My camera was stolen in Mexico City.

As someone who lives in another huge city with a reputation for crime, I didn’t want to make a big deal about this on my blog. The theft happened because I let my guard down and someone took advantage of my carelessness. It could have happened in any city on earth.

Sadly though, it happened in Mexico City, which means: 1) I lost nearly all the Mexico City photos I had taken up until the theft, as I hadn’t backed up my memory card yet (another act of carelessness); and 2) I had to depend on iPhone photography for the remainder of my week in Mexico City.

Men walking in Mexico City
Mexico City is crowded and overwhelming. Most of the people are nice, like these two guys. But as in any other city, there are thieves looking to take advantage of wide-eyed tourists like me. 

I realized I would have to write about the camera theft, as losing my camera had a profound impact on the way I documented my time in Mexico City. My camera is like an extension of my arm. I had no idea how dependent I was on it — how integral a camera lens has become to the way I tell stories on my blog. Even though I’m an experienced iPhone photographer, I’ve gotten out of practice in recent years and shooting with my phone just wasn’t the same as shooting with my Canon.

The super-wide landscapes and interior shots that I normally take weren’t possible, so I focused on detail shots and candid street photography. It was hard, and I’m not totally happy with the results, but I suppose it was good exercise.

Fortunately I had just gotten a new iPhone and the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is fantastic. It was definitely the next-best thing to my lost DSLR. And fortunately Mexico City is one of the most beautiful, colorful, and delicious cities in the world. It’s hard to take bad pictures there, even with a phone.

Churros in Mexico City
I didn’t have a camera but at least I had churros. Thanks to my friend Michelle, both for taking this awesome photo and for moving to Mexico City and giving me a reason to visit.

The 8 Best Things About Mexico City

As I looked through my iPhone photos, I realized they divided themselves into several categories that represent all my favorite things about Mexico City. Here are those things, in no particular order.

1) Food

Mexico City has edged out both Istanbul and Paris as my favorite food city in the world. Pretty much every single thing that I put in my mouth was delicious. Michelle and I ate in food markets, fine-dining restaurants, cheap taco dives, and street-side stalls. Delicious. All of it. And usually cheap.

Mango in Mexico CityBest mango I’ve ever tasted.

HamburguesasMichelle’s neighborhood hamburguesa stand. We had burgers topped with cheese, jalapeños, and pineapple. Delicious and less than $1 a burger.

Mexican breakfastA Mexican breakfast: chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce, various accompaniments, and fresh-squeezed juice, eaten at a stall inside a food market.

I loved the food but it did have an effect on my stomach. Luckily Imodium is easy to find in Mexico City.

2) Street Art

Mexico City has tons of beautiful street art and graffiti. We found something new on every corner.

Street art in Mexico CityStreet art stride-by.

3) Architecture

Mexico City experienced a terrible earthquake in the 1980s and lots of old buildings were destroyed. Many lovely old houses and buildings survived through, and the mix of old and new is striking. I struggled to take good architecture photos with my phone but there are one or two that I’m happy with.

House in Mexico CityAn interesting old house with an interesting old car.

4) Markets

Mexico City has so many wonderful markets selling food, clothing, tacky souvenirs, and everything in between. The markets are like labyrinths and the deeper you go, the more great stuff you find.

Fabric in Mexico City marketBlankets for sale in the Plaza La Ciudadela market near Michelle’s apartment.

Chilles for saleChiles for sale. Can’t remember which market.

Angel salesman in Mercado MedellinAn angel salesman in the Mercado Medellin.

5) Statues

Mexico City is a public art mecca. I’ve never seen so many beautiful statues in a single city.

Angel of Independence in Mexico CityThe Angel of Independence, Mexico City’s most famous statue.

6) Museums

I could have spent the entire week in Mexico City visiting museums alone. We managed quite a few, including the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. We tried to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum but it is insanely popular and we couldn’t stomach the long line. Next time.

Fountain at Anthropology MuseumThe incredible fountain at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, which basically covers the entire history of humans in Mexico. Allow at least two or three hours (maybe more) to visit this museum.

Mural at Bellas ARtesMy favorite mural at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Unfortunately I can’t remember who painted it.

7) Jesus

Jesus is everywhere in Mexico City — big life-sized Jesuses, small hand-held Jesuses, and everything in between. I loved wandering through all of the beautiful churches and cathedrals. But most of all I loved the shop in Mexico’s historic center that sells thousands of Jesuses, as well as Virgin Marys and even Popes.

Jesus storeSo many Jesuses.

Jesus shopThe whole shop.

8) Shirts

Mexican shirts are the coolest shirts on the planet. And so affordable. I bought lots.

Heather in Mexican shirtShirts like this are for sale in every market and shop, and even right on the street. I bought three. (Photo: Michelle)

I can’t wait for my next trip to Mexico City. I’m going to keep a tight grip on my camera, eat a lot more food, and take ALL the pictures.

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