Home sweet home

On the highway in central Mexico, passing humble homes.

HOGAR DULCE HOGAR, if you prefer. In any event, we returned Sunday after a week in Mexico City.

It was a good week. I wasn’t in a rush to return, as has been the case in recent years, an inexplicable change of heart.

For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up, we have a condo in the capital, a unit in a government housing development built specifically for employees of the Mexican highway department where my wife worked 14 years as a civil engineer.

She purchased the place in 1997, and was living there when we met here on the mountaintop in 2001 while she was visiting her sister who has a business on the plaza.

When we married in 2002, and she moved here, we rented the condo to a coworker. He stayed until 2007 when he bought his own home. Instead of renting it to an unknown, a dicey proposition even when you live nearby, we decided to keep it for ourselves for the occasional visit to the Big Tortilla.

We arrived at the condo in January 2007, painted everything and bought new furniture and appliances.

For the first four or five years, we were in Mexico City about two months each year.

Then I grew weary of it. Traffic is horrendous, and we drove from the mountaintop in our car. After about six years, I abandoned the car idea, and we switched to buses.

There are basically three ways to get about Mexico City. The subway (the Metrobus is just a ground-level subway), which is almost always jammed, microbuses, which are almost always jammed, and taxis. It’s taxis all the way for us now.

They are metered and quite cheap.

Driving by a “lagoon” the size of a small ocean.

For some reason, I was in no rush to leave during this last trip, so we did a few things other than the usual cleaning of the condo and paying a few bills.

There was time to visit the Pastelería Ideal, one of the most incredible bakeries you’ll ever see. And we even caught a play at the Gran Teatro Molière where we saw Peter Pan, the Musical, a Saturday matinee.

The theater is located in one of Mexico City’s most-chichi neighborhoods, Polanco. We got there by taxi, of course.

Were I wealthy and required to live in Mexico City, I would purchase a nice home in Polanco.

The most momentous aspect of the trip is that it appears that we’re on the verge of getting the deed to the condo, something we’ve been trying to wrest from the grip of the government since we paid it off about seven years ago.

We visited our notario — a type of lawyer who does deeds — and he says he may be notifying us in a week or two that my wife must return to sign the final papers. Let us pray so.

What brought this about was that we were able to provide a final piece of paperwork to him, something we could have done a year ago had he been a bit more forthcoming instead of indulging in typical Mexican vagueness.

My wife paid 100,000 pesos for the government-underwritten condo in 1997, about $5,500 U.S. at today’s exchange rate. It is now appraised at 600,000 pesos, about $33,000.

An identical unit nearby, however, was sold last year for more than 1 million pesos, about $55,000 U.S.  For years, we had planned on selling when we received the deed, but we’ve changed our minds. We’re keeping it.

The surrounding area grows more upscale by the day, and the condo value is rising at the same rate.

We got the place tidied up, purchased and installed a new, instantaneous, water heater and headed home to the mountaintop via the snazzy ETN bus line.

The photos were taken from my seat.

16 thoughts on “Home sweet home

  1. glad you kept it. perhaps we can meet in the “big tortilla” when we spend next winter in mexico. we will be going to playa del carmen, acapulco and zihuat. even taking our future furry friend jackie with us-a jack russell terrier. we have really missed having pets here.
    so does chichi mean something like chic? it also has another meaning in mexico. let’s just say, “dolly parton has gargantuan “chichis”.
    take care felipe.


    1. teresa, glad we are keeping it too. chichi means overly elaborate or pretentious in english, so perhaps i used it a little badly. it’s a very swanky area.

      you are correct that chichis are boobies in mexican spanish.


    1. Ms. Shoes: That’s nice too. There are lots of great areas in Mexico City, but so far I’d choose Polanco. The sidewalks are smoother than in, say, Coyoacán.


  2. Hola Felipe!
    I’ve found that getting around by Metrobús or Metro is easier than taxis, which get just as stuck in traffic as any other car. But the real trick is to avoid going at evening rush hour (4:30-ish to about 8:30 ish or a bit later), and/or knowing which lines get completely packed and trying to work around them.

    As for housing fantasies, mine is to live in a penthouse near where I ran into you. The views can be fantastic, and you don’t have to worry much about security, unlike houses which are relatively easy to break into.

    Drop me a line next time you come; would love to see you both.


    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where we just learned that the Metrobús ticket dispensers run on Windows XP. ¡Ay, Güey!


    1. Kim: The great advantage to taxis is that you have a reasonably comfy place to sit. That’s the deciding factor for me. I don’t care all that much about how long it takes from Point A to Point B as long as I can sit comfortably. Sometimes you can sit comfortably on a pesero or the Metro or Metrobus, but often you cannot. You’re a tall guy. You know about these things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, I have to admit that I find it more comfortable to either walk or stand on the Metrobús or Metro. I find the taxis very cramped and uncomfortable in general. But to each his own, they say. Saludos!


  3. Wow, that incredible bakery, I think I would have died and gone to heaven if there.

    Of course, I also get excited about street vendors with baked goodies.


    1. Brian: How right you are. The place is incredible. It wasn’t our first visit there, but we had not visited in a few years. It was fun to return.

      I like street vendors too. I’m especially fond of a couple of places here that sell shrimp cocktails.


    2. I greatly enjoy when, having purchased enough baked goods to warrant a cardboard “charola” (tray), the checkout woman wraps the tray in the logo–printed Ideal paper, then pulls down cotton twine from an overhead spool to tie up your package.

      In terms of baked foods quality, the Ideal is just a little better than average, (there are newer, better, Nortemore “artisanal” bakeries in CDMX, especially in Colonia Roma.) But the Ideal is a fantastic, must–see landmark bakery.

      Don Cuevas (Soy un panadero jubilado)


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