I moved from one hip neighborhood to an even hipper one today. This was part of my plan so that I could experience life in two different areas of the city. My AirBnB hosts, Edoardo and Maria, have welcomed me into their spacious home in Coyoacan. Just four metro stops to the south, Coyoacan is known for being the home to two of Mexico’s most famous artists, husband and wife Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
One of the things I like about the places I travel is how easy it is to get things done. Today I stepped off the metro in my new neighborhood hoping to find a laundromat. Rather than search on Google Maps, I walked half a block and passed a man leaning out a small doorway. As I walked by, I thought I noticed some washing machines behind him. I didn’t see a sign, so I turned around and asked, “Lavanderia?” I handed over my bag and he said my clothes would be ready in two hours. It was as if he were waiting for me to drop off my clothes. The bill came to $2.50.
Next, I needed a cafe with good wi-fi to get down to work. This time I did use Google maps and found a highly rated place with a balcony overlooking a park just two blocks away. They not only had great coffee, but a variety of delicious donuts and pastries.
Every time I think about these conveniences, though, I’m reminded that they work for me because I am a privileged, wealthy traveler who can fly around the world and take advantage of these services at an incredibly cheap cost for me. Although I have seen very few people begging in the streets (many, many more in San Francisco), and no street children at all, I know there are local people who could not afford to take their clothes to a laundromat or go to a cafe by the park.
Most of today was planned as a work day for me. I needed to do some school work, write another grant, catch up on some emails, and prepare for some upcoming events. I don’t mind giving up a day of this break to work if I get to do it in this beautiful city. In Hanoi, my friends and I used to plan “cafe days” where we would meet up, work on our projects, drink great coffee and end up having an amazing meal and conversation somewhere. Today was one of those days. I also needed this day to give my body a rest from all the physical activity and harsh sun of the last three days. Tomorrow I’ll be ready for more adventures.
Here are some sights from walking around today – from cafe to restaurant to cafe – it’s easy to get distracted.