Historical Center of Mexico City
Jeremy enjoying the clean metro of D.F.
Cruz Azul soccer game
Against all odds, we survived an entire week in Mexico City, D.F., and lived to tell all the details…
Over the last seven days, we explored the sights and culture that Mexico’s capital city has to offer. On the whole, we found Mexico D.F. to be a very clean, safe, and modern city with a multitude of plazas, churches, and historical sites. Despite news of riots over the elections in the southern city of Oaxaca, there is no evidence of violence here in the capital. In fact, we have found quite the opposite. Several years ago, the government implemented a plan to improve safety in the downtown areas, and this is quite evident given the impressive amount of policemen that are posted at every street corner. It is hard to not feel safe walking the streets around this part of town, even at night. In the surf town of La Ticla, we heard horror stories about the Mexico City police officers, but we have found them nothing but helpful.
We began locally by exploring the neighboring streets near our hotel, which are lined with street venders and tasty food stands. One thing that is interesting about the city layout is how many similar shops are located right next to each other. If there is one electronics shop, there will likely be at least several more right next door. For example, there is a street dedicated completely to music shops (all with just about the same equipment), and there is another dedicated entirely to used books. I guess in a metropolis of twenty million people it is a fair assumption that business will be steady, even with such stiff competition. The majority of the week was spent walking around the city in search of good museums. In our quest, we managed to see the museums of Anthropology, Frida Kahla, Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Fine Arts in addition to many lesser known exhibits. We also visited the famous Basilica de Guadalupe as well as several other historic churches with amazing architecture (although many of them bring to mind the leaning tower of Pisa due to a history of earthquakes). Mexico City actually stands on top of a gigantic underwater lake, and when earthquakes do occur, they tend to be quite catastrophic. Although all of the museums proved to be interesting, the Museum of Anthropology and the houses of Frida Kahla and Leon Trotsky certainly stood out in my head. At the Anthropology museum, if you are so inclined, it would be easy to spend at least three days exploring the past and present cultures of Mexico. Arriving in the neighborhood of the Frida Kahla museum, Nima continued to be surprised at how much the architecture and the city layout reminded him of Tehran, Iran. Interestingly enough, in the same small neighborhood lived Frida, Diego Rivera, and Leon Trotsky – all friends at the time. I also took the opportunity to head to the top of the Torre Latinoamericana, which is like a smaller version of the Empire State Building that gives an absolutely incredible view of the urban sprawl of Mexico City. Given the full panorama, a countless number of buildings, churches, houses, and shanties extend in all directions towards the volcanic mountains on the horizon. A more than subtle reminder of our growing population.
In traveling about, we became comfortable using the city’s modern and incredibly efficient subway system. For two pesos (20 cents), you can travel to anywhere in Mexico City as well as much of the urban sprawl that reaches far past the city center. The first time we descended into the metro network, we expected the worst, but only found an extremely clean and well-lit (and heavily trafficked) subway system. Running from 5:00 in the morning to 12:30 each night, it is certainly the easiest and safest was to traverse the city streets. That being said though, we did not at any point in our time here feel uncomfortable walking around. In addition to the transportation, we have also become torta and taquillo connoisseurs. Although the standard torta is basically just a sandwich of ham, cheese, and avocado on a roll, they are exceptionally tasty, and we have made a point of stopping at as many torta stands as possible. As for the taquillos, local street venders slice hot strips of pork onto a flour tortilla, layer the top with onions and cilantro, and practically give them away for 80 cents.
After seeing our Israeli friend Lior off to El Salvador, we spent a day reading and preparing for a much anticipated soccer game. After a week of waiting, we finally headed to the Estadio Azul to see Mexico City’s famous Cruz Azul soccer team face off against San Luis Potosi. Arriving at the stadium, we suited up with some Cruz Azul shirts and headed in. On the outside, swarms of riot police awaited any violent soccer fanatics. Unfortunately, as soon as the whistle blew, an incredible downpour began, and lasted through the majority of the game. It was absolutely freezing, and there was a very poor turnout. In the end, San Luis took the victory over Cruz Azul by a score of 1 to 0. Soaking wet and cold, we found our way back to the hotel and prepared to head off for a new adventure.
Today we meet up with our long lost friends Tony and Danielle who are backpacking through Mexico and Central America over the next two months. Together, we will head south for Guatemala, where we expect to make our next journal entry…
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