Mexico City's rich history extends back hundreds of years before the story of Hernan Cortes and the pillaging of Tenochtitlan come into play. CDMX sits surrounded by mountains in a basin that was originally an inland lake system at the impressive elevation of 7,350 ft / 2,240 m. It was chosen by the Aztecs in 1325 because this is where they saw the prophesied eagle sitting on a cactus chowing down on a snake. I'll skip the details [mostly because I don't know them myself] - but there are treasures to be seen in the city and its environs that range from pre-Aztec pyramids north of the city in Teotihuacan [almost a thousand years before the OG Aztecs] to still-standing buildings from the time of Cortes and the consequent Spanish colonial development, to finally, some of the most stunning examples of Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and contemporary modern architecture I've seen in any city [e.g. Museo Soumaya - thanks rich boy Slim]. Because of the being-built-in-a-basin-on-a-former-island-thing, many of the buildings are slowly sinking into the ground. Another complicating factor is that earthquakes have rumbled the foundations of these heavy structures, further compromising their integrity and resulting in a HIMYM Marshall-Lily apartment style unquieting, slightly vertiginous sensation for their visitors.
The variety of construction styles in the buildings was pleasantly refreshing. Although it was jarring to see an Art Deco masterpiece of yore crumbling away next to a technical marvel of glass and steel with a small turmeric-hued and graffitied townhouse wedged between, that sort of helter-skelter organization added to the charm of the city and was a welcome change from the oft uniform minimalist structures of wood, glass, and steel that characterize modern developments. Similarly, the Aztec remnants and European classical churches scattered around the historic districts dwell on the same blocks as masterpieces from the 1800's and 1900's - soaring marble behemoths ornately decorated and modern metal monsters, twisting up from the ground, gleaming the bright Mexican sun onto their centuries old neighbors.
Feast your eyes on a classic Oaxacan snack item. This, my friends, is a tlayuda: a thin, lightly fried, slightly crispy corn tortilla smeared with a layer of refried beans, then topped with freshly cut and seasoned onions, cilantro, nopale [cactus], and finally, finished with a pinch of cheese, sprinkled with a quick dance of the fingers and wrist-flick squirts of red and green sauce. The best approximation I can come up with is it's like a plate of nachos all conspired to lay out on a plate and then autobot into a smooth, large, ovoid motherchip, mounding all of their collective toppings into a colorful nebula that you scoop up two handed and hurdle towards your tastebuds.
A perfect accompaniment with an agua de jamaica for a wander through stalls of huaraches, beaded jewelry, pottery, hand-sewn textiles, and other things I shouldn't be buying.
Because, really, most the fun of going somewhere, seeing wonderful things and eating tasty food is being able to turn to the person next to you all eyebrow-raised and wide-eyed and get confirmation for how-freaking-awesome-this-is. Just the three of us, sadly, during this trip no thanks to the shackling bonds of corporate America - missed you, Jimbo, mi hermano.