sergi marzabal is from Barcelona but has lived in Mexico DF since 2013. He created the website, www.catalansalmon.cat.
Why did you leave Catalonia?
My wife was offered the opportunity to move to Mexico. We had already lived three years in Dublin, so living abroad was nothing new to us and we like to know about new cultures. We have to say though that it was not that easy, the truth is that much of what we hear about Mexico in Catalonia is a little off-putting, but thanks to the network we created, catalansalmon.com, we made contact with Catalans living there and they reassured us.
Why did you choose Mexico City?
Well, the company offered my wife a position there. We find it stimulating.
How long have you lived there?
Almost two years now.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?
The employment situation in Catalonia is so terrible that any other possibility is better. But still, here you work many more hours than in Catalonia.
What do you think is the best thing about living in Mexico?
It might sound typical, but being able to know another culture is a priceless experience. For example, the culture about death in Mexico is very different from ours. For several reasons, but for them, the “Day of the Dead” is very different from ours. In fact there are two days in a row, a “Day of the Dead” and another day of “Dead Children”. For Mexicans they are important festive celebrations and they remember the dead by placing small altars in homes adorned with things their dead liked: food, flowers, colours, gifts, drinks ... and lots and lots of skulls. It is very different from our way of understanding death as something sad, painful and intimate. It is shocking to us. Seeing these things makes you think that culture is much more than just books.
What highlights do you recommend for a first time visit?
Mexico City is a city of 25 million people. There are so many things to do that I would not know where to start. But a visit to the spectacular Tehotihuacan pyramids, 50km from the city is a must. Incredible!
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
There are thousands of places to visit in Mexico. But if you have time you should not miss the beaches of the Caribbean, Riviera Maya, Holbox, Tulum or Chichen Itza, everything in Yucatan. Spectacular!
What do you miss from home?
Punctuality, formality and efficiency. In Mexico someone will say they are coming to fix something on Monday and not turn up until Tuesday, the following week! After a while, when someone arrives after only a few hours, you admire their punctuality!
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
We came for three years and have been here for two but expats do not have an expiry date. We have no definite date of return and in fact it would not be a big deal to even go somewhere else. In Catalonia, very important things are happening and living through that is important, but living overseas Catalans also have a very important task of spreading the word.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
It depends on what you want to spend. In DF food is extremely varied. It can be very cheap (100 pesos) or a little more expensive (from 500 to 1000). But in Condesa there are many good restaurants. My favourite is Rojo Bistrot.
Where would you have a special dinner for two?
There is a hacienda that is incredible in San Angel, called “San Angel Inn”. It's perfect for a business meal, but you need to book.
When is the best time of year for a visit?
The climate in Mexico City is fantastic, neither cold nor hot. The problem is the rainy season, when it rains every day, last year for eight months. Perhaps March is the best time of the year, before the rains start.
What is the best-kept secret about the area?
The museums and theatres and cultural activities. There are all kinds, everywhere and for all tastes. But if you have time, do not miss Tulum on the Ribera Maya. A kind of Formentera in the Caribbean. Incredible.