Friday, September 27, 2013

A beautiful day

Today was such a beautiful day! (Sorry, I didn't bring my camera out with me for photographic evidence.) The sky was so clear and blue and the clouds were big and white and fluffy. And the sky was so clear! (Did I already mention that one?) I could see the mountains in the distance! Everything looked so clear!

...And that's when you remember you've lived in the DF for a while now and this is noteworthy because 1. it's currently the rainy season and 2. even on non-rainy days the city isn't exactly known for it's great air quality.

It was a beautiful day though :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Article (and photos): Amazing aerial photos of Mexico City show that no natural boundaries can stand in the way of endless suburban sprawl

Amazing aerial photos of Mexico City show that no natural boundaries can stand in the way of endless suburban sprawl

Unbelievable photos that show Mexico City from above, demonstrate just what it means to be the most populous city in the Western Hemisphere.

The Mexican capital’s sprawling suburbs are home to 20 million souls with an astounding 25,400 people per square mile in the city. 

Endless rings of homes radiate out in ocean-like waves from the city center and Mexican photographer Pablo Lopez Muz has shot the phenomenon to dazzling effect.

‘In a megalopolis like Mexico City,’ says Lopez Muz, ‘constantly threatened by its incessant population growth and it´s lack of infrastructure, the relationship between man and space is ever so apparent.’

Hills and valleys aren’t allowed to stand in the way of human habitation here. Homes cover both and follow the rise and fall of the earth as far as the eye can see.

‘Flying over Mexico City has always been an overwhelming experience,’ says Lopez Muz, who took the photos from the cockpit of a tiny two-person plane. ‘For ages it seems like the urban landscape with no ending, continually spreading over the hills and flatlands of the city.’

Coming in Waves: Suburbia stretches almost endlessly outside Mexico City and plays home to 20 million people
Coming in Waves: Suburbia stretches almost endlessly outside Mexico City and plays home to 20 million people

Endless: Homes far out endlessly from Mexico City and undulate in waves of humanity for miles around, creating the most populous city in the Western hemisphere
Endless: Homes far out endlessly from Mexico City and undulate in waves of humanity for miles around, creating the most populous city in the Western hemisphere

    Sprawling: Hills and valleys don't stand in the way of expansion outside the Mexican capital. Homes simply follow the contours of the earth
    Sprawling: Hills and valleys don't stand in the way of expansion outside the Mexican capital. Homes simply follow the contours of the earth

    Hazy: Mexico City is also extremely polluted. Though smog has been drastically reduced in recent decades, an orangish fog often hands just above the sprawling city around the mountain peeks that surround it
    Hazy: Mexico City is also extremely polluted. Though smog has been drastically reduced in recent decades, an orangish fog often hands just above the sprawling city around the mountain peeks that surround it

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Fruit from the tianguis

    Today's purchases from the tianguis (open air market held on certain days - in the case of my neighborhood on Mondays):

    • 5 bananas
    • 1 kilo = 7 tunas (prickly pear - the fruit from a cactus) 
    • 5 golden plums
    • 1 container of strawberries
    • 3 oranges (thrown in for free) 
    • 1 papaya
    • 1/4 of a very large watermelon
    Yum! All for $155 pesos ($12.11 USD).

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Article: Biden's visit to Mexico: what you should know, Joe

    Biden's visit to Mexico: what you should know, Joe

    Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto, was billed as a bold reformer. In reality, he acts like a corrupt, authoritarian oligarch

