I arrive in Mexico City in the late afternoon, tired and a bit out of sorts. I haven't been sleeping well, usually waking up at the pre-crack of dawn and unable to fall back asleep.
While checking into the hotel, my friend I., a German-as-a-second language teacher who spends summers here, pops up behind me, welcoming me back and admiring my handbag (made of yellow and apricot colored oil cloth imprinted with brightly colored kiwis, pineapples and watermelons).
An hour later, I join I., and her friends B. and R., at a table in the lobby. B. is a psychotherapist who owns an apartment in the same building as I. (Not me, but I.)I (not I.)am afraid that I will have to monitor what I say around her in order not to be psychoanalyzed and found psychotic or something; B. assures me that she doesn't work when she's not working. I am relieved.
R. is a Canadian who lives in Mexico City, proctors exams, teaches English, and trains English teachers. I. introduced me to him last year, but this time I find him more droll, ascerbic, and witty.
The others go to the hotel restaurant for dinner, but I need to stretch my legs. I wander around the neighborhood, checking to see that my old haunts still remain in business. I'm greeted and briefly flirted with by the rotisserie man from whom I often purchase chicken that I take to my hotel room for a late-evening, succulent dinner (the chicken, not the man). I pass the funky bars and restaurants teeming with university students and the tiny holes in the walls from which people sell tacos stuffed with shredded or chunked cow heads or feet or turkey sandwiches on big white rolls or cubes of papaya, pineapple, and mango, and more.
I finally settle on a restaurant located on a pedestrian street near my hotel. When I ask the waiter for a suggestion, he says that I should order the fish quesadillas. I take his advice, forgetting that I'd eaten fantastic fish quesadillas only yesterday, when I took H. out to lunch in Cuernavaca, and we ordered them as the prelude to our huge and delicious bowls of shrimp and octopus ceviche.
The first part of my evening meal is a tasty shrimp soup, featuring two huge shrimp and a potato chunk that looks as if it has grown a goatee; I don't eat the hair-sprouting potato. A plate of steamed green and yellow squash, green beans, cauliflower, and broccoli follows and gets a bit of oomph from a spritz of lime. The quesadillas are disappointing, even when I undo their toothpick sutures to blanket the fish with lime and hot sauce. They are greasy and heavy and I wish that I had bought a quarter of of a roasted chicken from my flirtor, instead.
But I have plenty of time to savor that and other delights. I'll be here for another four days.