My office is located in a neighborhood called La Condesa. It’s the most “comfortable” neighborhood I have stumbled across, and this is not a bad or good thing. It’s just a thing I have to face as an affluent white woman from places that are more slower paced and ‘safe’ than most DF neighborhoods (I hesitate to say ‘safe’ as I am safe but safety relies on actions and knowledge here whereas in Northfield, MN you can save your place with your laptop or Colorado Springs, CO you can stroll alone at night with no problems). The best way I can describe it: I can go for walks in La Condesa and feel rejuvenated rather than stressed out.
Walks. There’s something about taking a place in on foot, seeing the street slower than a car, feeling the breezes, breathing in the smells, and having to talk to the people, even just to say “Buenos días” or “perdon.” I attribute my love for walks to my parents, namely my mom, who will often stop by my room or where ever I’m perched and ask, “want to go for a walk around the block?” Sometimes we chat most of the way, sometimes we’re mostly silent. Either way, it’s a wonderful chance to open conversation, move, spend time together, and be in our beautiful Colorado neighborhood, snow or shine.
I brought these walks to college. Walks became a way to take study breaks, work things out, connect with my mentee, savor the last warmth before Minnesota winter, and talk on the phone. Not everyone wants to go running with me, but more people are willing to go on walks. That’s what I discovered. In my last year of college, through stubbornness mostly, I walked to and from my house 95% of the time. Even in the dead of winter at 6:45 am. Why drive when you could walk? It’s so much better for you (your mind and body), the environment, and getting out of that go-go-go schedule we have going on in the US.
In Mexico, I did not think walks would become so important for me. I have yet to find a way to run as much as I usually do. I’ve improved but suddenly in a big city, there are no corn fields, no large parks in bluffs to run off to easily. I’ve lived in some privileged places for more than that reason. When you can’t run, walk. Right? Walking was out of the question for awhile too because of the machismo mixed with my fear of machismo, I’m skittish. It’s hard to enjoy a walk when every group of males you pass raises your blood pressure due to 1) the looks, the incredibly objectifying expressions or 2) your fear that you’re about to be the object of the looks (but it doesn’t happen). This is a whole different topic, but it is a reality that shapes how I am in DF.
But La Condesa, my lovely work neighborhood, I’ve found my sweet spot.
I get to work about an hour early every day because if I leave early my family can help make my morning commute way easier. But then I’m at work an hour early. One day I spent the hour in a coffee shop but it didn’t do it for me. So now I walk. I make my way to these camellóns, median like pathways, and go. It’s time I get to do lots of reflecting. I pray. I wonder. I give myself serious pep talks. I listen to podcasts. I maneuver through the dogs (it’s a popular place to walk dogs. But they gotta be careful of the mataperros). I therefore maneuver the dog poop. I get sunshine. I sweat and my bag usually pulls at my shoulder.
I’ve been discovering more good routes but my go-to is almost purely camellóns, 2.7 miles, and takes
me the full hour. The trees let off a cool, fresh air. The bricked path is wide enough for the eco-bicis to speed by. The houses on either side are colorful and well kept. The restaurants don’t ask if I want to sit or buy, but rather are just beginning to get ready for the day by washing floors and sweeping paths. Cars pass by, but it’s not traffic. It’s a slow and steady trickle. Horns are kept to a minimum.
I may not get my nature, full on silence with only a dirt path to accompany me, but I get my much needed time. I get my God time. My sanity time. (And I get to let out some energy before sitting at a desk all day.) Totally worth having flushed cheeks and bring slightly sweaty when I greet my co-workers at 10am with a cheek kiss.
I thank God for the legs that carry me. I’m not sure what I would do without them.