    When Vice-President Joseph Biden travels to Mexico this week to meet with the country's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, he will not be speaking with an enlightened democratic leader but a representative of the nation's corrupt oligarchy. The widespread image of Peña Nieto as a bold reformist struggling against the forces of nostalgic reaction is about as accurate as Vladimir Putin's presentation of Bashar al-Assad as a distinguished statesman.
    After only ten months in power, Peña Nieto has driven the economy into a wallignited widespread social protestramped up human rights violations and allowed violence and corruption to spin out of control. These failures have expanded the chasm between the political class and civil society in a way that makes Mexico increasingly look like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador before the rise of Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa. The levels of citizen trust in government have reached record lows and enormous protests led by teachers, students and peasants have erupted throughout the country.
    But the outcome in Mexico could be much more explosive than in these South American nations. While Chávez, Morales and Correa played by the rules and reached power through democratic elections, in Mexico the opposition is quickly losing faith in the possibility of achieving social change by electoral means. The fraud and vast irregularities committed during the last two presidential elections, in 2006 and 2012, has led many to look for alternative ways to express their demands.
    After the failure of the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1980s to bring the peace and prosperity promised by the "Washington Consensus" to Latin America, most of the region turned to the political left in search of a more socially conscious alternative. Over the last 15 years, almost every country in the region has joined the "pink tide" of social-democratic governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru, in addition to Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.
    Colombia and Mexico stand out as glaring exceptions to this trend. Both countries today remain solidly within the neoliberal framework and are led by presidents who anxiously kowtow to Washington and are quick to lean on violent force to crush social or political opposition. The recent explosion of social mobilization in both countries should therefore not surprise anyone. Decades of pent-up grievances are finally rising to the surface and demanding to be heard.
    Demographic trends amplify this tendency in Mexico. Urbanization, increased education levels, greater accessibility of information technology and a boom in the youth population have led to a more conscious civil society. Although television and radio continue to be asmonochromatic and authoritarian as they were during the old days of Mexico's "perfect dictatorship", it is no longer necessary to hide in the hinterlands to develop networks of resistance – as was the case with the guerrilla movements of the 1970s. Anti-establishment organizing can now take place in the light of day.
    In this context, Mexico's Peña Nieto has chosen the wrong governance strategy. Instead of reaching out to society and addressing Mexico's great problems of inequality and impunity, he has stubbornly insisted on consolidating the neoliberal project by dismantling the remnants of Mexico's social pact inherited from the country's historic revolution of 1910.
    As president-elect, Peña Nieto worked with outgoing president Felipe Calderón to push labor reform through Congress that limits the ability of workers to defend themselves against unjust firing practices and expands both temporary employment and subcontracting. Once in office, the new president moved quickly to pass education reform that will allow him to summarily fire hundreds of thousands of experienced elementary and secondary school teachers throughout the country.
    This attack on labor rights has a political motive. The Mexican teachers' union is the largest in Latin America, with 1.2 million members, and the unionized working class is typically one of the most important voices for the redistribution of wealth and strengthening social policy. The rural teachers from the neglected southern states of Oaxaca, Michoacán and Guerrero, who are protesting today in Mexico City, have a particularly strong tradition of community activism and political mobilization, which goes back almost a century.
    Peña Nieto has presented his attack on workers as an effort to stop corrupt union leaders. But in fact, the new president has consolidated the corporatist and clientelistic control over the unions. For instance, the jailed leader of the teachers' union, Elba Esther Gordillo, has been replaced by her righthand man, Juan Díaz de la Torre, who has faithfully continued with her corrupt and authoritarian practices.
    Peña Nieto has also failed to live up to his promise to create a new independent anti-corruption agency to root out malfeasance throughout government. The new president is apparently more interested in consolidating his personal power than in democratizing public affairs.
    Peña Nieto's second step, after weakening the working class, has been to shore up his support among Mexico's oligarchs. The president first pushed through a telecommunications reform, the central purpose of which is to allow him to better distribute the enormous and ever-expanding pie of this sector between his friends and allies. His next move is to privatize Mexico´s oil industry. Peña Nieto recently presented a proposal to reform the Mexican constitution, which would allow him to sideline Mexico's state oil company, Pemex, and divide up the country's vast oil reserves for the profit of an array of transnational oil corporations. Such a move would dangerously undermine one of the central foundations of Mexico's modern social pact, by drastically reducing fiscal revenues and allowing foreign interests to control one of the most strategic areas of the economy.
    Meanwhile, violence, corruption and impunity have expanded. Over 1,000 people continue to fall dead each month due to the "drug war"the number of kidnappings has exploded, and both provocateurs andarbitrary arrests are now commonplace at marches and protests.
    Under Peña Nieto's watch, a cast of doubtful characters has been freed from jail, including the convicted assassin of a DEA agent, an army general accused of links to narco-traffickers, and a French woman accused of participating in multiple kidnappings. Also, $19m have recently been returned to the brother of one of Mexico's most corrupt past presidents, Carlos Salinas, who also happens to be Peña Nieto's most important political mentor.
    In contrast, indigenous leadersrural teacherscommunity police andstudents have been systematically attacked, jailed and threatened. In the most recent display of arbitrary force, this past Friday, 13 September, federal police forcibly removed protesting teachers from Mexico's central Zocalo square, in clear violation of their right to assembly and freedom of speech.
    The police brutally beat numerous activists and arbitrarily jailed dozens of others, including a distinguished economics professor from Montana, Wesley Marshall, who happened to be passing through the area. Such actions have led to increased social discontent and prepare the ground for a scenario similar to what has occurred recently in Turkey and Brazil, with massive street protests.
    President Barack Obama has let down the tens of millions of Mexicans who live and work in the United States by having so far failed to get his promised immigration reform through Congress. But now, he has equally failed more than 110 million Mexicans who live south of the Río Grande through his alliance with and support for Mexico's corrupt leaders – first Calderón, and now Peña Nieto.
    The people of North America should not be fooled by the embraces and praises that will be exchanged this week between Joe Biden and Enrique Peña Nieto. The solutions to our common problems will not come from such hypocritical political discourse, but from creative binational citizen action.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    A German/American lunch

