanco etc. It’s green, very safe, and very expensive/exclusive.
      People wanting more of a hipster spot live in Condesa or Roma where all the bars, street-art, cafes etc are. Fantastic areas for night-life and weekend brunches – I stayed there with my parents and friends when I got married – but just a bit out of our price-range this time around (>$15k MXN).
      We are moving to Narvarte / Del Valle area, which is middle-class Mexico (some upper-middle) where it is safe, still has lots of cafes, shops and restaurants. It is a pretty traditional area for Mexican families but not at all uncomfortable as a foreigner. You can find two bedroom places for $9k MXN.
      Everyone has a different view on the sort of Mexico they want for their family and for many it might be as simple as picking somewhere right by work so they don’t lose their days in traffic congestion or packed metro carriages. For me, if you live in a gated community surrounded only by expats and the super rich, what was the point of coming?
      Once you decide on your neighbourhood be wary of the street you settle on; try for something central to that suburb, near transport like Metro. Like anywhere else in the world, Real Estate will call something ‘Roma’ or ‘Del Valle’ when it’s really just a few blocks into the next suburb and just like anywhere else, a few blocks in any direction can mean a very different feel in terms of safety or rental values.
      The quality of the house you can afford is important too. If you are home with the kids all day, a decent coffee and a park in walking distance are important, as is the security of the building (doormen are the norm in apartment blocks), and even the view from your windows. Staring at busy roads or concrete buildings is not good for the soul!

      Internations has articles and expat forums where you can get other people’s opinions on best place for your family.

      Best of luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! We were looking at Condesa to be close to my husband’s job but are now looking towards Coyoacan where we can get more room for less $. Thankful my husband has a coworker who is a great source of knowledge 😀 I stay at home and homeschool our children so I appreciate your suggestions!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Blog & I | Spilling the Beans

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