02/05/2013 01:15 am ET Updated Apr 06, 2013

How to Not Get Kidnapped in Mexico City

Proudly announce that you're going off the grid, but accept your father's offering of an emergency international cell phone plan anyway. Assure everyone you know that the two nice boys you're backpacking with will protect you, and that no, you won't get kidnapped, you promise. Remind them that cheerfully cautioning "Don't get kidnapped!' won't actually prevent you from getting kidnapped.

Arrive in the wrong terminal at Benito Juárez two hours late. Test out your Spanish, which has been rusting for nearly a decade, to locate an authorized taxi that will take you to your flat in La Condesa. Give up and let your travel buddy take care of it. Splash some [bottled] water on your face, change into a red dress and scribble down the address of a Mezcal speakeasy recommended by a friend's friend of a friend. Wander around in the dark for a while until you realize the speakeasy might actually just be someone's apartment.

Take a couple shots of consolation Mezcal at the bar next door and attempt some more rusty Spanish. Meet a young guy named Diego crossing Insurgentes who escorts you to the trendiest nightclub in town. Laugh nervously when the bouncer tells you the cover charge. Decide to order a torta from the stand across the street instead and blush when you realize you've asked for polla instead of pollo. Nobody wants to eat a penis sandwich.

Brunch outside at a scenic little restaurante orgánico. Try to ignore the old man warbling mariachi into his megaphone beside you. Get lost in the metro on the way to Leon Trotsky's house, telling your travel buddies that you're obviously a huge Leon Trotsky fan. Use your emergency international cell phone plan to google "Leon Trotsky." Peek into Leon Trotsky's past and learn that he was, in fact, the ultimate badass. So was his good friend Frida Kahlo, who lived only a few doors down.

Meander through the back roads of Coyoacán, determined to find Ciudad Universitaria. Stumble upon the main quad two hours and three street quesadillas later, but soon notice the entire campus has emptied for the holidays. Snap the best Instagram photo you've ever taken. Hop on a bus back to La Condesa and put on the same red dress.

Meet a flirty club owner who buys you three Mojitos on the fourth floor of his bar. Smile as your Spanish comes flooding back. Chat with a pair of sisters who invite you to their beach house in Cuernavaca for the weekend, and dance until you feel like you'll fall down. Leave one travel buddy with a punky costume designer and the other with a glamorous lawyer and grab the first taxi you can find on the street. Silently pray you aren't getting kidnapped when the driver gets lost on his way back to your flat.

Deadbolt your door and crash harder than a sack of potatoes. Wake up in an empty apartment. Panic.

Discover 17 missed calls, 11 unread emails and a handful of text messages informing you the keys to the flat don't open the deadbolt, and your travel buddies were forced to crash in two separate hostels. Wonder how the hell you didn't hear their incessant buzzing and knocking if it managed to wake up everyone else in the building and their dogs. Grovel with promises of back massages and fancy dinners when they return home, bleary-eyed, a few hours later.

Meet the punky costume designer and her sister at Metro Tasqueña and hop on a colectivo to Xochimilco. Ride a boat named La Carolina (your very own boat!) down the green-gray river, sipping pulque and micheladas and hopping onto a passing vessel to dance among a crowd of friendly locals. Pull up to a mossy bank, scattered with discarded doll parts, to feast on mole and esquite with extra limes. Bring the punky costume designer and her sister back to La Condesa for a few rounds of Mexican telephone pictionary.

Take a budget airline and an overpriced taxi to a bumpy hillside in Puerto Escondido. Meander down to the beach, where you do yoga at sunset with a Czech surfer and dine on camarones al diablo with your feet in the sand. When it's too dark to see your hand in front of your face, make the 40-minute journey over to Playa Zicatela.

Taste an array of Mezcals with a waiter who works 15-hour days and tells you nobody should ever hang out on the beach at night if they hope to make it out alive. Dance until sunrise with a gaggle of Australian surfers at the Cabo Blanco. Sneak up to the roof of your villa to stare at the sky, feeling like the world just got a whole lot bigger and a whole lot smaller.

Return to DF to collect your third travel buddy. Drink Mexican Malbec with a Mariachi band at the city's oldest restaurant. Order another bottle at the top of El Torre Latinoamericana and see the earth's third largest metropolis sparkle 80 stories below.

Wake up early to visit the pyramids but linger over your huevos rancheros for an extra couple of hours instead. Make it to Teotihuacan by late afternoon. Check your email at the top of the sun pyramid just because you can, gleefully watching your work inbox fill with messages you'll never return. Buy too many souvenir whistles.

Meet the punky costume designer and her brother for a late-night Lucha Libre show. "Do you like Mexican men?" he asks you as a beefy wrestler in an Axl Rose wig flies through the air. Meet a wayward British girl who doesn't speak a word of Spanish outside the theatre and impress her with your newfound fluency. Take three metros and two taxis to a discoteca, where you and the punky costume designer's brother dance onstage together.

Dress in all black and elbow through El Chopo goth market, wishing you had enough money left for that Ramones vinyl and spiked leather glove and steam punk bustier. Think about getting a tatuaje, but chicken out. Strike up a conversation with Manuel, an off-duty guide from the Museo Nacional de Antropología, and offer him 200 pesos for a private tour. Six-hundred years of Mexican history all packed into a delicious 20 minutes.

Amble down La Reforma and through Colonia Zona Rosa and into La Roma. Wind up outside the same Mezcal speakeasy as your first night, only this time the window is alive with revelers. Follow a group of hipsters through the front door and realize it's actually just a house party. Stay until four a.m. anyway.

Try to hail a taxi home but find yourself intercepted by a fellow partygoer, who tells you never, ever to enter a cab off the street. Listen, terrified, to the story of her classmate's girlfriend, who flagged down a taxi two years ago and was never seen or heard from again. Promise to call an authorized driver to take you to back to Benito Juárez tomorrow. Agree that you're one lucky gringa.