    I had almost forgotten about this one....

    Back in April Edson, Edson's parents, Rabea and I had gone to the Pumas v. América fútbol (soccer) game. We made a bet and decided that the loser(s) would have to make lunch. It didn't go so well for the Pumas, so Rabea and I made a German / American lunch.

    (Side note: The Pumas have been pretty horrible recently and it doesn't look like it's going to turn around any time soon. I'll just cling to the memory of when they were the League Champions in Spring 2011. They'll come back.... one day. I've had practice at sticking it out and being a loyal fan through horrible seasons, awaiting a comeback-- I am an Orioles fan after all).

    We planned the lunch to coincide with the Champions League Final - it seemed appropriate since two German teams (Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund) were playing.

    with our country appropriate ingredients: pickles from Germany
    and Old Bay from the US Maryland
    I made shrimp salad sandwiches - with Old Bay, of course. Rabea made Bauernfrühstück (Farmer's breakfast) with potatoes, eggs, bacon, onion, garlic, and parsley, accompanied by pickles. Apparently it's also called "Hoppelpoppel" in Berlin, which is a rather funny name in my opinion....

    We also enjoyed German beer.... out of a Baltimore Orioles mug. Just trying to keep the Germany and US theme going :)

    our lunch - yum! 
    Funny story. We bought 3 different German beers. I tried a bit of each and they were tasty, but since I didn't have much of a reference I didn't remember what they were. Fast forward to July: I went to Hofbräuhaus in Munich and enjoyed their beer (....and pretzel, and sausage, and kaiserschmarnn.... Eventually I'll write about my adventures in Europe, I promise!). Now back in the DF I just rediscovered these photos and we had shared a bottle of Hofbräuhaus beer at our German/ American lunch! I had no idea! 

    Why I blog...

    When I started my blog in July of 2010, I wanted to keep family and friends up to date with my adventures in Mexico, but also share a perspective of Mexico that doesn't always make it to the US with the negative news. I was learning just how much Mexico has to offer and I wanted to share that with others. Blogging has also become a way for me to document my experiences for myself so that I'll be able to look back at them in the future. 

    Recently I've received two comments, out of the blue, and I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that I have an audience (well, 2 people at least) I hadn't expected when I started my blog. 

    The first comment was from a "a 17 year old kid from Mexico who has lived in the United States since [he/she] was 3." He/she said: 

    "I'm a 17 year old kid from Mexico who has lived in the United states since I was 3. As I'm getting closer to graduating high school (I'll be a junior come September) i have actually been thinking about going back to Mexico to further my education In UNAM. I came across your blog not long ago by accident and I right away got hooked by it ( I have read all your posts about mexico within a week). what advice might you have about attending UNAM and living in a completely different country (I'm Mexican but have only been there twice after i left so Mexico for me in many ways is still new especially Mexico city). thank you"

    Later I received a comment from someone originally from Maltrata, Veracruz (where I go for my thesis research and an awesome family has adopted me as one of their own). He/she commented on one of the posts about traditions in Maltrata:  

    "very interesting I am from maltrata but I havent really lived there spent a lot time outside of Veracruz this is helping learn more things about my hometown"

    To both of you, whoever you are, thank you for reading and for commenting. I always love hearing feedback, but I am especially glad that my blog has been of interest to you. I never imagined my posts would be able to help people from Mexico learn about their town or country.

    And to all readers out there, thank you for reading!

    Until we meet again...

    Today two friends are leaving Mexico to start their adventures in Brazil. 

