Amy’s T1D Adventure: Mexico City La Vida (Part 1)

t1d diabetes travel

[Here’s a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 27-year-old ex-advertising executive who recently swapped her NYC apartment for an oversized backpack to explore the streets of Latin America for six months. Amy has lived with type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 15 years and tries her best to balance blood glucose levels, marathon training and a high-carb raw-vegan diet. Now she has thrown in travel to the mix. EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy is a performance athlete and consumes a high carb diet. At One Drop, we believe that a low carb approach to food reduces the risk of hypo and hyper glycemic incidents and can effectively reduce blood sugars. However, we want to share a variety of personal experiences so we can all learn how other people live their lives with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before making changes to a prescribed regimen.]

And finally I make it! I’m here in Mexico City! After lots of beach, sunshine, and swimming, I have to admit I’m glad to be back in a city – shops, cafes, yoga studios and no sand! I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to experience both sceneries. Always good to have a change though, so lots of excitement running through my veins.

Smoggy Days

I wake up early on day 1, in my beautiful Airbnb apartment for the next few days to fit in a run: I find a path to Bosque De Chapultepec, a park the same size as Central Park in NYC! The weather is cool and the sky looks overcast. I later learn that the “clouds” are pollution, which explains why I have a little trouble breathing on my run.

Amy McK T1D diabetes. Smoggy days, traveling in Mexico City.

BGL 300 – A T1D “Mamey Moment”

I search out a vegan place for breakfast at Mora Mora. It’s an hour walk, and a good way to keep my BGLs in range while the adrenaline running through my body is raising them! Breakfast was a delicious, totally overpriced Acai bowl with fresh fruit. Before I hit the museums, I mistakenly stopped at a street fruit stand and bought a big Mamey (tropical fruit) and didn’t bolus… blood glucose above 300! So annoyed at myself, here comes more insulin.Amy McK T1D diabetes travels. Visits museums in Mexico City.

First museum was Museo De Nacional de Antropologia. An incredible museum walking through an array of Mexican culture, geography and history taking me back to the times and traditions of the Mayans, the temples and pyramids to the different foods and traditions throughout different areas of the country! I learnt so much about the history of Mexico City! It was so fascinating and reminded me why I fell in love with Latin America, so rich in life.

Second stop on the museum tour was Museo de Arte Moderno. The museum has a very interesting exhibition by the photographer Lee Miller (NY), a photographer for Vogue and other high fashion magazines during the Second World War. She despised the socialite life and ended up doing photojournalism during the war with some very traumatic photos of soldiers in the Nazi concentration camps.

Frida and Low Blood Sugar

After that insightful, yet heavy exhibition, my blood glucose levels are back in range (thank goodness!), now it’s time for lunch and a decent size bolus to cover. I managed to gobble down a quick bite before I jumped in a taxi to the most famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo’s house.

Wow – what an incredible place! I walk in the door and test my glucose levels before I start the tour of the house – BGL 71 with a few units of insulin on board – hello T1D! Damn, I think I over-bolused for lunch. Luckily I always carry glucose tablets on me so I throw a few in my mouth and start wandering through the art filled, blue house. Again, the history and story of Frida Kahlo blew me away, I didn’t know much about her or even her works, her story, just as famous husband Diego Riviera, or her life long struggle with a chronic illness. But everything in the house told a beautiful story of her talent, pain and emotions, if only I could have captured it better.

Upon leaving the magical blue house, I had to get a photo! And I was even matching! Azul on azul! All museumed out, I contact my friend from college who lives in Mexico City and who I’ll be staying with for a week during my stay here. We meet up for a quick veggie bite before his soccer match – a kale and tempeh salad! Muy delicioso!

Amy McK T1D diabetes travels. Visits Frida Kahlo's in Mexico City.

 7 Miles and High Carbs

Amy McK T1D diabetes travels. One Drop screen.Day 2, I start my morning my favorite way, another 7 mile run, accidentally making my way to a big marble statue at the beginning of Bosque De Chapultepec. I always like finding surprises as I run in strange cities.

My friend recommended a place for breakfast in a very hip neighborhood called Condesa, so that’s my next destination! And wow – their Acai bowls are incredible! The best I’ve ever tasted! Famished after my run I get a double-fruit salad. Maybe a few too many carbs as an hour later my blood glucose levels are back on the higher side. So frustrating!

I give a little extra insulin and walk to my next destination which is a good distance away – Castillo De Chapultepec. The biggest castle I have ever seen in my life! Kept in the same condition as it would have been during the time when Spanish royalty occupied its grounds. I was amazed by the stained glass windows and the interior architecture. And the view of the city from the Castle gave me a peek into how big this city actually is – if only there wasn’t so much smog!

Low at the Zocalo

Decided to keep with the walking, I headed in the direction of the Zocalo – one of the biggest plazas in Latin America – it even features in the beginning of the latest James Bond film!

Amy McK T1D diabetes travels. Visits Zocalo in Mexico City.And, it lived up to its expectation! The Zocalo is surrounded by the Cathedral and National Palace! Both breathtaking displays of architecture (Mexico city is filled with amazing buildings!). Before I could venture inside either buildings I had to fix another blood sugar crash – maybe too much walking! A banana and apple got me up and I ventured into the Cathedral!

A fun fact about Mexico City. Everywhere you see a cathedral or church above ground, there is a temple beneath it underground. When the Spanish invaded, they built churches over all of the native temples to express their authority and introduction of Christianity to Mexico. Exhausted from all the walking, decided to have a quiet night in and grabbed oatmeal and some raisins from a local health food store for dinner.

Tough Place for Vegans

Day 3 was a rest day, so I headed back to Condesa for another Acai bowl breakfast. Another tip from my friend is to head to the traditional mercado/market called San Juan. It’s filled with fruit and veggies, unrefrigerated chickens (that is how they roll here, even on the streets), and local foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a tough place for a vegan – locals love their cheese and meat! Around the corner from the market is Museo de Arte Popular. I walked out the front and knew I would be in love with the art! Huge, larger than life sculptures of strange creatures painted with bright colors.

The museum had an interesting exhibition on the traditions and culture that emerged post-Spanish invasion. A unique mix of Catholicism and Mexican culture of spirits, gods and worship.

Looking for a place to eat on the vegan iPhone application Happy Cow, I find a traditional family owned restaurant a few blocks away that is fully vegetarian. Win! The family living room was transformed into the restaurant seating quarters, so cute and quaint. Being served by the grandmother gave an authentic touch to the place and put a big smile on my face as I gobbled up he delicious traditional Mexican meal,

Now it was time to move my backpack to my friends house in a neighborhood called Colonia Escandon – a great location. Veggie tacos for dinner before I cheered on my friend at his soccer match. He scored the winning goal! Boom!

Ready for some weekend adventures with a local tour guide.

Check out my next blog post to see what I got up to! And don’t miss out on my previous T1D adventures: Into Tulum and Isla Holbox, Destination Dos!

Amy McK T1D diabetes travels. Finds vegetarian food in Mexico City.









Amy McKinnon
Amy McKinnon

Amy McKinnon is a One Drop user, marathoner, ex-advertising executive, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Amy is currently exploring the streets of Latin America for six months.