The things I'll probably miss. Food vendors on the street: sopaipillas, empanadas de queso, eggrolls (but only near the bar scene at 2am)...all of it fried. Sugar roasted peanuts, hamburgers made with carne de soya, the little push carts near the metro station with confites, candy, gum, newspapers. The informal economy. The blankets spread out on the ground with earrings, scarves, handmade jewelry, snickers bars (two for 500 pesos). Spray paint artists making art rapid-fire.
There's this little toaster thing you put on top of the stove burner, made of porous metal. You put bread on it and it toasts. Or it starts smoking, depending on how long you forget about it. The satisfying 'whoosh' sound when the hot water heater turns on as you open the shower tap and turn it to hot. Yogurt mixed with raw instant oatmeal. It's a thing.
I will not miss the potholes. The drainage grates in the gutter that threaten to flip me and my bike if I'm not paying attention. Standing out. Stumbling through conversations as if Spanish were some tire agility course you're trying to complete while someone tries to knock you over the head with a 2x4. Cursing out the cat in English, because really it's more satisfying that way. And hopefully less offensive to your host mom.
Clean air. You get used to the smog, but once out of the city it's like 'oh wow so this is what breathing should feel like'. It's personally offensive when I'm in the bike lane and see the exhaust pouring out of a car with one occupant. And guys on motorcycles? What, your legs don't work so you have to burn fuel to do it for you? Go pop a tire. (Safely.)
And then there's the Metro. I haven't been on it in awhile thanks to my bike, but there's just something that's hard to explain about being physically very close to hundreds of strangers but not seeing any of them. We occupy the same space and don't engage. And yes there's plenty of people I probably wouldn't want to talk to. But that guy leaning against the wall with paint-splattered work boots and a black backpack at his feet. Who are you? Or the woman with her child zonked out in her arms still managing to breast feed. So many stories. And once the doors open they're gone, efervescent like the bubbles in 'agua con gas' that I've accidentally ordered several times.