Recently, I was heading out of my apartment to meet up with a friend named Blayde.
He lives in some other part of the city and we felt like meeting up.
Normally, I am an expert on using the metro in Mexico City where we both live.
I always use the metro if I can in most cases.
So, as I was in bed going through Youtube and Facebook and was ready to leave the house anyway in an hour, I noticed something odd.
On a local Facebook group for people who live in the specific neighborhood (colonia) that I live in within Iztapalapa, there happened to be a protest that people were commenting on.
I didn't see what they were protesting about initially but you can see it here.
Manifestantes bloquean Calzada Ermita Iztapalapa
Anyway, they were protesting and someone on Facebook said that the nearby metro is closed or that access is blocked seemingly?
Or that, at the very least, some streets are blocked and access might be harder to the metro depending on where you are coming from.
Regardless of if I'd have been able to get around the protesters somehow....
You know -- like sprint past them or something and punch anyone in the face that gets in my way?
I instead went for the safer option and just ordered an Uber an hour later to where we were going to meet up.
Because, even if I could get around the protesters, you never know if shit can go violent.
I remember one incident that I wrote about here where some protesters at some feminist protest tried stealing my phone and I almost got physical with one of them.
It reminds me of my days in college where a Canadian guy I knew named Darrell -- who was very well traveled -- would always advise people to "never visit the protests you see abroad. Leave right away even if it is peaceful."
Only because shit can get violent quickly and you don't want to be one of those cases where a foreign tourist or whatever gets the shit kicked out of him by a group of protesters.
Given my curiosity about shit, I'll admit that I've been the exact opposite where I like to know what they are protesting about.
And, while none of those were ever violent and nothing bad happened to me, you get the idea that obviously shit can happen.
Like perhaps if the police get violent even.
Anyway, for that day, I figured I'd get an Uber and leave it at that.
But that wasn't the only benefit I have gotten from joining those local Facebook groups for certain neighborhoods.
Way of Life
Similarly, I remember living in another neighborhood of Mexico City known as Pedregal de Santo Domingo.
I was part of various groups for that neighborhood.
And being part of them does give you a window into activities, events and whatever else local to the neighborhood.
If you truly wish to get a deeper look into specific neighborhoods that you travel to and/or live in, I'd strongly recommend you join the local Facebook groups for those neighborhoods.
For example, I remember reading people posting on there about one time they tried lynching a thief in the neighborhood and kicked the shit out of him supposedly.
Which, as you can read here, is a thing that sometimes Latin Americans do given they don't trust the police to do their job and just resort to fucking the criminals up themselves.
To one time someone posted something about a local "mini street event" on some other street up north in the neighborhood where there was music, games in the street, etc.
Almost like a mini carnival of sorts.
And, like I said, sometimes you get news also.
Like I wrote here about something I saw in the street where a cop ran over a random dude for seemingly no reason (though he probably wanted a bribe).
And that I later found out, on Facebook, that some people posted videos of what happened and I could see the incident happen then.
Above all, joining local Facebook groups is definitely not a substitute for going outside and experiencing the neighborhood you moved to obviously.
But it does help you enjoy it more by letting you know certain things ahead of time.
Like maybe a protest in an area that you can choose to attend and learn about (or avoid completely).
Perhaps someone is posting a warning about a local thief or somebody that is dangerous and seen in the neighborhood (happens a lot down here).
Maybe it's something less dangerous like a notice about some event happening in the neighborhood.
And there's a few other obvious benefits too.
Looking for Rent?
This is another obvious one so we won't go too much into it.
But if you plan on living in certain neighborhoods, it could help a lot to join them and post something about how you are looking for rent.
Some of the neighborhoods I have moved to don't have local Facebook groups for people advertising rent in those areas but they have local Facebook groups for people who live in them.
You could obviously post a comment in those broader "renta CDMX" groups but, for some neighborhoods that I have moved to, you are very unlikely to find someone offering a place for rent in THAT specific neighborhood because it's just not in demand by everyone else in the group and you are the only one thinking of moving there.
Buying & Selling
When I lived in Pedregal de Santo Domingo, I sold some old gym weights through a local Facebook group I was part of for that neighborhood.
Obviously, I don't have car to deliver them to other points in the city and I wouldn't expect someone in Roma Norte to pick them up and carry them by foot all the way back home.
So obviously it's just nice to be part of these groups so you can sell some old shit.
Also, for some neighborhoods like the one I am in right now in Iztapalapa, there's not a shortage of food places outside to pick from but more informal neighborhoods do tend to have places selling food that you can't find on Google Maps.
Be it some mom and pop place that sells food out of their garage.
When I first lived in Pedregal de Santo Domingo over 2 years ago, the landlord of the place ended up selling hamburgers, fries and other foods from his garage that you wouldn't have known about looking up food options in that neighborhood on Google.
While these neighborhoods also sometimes have people putting up fliers advertising their food on specific streets, it helps to be part of these local Facebook groups so you can be more knowledgeable about places offering shit that you wouldn't find out otherwise unless you stumbled across them.
For example, I don't seem to have good luck finding a decent hamburger in my specific neighborhood of Iztapalapa.
I've tried on Uber Eats but none of the hamburgers I've had were THAT great.
They were OK. Worthy of trying. Not bad.
But nothing too amazing.
Tonight in a few hours, I'm going to have some lady deliver me a double meat, bacon hamburger that isn't from Uber Eats but from some local posting on a Facebook group page for the neighborhood.
Not only is the food cheaper than what you get on Uber Eats usually but also it just gives you more options obviously that you might've not heard about otherwise and, in this case, I do need more options for hamburgers.
Just haven't had good luck so far finding a really nice one in this neighborhood.
So we'll see.
Anything to Add?
Above all, it's just a minor tip for those who travel abroad.
Seems obvious, doesn't it?
But I find a lot of foreigners seem to, for whatever reason, ignore local Facebook groups.
They might know about the Facebook groups for expats or digital nomads.
But a lot (though not all) don't even think about local rental Facebook groups like "CDMX Renta."
Let alone the groups for specific neighborhoods they move to.
Especially if you plan on moving outside of "the bubble" in Mexico City or whatever part of Latin America you are in, I'd join those Facebook groups for the specific neighborhood you are moving to.
Not just the city itself but the specific neighborhood.
It really does add a lot of value to your trip and experience being down here.
Anyway, it's just a small and obvious tip for living abroad.
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Thanks for reading.