Migratory patterns of the Umlikes
A new mammal makes CDMX its temporary home.
The shriek of the camotes cart; the whistle of the street vendor; the rhythmic yells of the quesadillas lady; the bell of the trash truck; the whistles of the vieneviene; the clinging triangle of the dude who sharpens knives, the honk of the man that sells pan dulce and the particular cadence of Chilango Spanish…
Mix it all up with the honks of millions of cars, and what do you get?
The Mexico City symphony!
This rowdy ecosystem has recently become a destination for new species: thousands flock from the south searching for food, shelter, and security; others, from the north, seeking warmer climates and cheap-ass rents.
Dozens of peer-reviewed papers have reported the emergence of a new sound in lush habitats like the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods (and Juarez, Cuauhtémoc, Narvarte, and Nápoles). I’m speaking of um, like, you know, the constant repetition of, well, those words precisely, which have so impregnated daily life that even natives now use them to communicate with each other. They belong to a new type of exogenous creature from the digital nomad category, the Umlikes.
Decades ago, the perception of a city overrun by crime, pollution, and violence dissuaded even the most intrepid travelers from visiting, let alone moving to, Mexico City. But now, thanks to a successful branding campaign and the deployment of hundreds of those mesmerizing lightbulbs in coffee shops throughout these neighborhoods, these moths have descended on the city and turned it into one of the hottest in the world.
Is Mexico City —like the Mexican chronicler Carlos Monsivais wrote in the nineties—still a post-apocalyptic city? Who cares! Visitors swear that it is safe and livable, notwithstanding the constant water and air pollution crises, the disastrous earthquakes, and the daily and horrifying acts of violence, especially against women and children.
Unlike, say, the monarch butterflies or humpback whales, which pass geographical knowledge of their destinations through generations, these new visitors lack the long-term memory of their predecessors. They are often unaware of their surroundings, to the extent that they’re often seen biking around happy-go-lucky on days when the air is most toxic. And regarding the cheap ass rents? Here’s a fun fact: despite being so compared with other northern global cities, Mexico City is one of the most expensive in Latin America; its poor and wealthy classes live in what Oxfam calls “parallel worlds.”
Perhaps this feeling of poverty and violence just around the corner constitutes the city's “edgy” aura— a trait that Umlikes find extremely attractive. That’s until the next disaster hits, of course, and the current wave leaves, shocked to realize that the city is still violent, polluted, and unsafe after all.
But fear not, my friends! A new wave of even savvier digital nomads arrives soon after, following their predecessors' footsteps! When speaking to locals about the situation, these newcomers swear time and time that they don’t know what they’re talking about; they haven’t seen any shootings, muggings, or rapes.
That might be the case, but that doesn’t mean crime networks are not entangled with the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods! A portion of the price of that café late bought in your favorite cafe will probably end up, sooner or later, in some friendly cartel’s hands!
Further discussion on the matter is pointless; according to sound ecologists, the Umlike likes having the last word when dealing with the gods of Edginess and Authenticity. We might as well get used to the stubbornness of this funny and naive creature, for most of the specialists coincide: the Umlike is here to stay.
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