    I met Tatiana my first (or second?) week in Mexico and we soon became part of a group of international friends that hung out, explored the city, traveled, celebrated birthdays, etc. Some of my first adventures in Mexico were with Tati (such as karaoke with new friendsFrida Kahlo's Blue HouseXochimilcoAnahuacalliDay of the Dead in Mixquic, and other adventures). She soon met Abel, which means I met him as well not too much later. 

    While I've been here for a little over 3 years now, Tati was here as an exchange student for a year, went back to Colombia for a year, and for the past year was back in Mexico working.  

    photo from their "going away" lunch 

    Today they say goodbye to Mexico and hello to their new adventures in Brazil. I wish you two a safe journey and the best of luck! See you in Brazil!  ;)

    Article: "Mexico's Teacher Uprising"

    Mexico’s Teacher Uprising

    Special Report
    September 9, 2013
    Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
    Center for Latin American and Border Studies
    New Mexico State UniversityLas Cruces, New Mexico

    Conflict and struggle are key words at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year in Mexico. After a summer break, the controversy over education reform laws promoted by the Pena Nieto administration and backed by the country’s major political parties is back at center stage.

    In recent days, tens of thousands of teachers and their allies have taken to the nation’s streets, plazas and highways to register their firm opposition to the education reform package, including the professional service law approved last week by the Mexican Congress that establishes a new educator evaluation system requiring teachers to pass No Child Left Behind-like standardized tests. President Enrique Pena Nieto hailed the new law as a “step forward” in improving Mexico’s educational system.

    Backers of the measure contend it will raise teaching standards and clean up a corrupt job assignment system, both of which form a “notoriously dysfunctional public education system” in the words of Univision.

    For their part, opponents decry the reform as an outright attack on labor rights, a culturally insensitive policy for an economically and ethnically diverse nation, and an instrument to cleanse dissidents from the ranks of the teaching profession.  Protesters demand the abrogation of the Pena Nieto educational reform.

    In the first days of September, protesting teachers disrupted traffic to international airports in Mexico City and tourist-popular Baja California Sur, seized highway toll booths in Chihuahua, Puebla and Veracruz,  slowed traffic crossing the Bridge of the Americas between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, blockaded  Cancun’s hotel zone, and “collapsed” the Chiapas state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez for six hours on Friday, September 6.  Protests have broken out in at least 22 states, or more than two-thirds of the national territory.

    In Mexico City, teachers held a read-in at a historic monument. Among the shouts heard emanating from the educators: “Read to be free!” “Books against barbarism!  “We teachers read!”
    Significantly, the movement has expanded beyond the traditional strongholds of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a large dissident force within the official SNTE union, and spread to areas not usually known as hotbeds of activism. In the small Pacific coastal state of Nayarit, 17,000 teachers rallied against the professional service law last week, while thousands of educators staged a weekend march in Merida, Yucatan. In some areas of Mexico, teachers have declared strikes, including in the usually quiet state of Campeche.

    First erupting last February,  the now more than six-month-old teacher movement has acquired a fresh sense of urgency and a rejuvenated burst of energy.

    The CNTE proposes that instead of the Federal Education Secretariat as stipulated by the professional service law, teacher evaluation should be carried out collectively by school principals, educators and parents.
    Further, protesting educators complain that the new education laws ignore pressing problems like classroom overcrowding and decaying school buildings. Another common grievance of  teachers is that they were not consulted in the drafting of either the primary education reform law that was passed by the Congress last December or the newly-approved professional service legislation.

    “In order to carry out an education reform, one first has to take all the necessities into account, beginning with the (school) infrastructure,” said a member of the Resissste movement in Ciudad Juarez.

    Teacher militancy has provoked counter-reactions by sectors of society.  Some groups of parents demand a re-opening of shut-down schools, and even the use of the soldiers as substitute teachers to break the strike. However, contingents of parents and students have joined the protest movement in Veracruz and other states.

    Lawmaker Ricardo Anaya, president of the lower house of the Mexican Congress, implored federal and local officials in Mexico City to take action against teachers who’ve repeatedly filled streets with demonstrations in the Mexican capital.

    “I am definitely convinced that minorities can’t be taking the city hostage, and much less the (political) powers,”  Anaya said. “In this Chamber of Deputies, we have been very clear in saying that everyone has a right to be heard, but there is a limit and that limit is the right of third parties.”  State officials in Chihuahua and Baja California have announced that they will dock pay and levy other sanctions against striking teachers.

    “We will not allow teachers to halt work and damage the education of the little ones through demonstrations,”  said Pablo Espinoza Flores,  Chihuahua state education secretary. “We accept their right to demonstrate their disagreement, but let them do it outside working hours.”

