Photo: Marcos Castillo/Shutterstock

12 Things Everyone From Mexico City Has to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Rulo Luna Ramos May 29, 2015

1. Do you want cheese with those quesadillas?

Yes, you have to order them like that and neither we nor the quesadillas lady care if this is some sort of etymological nonsense. If you insist on cheese and are reluctant to pay extra for it… you’ll just have to prepare your own quesadillas.

2. What’s the deal with those water bottles in gardens?

Not so long ago, a Mexico City entrepreneur decided there was no better way to keep unwanted dogs away from gardens than to scare the shit out of them with the thing they hate the most: bottled water. Logic and science failed to explain any kind of relation between canines and bottles, but the strange solution was already trending throughout the whole city… let’s give it a shot, they said, maybe it really works, they said. It obviously doesn’t work; however, there are still people out there who believe in the power of the bottle.

3. Why do we have so many streets named after rivers that don’t even exist?

Well they do exist! They run through a big tube below their corresponding streets.

4. What the hell is chito?

The legend tells us that this strange looking snack — common to street food stalls around Chapultepec — is made of dried horse or donkey meat. Most of us consider this to be a myth; however, most people I know have never tried it precisely because of that myth. What the hell is chito made of? Maybe that should remain a mystery.

5. Where did “the most transparent region of the air” go to?

It didn’t go anywhere, it’s still here! We just have to get rid of the extra suspended particles with a gale or a stormy night. The name used by Alexander von Humboldt to describe the Mexico Valley lies beneath a hundred and something IMECA points.

6. Why are chilaquiles always served with bread rolls?

Because we just love gigantic breakfasts. The more carbohydrates the better!

7. What does “under the clock” really mean?

“I’ll meet you under the clock” is a phrase any Metro connoisseur uses quite frequently. The phrase is completely understandable to locals, but disaster strikes every time a foreigner has to confront such directions. “Under the clock” is a simple reference to the middle part of the train platform, where there is a small signal indicating the train’s direction and an even smaller screen that’s always off or showing some inscrutable characters. That little black screen, when working properly, serves as a clock. Don’t tell me you couldn’t figure that out on your own!

8. Why do we fill buckets with cement and stick a metal rod in the middle?

Easy: to save our parking spaces! We needed to come up with something heavy, bulky, and useless enough so nobody would want to steal it… and it worked!

9. Why are you feeling lightheaded?

Mexico City is located at an altitude of 2,250 meters (around 7,500 feet). It might be a good idea to let your body acclimatize for a couple of days before starting with your usual morning workout session.

10. Why do we put chicken legs inside esquites?

To put some extra protein in your evening snack of course!

11. Why doesn’t anybody have change?

The bus driver doesn’t give change, taxi drivers feel insulted if you wanna pay them with a hundred pesos bill, and the Oxxo attendants will usually try to give you chocolates instead of coins. A piece of advice: Never leave your place without a pocket full of morralla.

12. Is Mexico City really sinking?

Yep, and the consequences are everywhere, especially in the older buildings around Centro Histórico. But if you really wanna grasp the magnitude of the problem, you have to pay a visit to the Independence Monument. Our beloved Angel was strengthened with such dedication that it has maintained its position while the rest of the city has continued its downward trajectory. The result? Every few years, new steps are added to reach the base of the monument. I wonder if an elevator’s part of the long-term plans…

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