This will be a semi-regular series where I discuss “Mexican” brews in a semi-autobiographical way.

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A list of commandments: “Don’t wear shorts. Pack your stuff into a backpack instead of a suitcase. And keep your discman in your backpack until we get into the taxi.”

It was my freshman year of high school and my dad had bought us tickets to see the Rockets play the Raptors for a preseason game in Mexico City. He had an apartment in D.F. (Distrito Federal, aka, Mexico City) and would basically fly in and work there during the week and fly back home for the weekends. The city never really entered my consciousness–I was too busy trying to navigate my own high school bullshit. Nevertheless, it was an exciting proposition that was wholeheartedly supported by my mom. I think she was trying to get my dad and I to do more “bonding” shit. Either way, I was packing for a Thursday through Sunday trip to this city that I’d only heard about in terms of violent crimes, kidnappings, and heavy pollution.

The plane ride was uneventful, but I distinctly remember flying into D.F. and noticing just how pretty it was: you first see lights in the distance but as you get closer you see this deep valley surrounded by mountains. In the middle is a massive metropolis. The airport–I see my dad, he gives me the bro hug, and we quickly walk our way outside the terminal where the taxi is waiting. More lights, windows down. It’s very cool for a fall south of the border. My dad tells the driver that it’s my first time there. In very fast Spanish, the driver tells me that it rains for about half an hour every day and that the valley regulates the temperature. In the foreground smaller brightly colored houses and shops; in the distance huge fucking skyscrapers. The apartment: sparsely but tastefully decorated. Mostly dark and, again, windows open. I envision myself one day having my own apartment just like it. Sleep with headphones blasting 2Pac.

Go to breakfast in the morning at a place called “100% Natural”. This would be way before hipsters would take hold of the word “organic”, but the food was great. Met some coworkers of my dad. Back to the apartment while he went to work, look at internet porn, then waited for gametime. Stadium is a massive domed structure called “Palacio de los deportes”. Meet with dad’s coworker and his wife (or girlfriend–can’t remember really). It was my first NBA game, but really, this was a whole different experience: turns out lots of Mexicans root for Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston sports teams. Lot’s of nachos and Fanta.

Halftime is like any other show, but separated by pro-cheerleaders and local cheerleaders. My introduction to women from Mexico was obvious, I guess, when my dad’s coworker asked if I was more interested in them than the game. Laughs ensued: though the joke was a bit obvious, I keep it to myself. Don’t remember much of the game, but I remember enjoying myself. Game ends and we all leave to meet up for a late dinner. Waiter comes around for drink order and asks what kind of beer everyone wants. I raise my hand to correct him and my dad puts my hand down and tells the waiter to give me what he’s having. A brown bottle with a gold label: doesn’t taste like nasty ass Natty Lite that my parents usually drink,” I think to myself. A slight tinge of…sweet hitting the back of my throat. Reminds me of molé for some reason. Dad pats me on the back as food arrives. People chatting and generally being nice. Another beer–I don’t really drink, nor would I seriously do so until my early 20’s. Head swimming. Lot’s of smiling and back pats, school and girlfriend questions. I really don’t like the last question, but I keep that one in my head.

Cab ride to the apartment–windows down again. Flickering lights. Every stoplight someone trying to sell newspapers, souvenirs, knick-knacks. I like the city and its colors. This is the furthest into Mexico I’d ever been, having spent most of my life along border towns. Into the apartment and straight to the couch. I wrap myself in a blanket and turn towards the open window: it’s raining lightly. The light casts strange shadows against the wall outside. My vision blurs and I close my eyes. Car horns, gates closing, dad snoring.

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