A day off.
Today I woke up to a lazy day. Stumbling into my local and favourite coffee shop and getting my weekend treat – a latte and whatever delicious freshly baked pastry is on offer at Fournier Rousseau, just across from my flat.
On the phone to my ever wonderful fiancé, I hopped in an uber and over to Mom & Dad’s hotel, Camino Real Polanco. I sat in the hot pink entrance of their hotel awaiting their arrival. As they got inti the cab, I finally bothered to tell them where we were going: Fonda Margarita. “It’s like a Mexican diner” – and that’s about all they got. As we trundled through Mexico City we chatted to Alex on a little video chat which made it feel like he was with us – a happy moment.
We arrived in Fonda Margarita’s quiet residential neighbourhood in the south of the city. We joined the restaurants queue and chatted to a lovely father with his two sons. Fresh off a flight from skiing in Canada, the 10 year old had begged his dad to go to this little Fonda for their beans and eggs.
As we got to the front of the line, a toothless, rotund man hung out the front door with a big smile asking how many were in our party. He sat us by pointing to a big, functional, metal table in the back of the restaurant. We sat across from a couple enjoying their breakfast. The waitress came over seeming rushed and we spat out what we wanted to eat – chicharonnes in salsa verde, beans and eggs, and carne torta (whatever that is!) with two coffees – she informed us that they didn’t have milk in this restaurant and rushed off.
It was a magical meal – delicious but it also felt so quintessentially and traditionally Mexican. Taking in our surroundings, we finally realised that the toothless restaurant host was in fact singing in between seating people – and accompanied by a classical Mexican guitar who was hidden in the corner. The most wonderful scene – smells and sounds.
We eventually finished mopping up our breakfast and I informed Mom & Dad of our next stop – Xochimilco. I said only that it was a fun boat thing and if it was terrible we could come back to the city – and so we went on our way.
It turns out Xochimilco is a wonderful place. It’s about 45 minutes south of the city, the remnants of the ancient Aztec canal systems which were used for transporting goods around ancient Mexico City. Canal boats powered by punters lazily take you on 1, 2, 5 or 6 hour tours. Floating mariachi bands, beer vendors and even floating food vendors come to your boat selling their services.
It’s the most wonderful day. Floating in and out of lovers being serenaded. We all had big grins on our faces all day!
Mom, Dad and I managed to get on a boat with a lovely couple and lady who helped us to navigate the negotiations. They were a fascinating trio with the lady working in journalism and explaining Mexican politics.
Our first stop was at the “aquarium” which cost 10 pesos and made us all laugh. We pulled back the curtain to a little shack to discover about 15 fish tanks in a line. It ended up being more interesting than initial impressions – with albino frogs, and some interesting local amphibious creature that looked like a terrifying alien.
Moving on we learned about the la llarona ghost story and eventually wound up back at the starting point – four hours later. As we pulled back in to the dock, our new mate decided that he wanted a mariachi band for his girlfriend’s birthday. This meant we got the full experience! The mariachi band boarded our boat. They played about 5 songs with incredible talent, drama and enthusiasm. What a perfect ending to the day.
We then hopped in a cab, back into the city and explored the Camino Real hotel – some of the most amazing architecture I’ve seen to date! Space and relief – every surface and every room being thought out in incredible detail. The blue room bar was particularly beautiful with a dramatic bar reaching over an electric blue fountain.
Such a relaxing day but I still feel like 10.30pm is way past my bed time!