Posted on March 30, 2012 by Laura Nazimiec
A big thanks to Laura Nazimiec of Go Mexico Guide for contributing the following post as the March 30th Travel Instigator. Stay tuned for a feature post and Q and A from a new adventurous female traveler the 15th and 30th of every month.
You may be surprised when I tell you that my favorite place to spend a Sunday morning in Mexico City is along the Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s normally traffic-clogged main thoroughfare.
This is a roadway that sees tens of thousands of vehicles on an average day, in a city where pedestrians and cyclists are rarely afforded the right of way.
After a long week of sitting in traffic, fighting for standing room on the Metro and trying to cross the street as impatient motorists stop within inches of my thigh, you’d think a busy boulevard would be the last place I’d want to spend my weekend and normally you’d be right.
But on Sundays, all of that changes.
Without cars, trucks and buses honking and spewing out exhaust, the Paseo de la Reforma becomes an almost tranquil place; couples pose for photos on benches shaped like card towers, parents push babies in strollers, and people slow down just long enough to admire the jacaranda trees with their delicate purple flowers blooming along the boulevard.
Of course, there are also the cyclists (and skaters and joggers). It’s estimated that tens of thousands of cyclists pedal along this route each week, taking in the sights.
And it’s not just city residents who come out to de-stress from the week that was and enjoy a car-free day in the capital, you’ll also see plenty of tourists out sightseeing and even a few photographers hoping to capture some of the city’s most iconic images without a taxi or pesero ruining the shot.
After all, this isn’t just any city street. This is Mexico City’s grandest promenade, where you’ll find monuments to Aztec emperors, Spanish conquistadors and the famous Ángel de la Independencia.
It’s all part of Paseo Dominical Muévete en Bici, Mexico City’s weekly street closure program that was launched back in 2007 as part of an ongoing effort to introduce more green initiatives in Mexico City.
Muevete en Bici takes place every Sunday from 8am until 2pm, and for six glorious hours the Paseo de la Reforma and several streets throughout the historic center of Mexico City are closed to traffic.
The 23km (14 mile) car-free route extends all the way from La Villa in the north, through the historic center, and south along the Paseo de la Reforma to Chapultepec Park. On the last Sunday of each month the route is extended to form a 35km (20 mile) car-free circuit called the Ciclotón.
There’s music along select sections of the route, beverage stations, bike loans and repairs, even fitness and yoga classes near El Ángel, all free of cost.
For me, it’s the perfect day out in Mexico City.
Q and A with Laura
You’ve got a pretty impressive corporate background in marketing and finance, and you’ve got your MBA. How did you use your past experience/knowledge to help with your career transition as a traveler and writer?
Having a business background has been helpful, especially when it comes to things like marketing and monetizing my blog, but writing about places and travel is a lot different than the type of work I used to do at the office. It’s been a challenging transition, but I’m lucky to be doing work that I’m passionate about and that I enjoy. I like to think that I’ll continue to learn and improve as I go.
With such extensive solo travel behind you, what do you think women gain from taking a big trip alone?
Since both my blog and travel writing are solo projects, I think it’s a common misconception that I’ve been traveling on my own when actually, I’ve been traveling as one half of a couple. Carlos and I met when we were living in Philadelphia and we’ve been together for eight years, including a year of backpacking and now two years together in Mexico City.
After traveling to so many places, why did you choose to make Mexico home?
I knew that I wanted to live in a Spanish speaking country so that I could learn the language, and Carlos is originally from Mexico and has family here, so Mexico seemed like the obvious choice. After wrapping up our trip, we decided to return to Mexico City because it had been one of our favorite destinations early on in our travels and also because it has so much to offer.
We knew that by staying in Mexico and taking advantage of the lower cost of living we would be able to focus on doing the kind of work that was important to us.
Do you remember the first time you were published after your career change? What was the article?
One of my first paying gigs was blogging as the Mexico City local expert for an online travel magazine called PlanetEye Traveler. I had just moved to Mexico City a few months earlier, and it was a great opportunity that gave me every excuse to get out and explore the city, travel, take lots of photos and step outside my comfort zone, as opposed to just sitting at a desk all day.
If Americans could gain one quality from the Mexican culture and vice versa, what would you wish it to be?
Something that really impresses me about people in Mexico City is how they’ll strike up conversations with strangers, on the street, in the market, on the Metro, it really doesn’t matter where and everyone seems happy to engage. I don’t notice that kind of thing happening nearly as often when I’m back in the States, and I think it would be nice to see more of that.
As for a quality I’d like to see more of in Mexico, probably a more efficient approach to getting things done. In Mexico even the simplest of tasks can be a time-consuming hassle. It’s rarely as easy as just making a phone call, submitting something online or throwing a check in the mail. It definitely takes some getting used to.
You’re one of those women who I envy because you are disciplined enough to get up early to run. Please, tell me something inspirational to help me do it too.
I’m always seeking out my own little bits of inspiration, but it’s really all about forming habits and being consistent. There are some days when I’d really rather just hit the snooze button, and some days I do. But working from home, I realized that I needed something to get me up and out of the apartment in the morning, otherwise it would be 5PM and I’d still be sitting at the computer in my PJs. Running helps me to clear my head and focus. It’s like meditation for me.
Getting started is definitely the hardest part. I’ve found that participating in a race every once in a while, even just a 5K, helps to keep the motivation up.
Could you share a favorite Mexican-inspired dish, snack, or drink that you love to make for yourself or guests?
That’s easy, Mexican aguas frescas. It’s really just water flavored with fruit or sometimes flowers like hibiscus. One of my favorites is agua de pepino, or cucumber limeade. It’s super easy to prepare, just water, cucumber, lime and sugar or honey in a blender. Sometimes I’ll also throw in a couple spoonfuls of chia seeds.
Where would you like to plan a trip that is outside of Mexico for the near future?
At the moment, I’m really looking forward to getting back home to the States and reconnecting with family and friends. It’s been about eight months since my last visit and it’ll probably be another eight months or so before I actually make it back there again, hopefully just in time for Thanksgiving.
Anyone in the world (dead or alive) as your next travel mate—who would you choose?
I’d probably have to say the travel partner I have now. We make a pretty great team and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
What is one moment from your early travels that reminds you of why you do what you do?
My first big international trip was my study abroad in Rome, Italy during my junior year of college. At the time I was a terribly inexperienced traveler and had no idea what to expect. My Italian was very basic. I didn’t do any research. I don’t think I even bought a guidebook. I just showed up for my flight and went, and it ended up being one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had.
Since that first trip, all I’ve wanted to do is travel and learn to speak a second language fluently. I feel really fortunate to be doing those things now.
Laura is a traveler, writer and runner living in Mexico City. Over the past ten years she’s traveled to more than 20 countries and across four continents. In 2008, she left behind a career in finance to travel in Latin America. Of all the countries she’s visited, her favorites include Italy, Argentina and of course, Mexico.
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