Welcome to the Adventure

Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mexico City Pt. 1

Larry and I met up with our friends Karen and Ed in Mexico City last week. As anyone who has been listening to my slightly excessive rap .. well none of us had been to Mexico City for about 40 years (give and take). We fell in love with this city all over again. And one of the truisms in life, that I embrace these days, is that it is better to have a reasonable chunk of money to splurge, than staying in the local cheap-ass hotel at $1.25 a night located from my Frommer’s $5 a Day book 40+ years ago. But, oh, Mexico is so exciting, beautiful, crazy, richly historic, and just plain fun!

We stayed in a highly recommended neighborhood The Condesa, near the Zona Rosa, Roma, and Polanco Colonel districts. Where Polanco is the very high end neighborhood (sort of like Rodeo Drive in BH, or anywhere in Las Vegas), to the infamous Zona Rosa, where bohemia Mexico used to flock, each of these neighborhoods have a distinctive character. The devastating earthquake of 1985, sadly killing over 10,000 people, almost completely destroyed the city of Mexico. Many of the wonderful old colonial-era architecture is gone, and the late 19th/early 20th century Diaz-era architecture was almost severly damaged too. I cannot emphasis that from this devastation rose again, like the phoenix, an incomparable city.

The surviving buildings have been lovingly restored. The modern architecture that dots the skyline now is world-class in its originality and beauty. Mexico City has always been blessed with their gardens, and tree-lined streets, so most of the central part of the city is green and still has those colonial rock streets, that were there 40 years ago. We stayed at La Casona (highly recommended), a small hotel that bent over backwards to make sure we had a loving family-like experience. Karen wanted a mojito on our last night (it was a very small bar by the way), and our waiter said they had no mint. Next to our table were two men, and a lovely women (lovely), when the woman came to us and asked what it was we wanted again. Mojito. Turns out she was the hotel manager. She sent someone out for mint, and Karen had her mojito in about 5 minutes. So Mexican.

I can endlessly go on about the archeological museum (a 3-day journey to see everything), the Modern Art Museum with their Frieda's, Tamayo’s, O’Gorman’s, Orozco’s, etc, and the pyramids (Larry climbed the sun pyramid with Ed, Karen and I hung with the vendors that flock to the pyramids), but the true surprise was the National Palace (The White House of Mexico). We went to see the Diego Rivera murals depicting the history of “the struggle” here, and found an exhibition on the history of the revolutions of Mexico, and it’s war with the United States. Our one hour mural field trip turned into a four hour journey through the history of Mexico. The American War (as they refer to it) is a paragraph in our history books (and I know, because I taught history), but it was a revelation to see the photos, read the testaments of participants, and get the Mexican perspective on our role in Mexico. Clearly we were imperialist pigs in this involvement, and from this exhibit you can clearly understand the pride Mexico has for standing up to this invasion, and managing to drive the Americans out. It was pivotal in Mexican history. They had been invaded or taken over so many times, and yet pulled it together once again... Amazing.

But what was also clearly on show here in this exhibit, was how complicated the history of Mexico is. It is a country of revolutions, and most likely will continue to be, as indigenous/poor peoples will, we hope, become included in the conversation that moves this country towards a democracy. We also visited the Basilica de Virgin de Guadalupe, Mexico’s holiest site (think Lourdes, Fatima, etc). I know I am so sacreligious here, but I truly believe there is not a village in Oaxaca, that the Virgin hasn’t appeared, more on that later), but the vibes from this site, viewing the robe attributed to Juan Diego (the young Indian youth to whom the Virgin appeared), the new Basilica, and the old cathedral, well, you know you are in a very holy place. Very moving, the whole experience. We even got to check out the Pope mobile that is parked on the plaza next to the church.

to be continued...

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