Our time in Mexico is finally coming to an end; on Monday evening we fly back to Stockholm and on to our apartment in little old Uppsala. The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions, firstly coming to terms with the fact that our time here is almost up, then for quite some time looking forward to getting the hell out of here, and for the last few days sadness about all the people and places we're going to miss. First however there's time for one last blog post, where I'll look back at some of the highlights of our trip.
By the time we leave we'll have been here 175 days, which equates to 47.95% of 2017, or 252,000 minutes, apparently. It took us all a few days to get settled in at the beginning, but after finally moving to our apartment in Cocyoacán a few weeks later and settling in to a daily routine, life began to feel somewhat normal, at least as normal as anything can be in Mexico City.
We went on three trips, firstly to 'northern' Mexico and Mazatlán in February, my main memory of which now is eating disgusting quantities of seafood for breakfast. Towards the end of April we flew to the insane heat and intense beauty of Havana, Cuba and shortly afterwards a well-deserved break in classic seaside resort Acapulco. I wrote a few words about those trips here.
As well as taking advantage of my parental leave to spend lots of time with my son (when I was able drag him away from his grandparents for a couple of hours), I managed to get out and about every now and then in the city, visiting several museums (the Leon Trotsky Museum, the National Watercolour Museum and the Museum of Memory and Tolerance to name a few), exploring bars, cafés and restaurants in Coyoacán and La Roma, going to events such as the rock festival Vive Latino 2017 and as always spending inordinate amounts of time watching football, including a trip to the Estadio Azteca to see a World Cup qualifier between Mexico and Costa Rica.
My time here was also dominated by classes; by my reckoning I gave 31 English classes to family and friends, took 28 Spanish classes over an intense six-week period towards the end, and 34 times dragged myself to 7.30am swimming lessons, despite some of the initial difficulties in getting hold of the necessary information.
Of course writing this blog was also a big part of my time here; my 18 posts thus far have a total of 3,916 views at the time of writing. My personal favourite post is the Pram-pusher's Guide to Mexican Pavements; I still regularly find myself with the uncontrollable urge to take photos of bizarre pavement fails, I've probably got enough material to write a sequel. I have noticed more recently that the phenomenon depends very much on the area of the city; on a recent visit to Polanco I was amazed at the smoothness of the walkways (that's the kind of thing I pay attention to these days).
There were a few ideas that never quite developed into posts: the fact that almost all transactions still take place through cash, forcing you to regularly withdraw huge chunks before somehow making it home a nervous wreck; the fact that you're regularly scolded for not having the exact change, as if paying for something that costs 36 pesos with a 50 peso note were completely outrageous (where the hell are you supposed to get the change from in the first place if you always pay with the exact amount?); the fact that Mexicans seem to think that a plate of plain rice constitutes an acceptable dish in its own right between the starter and main course; the list goes on.
As for the future, I'll be starting a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Uppsala University in August. In the months leading up to our trip here I went through the interview process at Google, with a view to a job as an analytical linguist in the Zurich or London offices. Unfortunately the team I was going to be working for decided at the last minute, when my application was just about to go to final review, that they couldn't fit the job within their budget at the moment. After some initial disappointment we're delighted to be returning to Uppsala instead, our home, and I'm excited to be working in the Computational Linguistics group on a fantastic project known as Universal Dependencies.
So it's goodbye, or adios, to Mexico for now. Our time here has been nothing if not memorable and I'm sure it's going leave its mark on me and my son for the rest of our lives. And of course we'll be back; perhaps not for such a long period next time, but there'll be plenty of Christmases and other reasons to return. Perhaps Noam will even choose to live here one day, and have to put up with visits from his parents, almost certainly slightly longer and slightly more often than he would like.