    Pedro Gomez, Chiapas teacher leader, blamed the government for escalating tensions. “The social explosion is getting nearer, and we are not provoking it-the federal government is,” Gomez insisted.

    The CNTE and its allies are busy organizing a “national civic strike” for Wednesday, September 11, with support from scores of other unions and social organizations.

    More border crossing blockades, toll-booth occupations and school shut-downs are possibly in the works. The rising teacher protest coincides with emerging protests over gasoline price hikes, proposed border zone tax increases and the Pena Nieto administration’s  energy reform legislation awaiting action in Congress.

    “This is a fraternal call,” said Oaxaca protest leader Ruben Nunez.  “We are building the unitary front and going together to the national strike and civic stoppage in this season of resistance and civil disobedience.”

    Bubbling up from below in an ample stew of social protest, the convergence of causes is promising a very interesting fall. Ciudad Juarez sociologist and political commentator Carlos Murillo noted in a recent column that the fall season has long figured prominently in the political bio-rhythms of his country.

    According to Murillo, September is the time of national independence, October the anniversary of the 1968 student revolt and massacre, and November the month of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

    “The autumn has a profound significance in the historic memory of Mexicans,” Murillo wrote. “If some important event in the life of the country is going to happen, many possibilities exist that it will happen in this season of the year.”

    Some warn of repression against the burgeoning teacher movement.

    “This might not occur in Mexico City, but it could happen in the states,” wrote Jesusa Cervantes, a columnist and political analyst for Proceso newsweekly. “There, far from the reflectors, in faraway communities, with a communications media more co-opted than in the center of the country,  (repression) is easier to do.”

    Sources: El Sur/Agencia Reforma, September 8, 2013. El Sol de Tijuana, September 7, 2013.  Article by Feliciano Castro Loya.  La Jornada, September 4, 6 7, 9, 2013. Articles by Emir Olivares, Roberto Garduno,  Enrique Mendez, Arturo Jimenez,  E. Gomez, Karina Aviles correspondents, and editorial staff. Proceso/Apro, September 4, 6 and 8, 2013.  Articles by Isain Mandujano, Rosa Santana, Sergio Caballero, Arturo Osorio, Patricia Mayorga,  Jesusa Cervantes, and editorial staff., September 6, 2013. Article by Carlos Murillo Gonzalez., September 6 and 8, 2013. Univision, September 4, 2013. El Universal, September 4, 2013. El Diario de Juarez, September 4, 6 and 8, 2013.  Articles by Francisco Javier Chavez, Alejandra Gomez, Excelsior,  Agencia Reforma, and CNN. La Opinion, September 5, 2013. Article by Gardenia Mendoza Aguilar.  El Semanario de Nuevo Mexico/Agencia Reforma, September 5, 2013. Article by Enrique Lomas. La Jornada (Guerrero edition), September 4, 2013. Article by Margena de la O.

    Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
    Center for Latin American and Border Studies
    New Mexico State University
    Las Cruces, New Mexico

    For a free electronic subscription

    Sunday, September 8, 2013


    A few weekends ago Edson made dinner for Rabea and I, replicating a dish we'd eaten at a taquería (place for tacos) near his house. We had "bistecate": tacos with a mixture of bistec (steak) and aguacate (avocado). Yum!


    Another visit to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul

    A few weekends ago I made my third visit to the Frida Kahlo museum in Coyoacán, accompanying Edson and Rabea on their first visit to the Casa Azul (Blue House), where Kahlo was born and lived on and off throughout her life.

    There's a new exhibit (not sure how new it actually is, but new since the last time I was there) that has some of Frida's clothing, braces / corsets, and accessories, which I thought was pretty interesting.

    "Frida and Diego lived in this house 1929-1954"

    Becca and Edson as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

    You can read about my other visits here and here.

    More awesome pancakes

    I went back to Hotcakes Artísticos in Coyoacán and this time I introduced Rabea to their awesome pancake designs. I had a Minion from the movie Despicable Me and she had the Green Pig from Angry Birds. 

    my Minion pancake - note the "R" for "Rebecca" 

    You can see photos and a video from my first visit to Hotcakes Artísticos here.

    Coyoacán Market

    Edson and I went to the Coyoacán Market for brunch one morning. After realizing I had never documented for the blog, we snapped a few photos to share.

