Vice: Hey, you work for us. What was your first impression of New York?
Bernardo: The first time I came to New York, I came for just a weekend and there was a hurricane. Hurricane Floyd or something. The city was in a state of emergency. I thought, “I’m going to live here one day.”
In every single interview we’ve done with Mexicans living abroad, when we’ve asked them what they miss most about Mexico, they basically just say, “Tacos.”
Well, I don’t miss the food so much because you can find a lot of great Mexican food in New York and I suppose that’s not the case in Japan or Australia. I do miss Cerveza Indio and Mexican cantinas. There’s nothing wrong with dive bars here, but there’s just something amazing about cantinas in Mexico. The one I miss the most is in Querétaro. It’s called Chava Invita.
Is it even, like, a big deal being Mexican in New York? It doesn’t seem like it would be much of a culture shock.
Well, New York is a very inclusive city and I’ve been very lucky. But there’s a different kind of shock that happened to me. There’s a huge Mexican population in New York, but most Mexicans come here illegally from rural areas and they work in kitchens or bodegas. I moved here on scholarship for a master’s degree, I work legally as a film editor, and I speak fluent English, so it’s like, how do I say this... If you live in Mexico there’s all kinds of people doing all kinds of stuff, but when you move to New York, whatever class differences exist, they become more obvious. The middle ground, where I would say I come from in Mexico, doesn’t really exist here. It’s an extreme class divide.
Yeah, that makes sense. Was it hard getting a visa?
It’s just more of a hassle and it’s expensive even after you have a job offer and sponsor. It has cost over $5,000 plus the expenses of traveling there to renew it twice a year. Then you have to pay the embassy another $250 and you have to spend the whole day there. This is a funny story: I just went to renew it last week and the official I met with asked me, “Do you still work for Vice?” I wasn’t sure why he was grilling me, I was worried there was some problem, and he goes, “Man, where can I get a copy of Vice down here? I can never find it!” I never expected that from the council! So I told him that we were starting a Mexican edition and invited him to the launch party.
What’s the most awesome thing about living in Mexico City?
People always say that it’s so chaotic. “Oh, it’s a mess, it’s a disaster.” But in the end everybody loves it. I think it’s because that chaos creates opportunity. Kind of like what New York was like 30 years ago or Berlin 10 years ago. Mexico City feels like that. There’s a great art and music scene, and it’s starting to get recognized more, with people like Miguel Calderón and this music and art collective called Nuevos Ricos. There are some great new bands too, like Hong Kong Blood Opera. I also enjoy Mexico City’s recently enforced smoking ban.
A Mexican In... New York