|Flying into Mexico City.|
|The Zocalo, with Parliament on top and|
Catedral Metropolitana, oldest church
in Latin America.
We jumped into the taxi, and I ignored vigorously all those things people had said before we left: "Mexico is SO dangerous right now. Why are you going there?" And suddenly the taxi driver is holding his horn down and driving in the middle of two lanes on a bustling highway, and I'm reaching for the seatbelt to contain my insides and calm my nerves, but there isn't one. But it doesn't matter. The point of travel is to immerse oneself into another, foreign culture. If this culture meant no seat belts, then so be it.
|Art and the Aztec Calendar in the Museum|
of Anthropology, Mexico City.
Mexico City's official city proper population is around 9 million people. But the surrounding metropolis area contains more than 21 million people. The city has an incredible history: many years before its existence the Aztecs (Mexican people) were migrating through the region in search of a place to settle. Led by a god, Huitzilopochtli, they were told that when they saw an eagle atop a cactus, holding a snake in its beak, they were to settle in that particular area. The Aztecs, after years of travelling, saw a serpent in the mouth of an eagle at the current site of Mexico City, then called Tenochtitlan, and began to build the city on an island, surrounded by Lake Texcoco.
|Mexican soldiers taking down the Mexican flag in the Zocalo, Mexico City.|
|Chrissy, Renee and I in Coyoacan, and in the|
Zocalo, in front of the cathedral.
One night while we sat in the zocalo, as I watched while hundreds of people marched around the square, protesting the
firing of more than 40,000 electrical workers (the president is working on privatizing electricity in Mexico - another disconcerting issue) a friend told me about the Tlatelolco massacre. Ten days before the summer Olympics in 1968 were held in Mexico City, a group of 10,000 university and high school students gathered to peacefully protest the Olympic Games, demanding a fairer government and looking to that government to provide basic necessities for its people. Instead, snipers stationed throughout this particular square opened fire on the students, killing between 200 and 300, and injuring hundreds more. The electrical protesters continued on through the square, many shouting "Viva Mexico!" as I listened.
|El Angel, commemorating Mexico's independence,|
and a view of the city centre from atop the Latin
American tower, downtown Mexico City.
So what did we do in Mexico City? Everything we could fit into nine days. We visited the monument El Angel, the Angel of Independence that towers above the city, constructed in 1902. We spent a day at the Six Flags Mexico City theme park - for an unauthentic experience. We walked the streets of La Condesa, where my friend Renee lived. We ate frozen ice cream from a plastic tube and walked through Coyoacan, a former village of the city, and I watched in amazement at the indigenous dancers bearing rainbow colors of feathers on their headdresses, with nuts tied around their ankles and dancing in unison to the giant beat of the drums. We scrambled through crowded markets with candles and incense burning my nose.
|Indigenous dancers in Coyoacan: the woman on the right is providing a|
traditional blessing for people in the audience.
Photo credit: Ben Ross and Jessica Bell