David: David Lida
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- Janet: Polish/Mexican Connection
- Jo: What Am I Still Doing In Cancun
- Greg and Dianne: ¡VidaMaz!
- Jennifer: Mexico, Eh?
- Abby: vsvevg
- Linda: Retiring to Mazatlan
- Susannah: Mexico Retold
- Tina: Los Gringos Locos
- Katie: Los O’Gradys In Mexico
- Jen and Sam: Team Fuber
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Mexico, etc.
Born and raised in New York City, I have lived in Mexico City off and on – mostly on – since 1990. There is nowhere else on earth where I have felt more at home.
I am the author of four books (two in English, one in Spanish, one bilingual) and the editor of two more. I have been a journalist for more than 25 years, and since 2006, I have also worked as a mitigation specialist – I do investigations for lawyers who defend Mexicans who are facing the death penalty in the U.S. We try to ensure them a more favorable destiny than that.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
In 2008, a book I wrote about Mexico City was published in the U.S. It’s called First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, Capital of the 21st Century (and I might add that it is available at the Colonia Roma branch of the El Péndulo bookstore on Calle Álvaro Obregón #86). My editor told me that these days, to sell books, authors need to have a presence on the internet. So I started a website, the principal page of which is a blog about Mexico City. To be honest, I don’t know whether or not it has helped to sell books, but I have enjoyed blogging immensely.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
It’s been five years so it would be difficult to choose. Whenever I write about food or coffee a lot of people tend to respond with comments. Here is a link to a post about my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city.
Also, a couple of other posts seemed to stir controversy among the readers, which was momentarily exciting. Here they are:
And this one amused a lot of readers. It’s about how amorous people are in public in Mexico City.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Mexico differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I have been in Mexico City for so long that it is no longer a new life. I consider it my home, and the culture shock is in fact experienced when, for professional reasons, I visit the U.S.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Mexico? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Is anyone “fully” prepared for moving from one country to another? If I could change anything, I would have tried to have more patience when dealing with some of the bureaucratic glitches that are inevitable here (and, I suppose, many other countries).
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Mexico City is the only big city I know of where, when a passenger enters a taxi, he is asked by the driver how to get to his destination. However, rarely will a taxi driver admit flat-out that he doesn’t know how to get somewhere. He will take you more or less to where you are going, and then drive around in circles, roll down his window and ask passersby, Oye, ¿la calle de Arenal? (“Hey, where’s Arenal Street?”) When I first moved here, I thought I outsmarted the drivers by buying a Guía Roji, a street map in book form. I got in a cab and when the driver seemed unsure of where we were going, I found him the destination on the map. He was fascinated by the map, and consulted it at least a half-dozen times. Meanwhile, he drove around in circles, rolled down his window and asked passersby, “Hey, where’s Arenal Street?”
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Mexico?
- Don’t be afraid of Mexico City. It’s a city that unfortunately has long been defined by its negative aspects, in particular issues of crime and safety. But in fact there are many positive aspects that are seldom discussed. Compared to many cities in the U.S. and other countries, it is in fact quite safe, and endlessly fascinating – culturally, historically and socially.
- Don’t try to penetrate Mexico City. It’s too big and confusing for that. Let it engulf you.
- Have lunch in a cantina. Make sure it’s a traditional one, like La Mascota (on the corner of Bolívar and Mesones in the centro), La No. 7 (on Ayuntamiento between López and Dolores), or La Mansión de Oro (Avenida Universidad 123, Colonia Narvarte), where free food is served along with the drinks you buy. It’s a quintessential Mexico City experience.
How is the expat community in Mexico? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Mexico City is a big, cosmopolitan hypermetropolis of more than 20 million people. I feel blessed to have friends here from Mexico, South America, Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S.
How would you summarize your expat life in Mexico in a single, catchy sentence?
I am reminded of something my ex-wife said about this city, which I thought was spot-on: La ciudad de México te exige mucho, pero también te da mucho. Mexico City demands a lot of you, but it also gives you a lot. I hope it doesn’t get lost in the translation.