    We ate at Tostadas Coyoacán - the original tostadas place in the market. The best way I can describe a tostada is like the hard, yellow taco shell that's sold in the U.S. (and doesn't exist in Mexico), but flat and circular. You can put a number of ingredients on top of the tostada: chicken, chicken with mole, tuna, steak, shrimp, ceviche, etc. Depending on what you choose, it might have lettuce and cream (it's not sour cream and it's not a sweet cream, it's just.... crema) on top as well. It's generally messy and delicious. The guys at Tostada Coyoacán work so fast preparing the orders - it's impressive to watch them.

    The market itself has a bit of everything. There are some places to eat - such as Tostadas Coyoacán. There are stands that sell poultry, vegetables, fruits, seeds and spices, or sweets. You can also find flowers, piñatas, handicrafts, items for your house, costumes, and more.

    Here are a few photos:

    Dear "17 year old kid from Mexico" living in the US...

    I received the following comment on a post right after I returned from Europe: 

    "I'm a 17 year old kid from Mexico who has lived in the United states since I was 3. As I'm getting closer to graduating high school (I'll be a junior come September) i have actually been thinking about going back to Mexico to further my education In UNAM. I came across your blog not long ago by accident and I right away got hooked by it ( I have read all your posts about mexico within a week). what advice might you have about attending UNAM and living in a completely different country (I'm Mexican but have only been there twice after i left so Mexico for me in many ways is still new especially Mexico city). thank you"

    So, "17 year old kid from Mexico" living in the US (and anyone else who might have a similar question....) : 

    Sorry for taking so long to respond to your question. In part, I haven't made much time for blogging since I've been back in the DF, but mostly I haven't been entirely sure how to respond to your question. 

    I can speak a bit from personal experience about visiting or living in a foreign country. I'm been in Mexico for 3 years, and I have also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 5 months and visited Costa Rica and Zambia / Botswana for a month each. My best advice for anyone going to live in a new country would be to go into it with an open mind. Things will be different. Some things will be "better" and some will be "worse" than what you're used to. Before you judge or write things off, give yourself time to experience what's around you. The experience of being in a new place and out of your comfort zone will open your eyes and teach you things about yourself and make you rethink what you had accepted as "the norm." Even things you don't like, that frustrate you, can serve as a learning experience.

    If the question is if it's worth it to visit and get to know Mexico better, then definitely. Mexico has so much to offer: it's so rich in culture and history, there are so many beautiful, diverse places to visit, and the food is awesome. 

    However, coming to live here - specifically in the DF - and attending the UNAM is a much bigger commitment and I feel like it really depends on the individual and if it's the right fit or not for you.

    A few things to consider:

    • The DF is a monster of a city. That means there is always something to see, something to do, museums, restaurants, sporting events, etc. However, that also means that traffic is a constant and it will take you a long time to get anywhere.
    • This might be obvious, but how is your Spanish (listening, reading, writing)? 
    • The UNAM is an internationally recognized university. It's a public university, which here in Mexico means that it's free (or maybe something like 2 pesos a semester or year for undergrad students?). 
    • The UNAM, much like the DF, is huge: it has something like 300,000 students (including the high schools associated with UNAM and the undergraduate and postgraduate students), which unfortunately means that there's a lot of bureaucracy and things aren't necessarily efficient (on the bright side, you learn a lot of patience....). 
    • Whereas in the US you can usually be accepted to a University and later decide your major, here you are accepted directly into a school / major. This means that from the beginning you take classes that have to do with your major and not general education classes like you probably would in the US (you could argue the point that it's better to focus strictly on your major or that it's better to be more well-rounded with some general education classes outside your major). This also means that changing majors basically means starting over and it's much harder to have two majors since they are completely separate studies here. Also, "minors" don't exist here.
    • A lot of majors require you to write a thesis to graduate, which is not usually the case in the US (though I think some majors now have different options for graduation - thesis, exam, based on grades, etc).
    • If you're interested in law or medicine, in Mexico these are undergraduate majors (different than in the US where you have to graduate from college before going to Law School or Med School). However I'm not sure if you could practice outside of Mexico? 
    • It depends a bit on what major you choose and what school ("facultad") you're in within the UNAM, but the UNAM is generally pretty liberal (and in some cases to the point of radical). You'll probably hear a lot more about Marx and problems with capitalism than you would at most universities in the US.

    I hope that helps, or at least gives you something to think about. If you have more questions, feel free to comment or to leave an email address where I can reach you.

    Whatever you choose, I would definitely recommend a visit to Mexico!