I’ve got less than 48 hours before I leave Mexico City and my motivation to wander outweighs my desire to write. And bonus, the weather here couldn’t be better: mid-70s, clear slight breeze. A jeans and t-shirt sort of deal. As I explore Roma Norte, however, I am the one under-dressed. Most everyone else has busted out scarves and puffy jackets. My guess is it’s more about fashion than function. Streets are filled with beautiful people pretending it’s winter. Keeps my head on a swivel.
My run this morning hurt. Like, a lot. And I’m blaming the fortune-telling 18-miler I did on Christmas morning. Rather than suffer through my plan to knock out a 10k, I stopped at 5k and got myself a juice and lovely conversation at Fruta Editorial.
Pau, the owner, runs a model retail business. The fact that her space offers various juices, foodstuffs, and books published by independent presses is kind of irrelevant. More importantly, she’s created a space that exudes positive energy. This is the magnet that lured me in in the first place, and it’s what keeps me coming back. Frankly, I don’t really care much about juice. Sure, I like it. But I’m not really a juice guy. It’s the feeling at Fruta Editorial that I’m after.
Today Pau took it to the next level and told me more of her story. Turns out she is also affiliated with an NGO that provides solutions to the more than twelve-million Mexicans who live without clean water. (As Americans, we can’t even imagine this) She’s been around the world working with various government agencies trying to combat a similar problem. Her juice/book business is inspirational, but her story is even more so. Pau’s willingness to tell her story and her commitment to quality product prove the heart of the training content I’ve been delivering to retailers for the past eight months. When customers know your story, they’ll keep coming back. Even if you are out of grapefruit and need to substitute mango for their favorite juice. In specialty environments it’s more about the people than it is the product.
Pau told me her juice shop is teaming up with a café in Condesa. A place called Frëims. She said they make killer espresso and serve sandwiches using waffles as bread. Since she lit up when she spoke of the place, I added it to my daily plan and went looking for it after breakfast in my flat. I arrived during a slow time, so I took up space and read my friend Sam Peterson’s novel, Trunky, for a couple hours. Pau was right, it was fantastic.
On my previous walks along Avenida Amsterdam I had seen a street vendor selling homemade stuffed animals. Today I finally stopped and grabbed a few for the kids in Katie’s family. Not going to lie, I sort of want to keep the animals for myself. Later I detoured from Condesa to hit the Mercado de Medellín for a bag of canela to bring home.
I also decided today would be haircut day. I had hoped it might also be tattoo day but the couple places I knew were all booked up. Guess I hit them up too late in the trip. Getting a haircut appointment was easy. I didn’t go to a fancy salon or a standard barbershop. No. The Strand Gentleman’s Barbershop is a super hip, wildly cool joint where they sharpen straight razors with leather straps. Some Mexican rap pumped in the background while I sat in the chair and told the barber (who didn’t speak any English) to cut my hair como que quiere (how he wants to). I felt like they ought to have offered a cigar and a shot of whiskey when all was said and done. End result – one of the best haircuts I’ve ever received (and I bought some pomade called “Teddy Boy“). Fact is, my top three haircuts of all time have all been international. (1) Mexico City, (2) Dublin, Ireland, and (3) Tangier, Morocco. Guess I have to keep traveling. And regularly.
My day ended with a stop at Café Cardinal. I grabbed a table on the sidewalk and placed my order – a double espresso (duh). People began filling the place, laughing and ordering their drinks, yukking it up with friendly baristas. The owner of another café I’ve fallen for, Quentin Café, walked by and told me he didn’t recognize me with my new haircut. He then complimented my new look which only validated how I was already feeling.
A garbage truck pulled up in front of Cardinal and I watched mesmerized as workers sorted recyclables on the spot. Ripping open plastic bags of domestic garbage, sifting though it, tossing cans in one bin, glass in another. Most of this done with bare hands. Occasionally they’d find something worth keeping and toss it in a separate bin. It might not seem efficient, but it looked pretty amazing.
I tried to do some writing and couldn’t get started. I grabbed Trunky to read some more but that wasn’t happening either. So I closed down my computer and packed up my book. I sat back in my chair and watched as evening traffic rolled by. The sun was starting to set and everything had that magical glow. I was tempted to take some photos but no, I wanted to just take it all in. There’s something about this place, not just the café, and possibly not just Roma Norte. I am enamored by Mexico City and I don’t want to leave on Thursday. But I will. And to be honest, part of me is ready to get home and put some new ideas into place. But I will definitely be back. Probably just about the time I’m needing another haircut.