A couple of months ago, my best friend Alex convinced me to buy a ticket for a flight to Mexico City for the contemporary art show Zona Maco. I did it on a whim, not knowing anything about the city, what the show was or where we would be staying, but was ready to fulfill my insatiable hunger for adventure and experiencing new places. Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane at LAX, passport in hand, still having not done my research as to what to expect. I had some pesos in my purse, walking shoes on and my camera I always traveled with slung over my shoulder. What more could I need?
I landed in the airport, passed through customs, and instantly had issues with my phone and getting onto a wifi network in order to use Uber (which was recommended). I had anticipated this being a problem, but unfortunately didn’t think that far ahead. It was late, I was slightly panicking, but took a few deep breaths, got my bearings and remembered I could speak Spanish and asked an armed guard where to order a cab. I road the twenty minutes to our Airbnb and was greeted with a warm hug and kisses by none other than my amiga íntima. Alex and I talked and shared stories like no time had passed at all even though it had been months since I had seen her last.
The next day we made our way to “Zona” as they call it- Alex had used her powers to acquire us two VIP passes which came in handy. We entered the fair and I was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size and volume of work. We entered gallery after gallery and I quickly identified work by artists like Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic and even Andy Warhol. We spoke to artists and curators from all over the world in different languages that all melted away when talking about the universal language of art and how it influences us and makes us feel. It was such a breath of fresh air from the political turmoil I had been so absorbed in for the last several months. It restored my faith that art and self expression moves us to greater things than simply the moment we are in.
The days following were a colorful blur of weaving through museums and parties and cafes and sipping glasses of wine in chic bars. We strolled through gorgeous peaceful parks, people watched and tasted the most incredible mole I’ve ever had in a market tucked away in an unassuming neighborhood. We spent time with Alex’s beautiful extended family who cooked for us and taught us all about Mexican culture. We discussed politics, Mexico’s education system and even why American’s warn “not to drink the water.” We drank cerveza and laughed with new friends who promised to visit us sometime. We ate fresh coconut while exploring Frida Khalo’s Casa Azul. I felt the warm golden afternoon sun give my skin the vitamin d it had been craving while sitting on our tiny apartment’s rooftop. This all reminded me that I was “here and now.” Something I’ve been working on this year: living in the present.
The night before I left, I cried to my friend in the bed we were sharing. I didn’t want to leave this slice of heaven that had served as an escape from all of life’s realities, I cried because I realized my home of Los Angeles has jaded me so and put me in such a bubble of comfort that I am so desperately working to claw my way out of; and mostly I cried because I knew I would be leaving my friend’s warm embrace. She reassured me we would be taking a trip like this again soon and that we would be reunited in another place and another time. For now I hold onto these memories through photos, as I always do during post vacation blues.
See some of the highlights of our trip below. All photos are by myself (Aly Nagel) and Alexandra Alvarez shot on a Canon rebel t5i. Edited by me.