Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Weekend in Mexico City Part One

I've put this off long enough and it's time to write about the weekend in Mexico City. This was Thanksgiving weekend. Of course I worked that Thursday and Friday and then Friday night Lety and I met Tina and I stayed up far later than I like but I was having a great time.

Saturday morning dawned and I slept much later than I usually do but by 9:45 I was up and showered and about to go downstairs for coffee and breakfast when my room phone rang. It was Lety calling from the lobby. She wanted to get out and about and wanted me to join her and since my plans for the day included getting to the Mercado de la Ciudadela anyway I told her I would be right down. Of course my plans involved a taxi but Lety had a subway map and a street map. The station is only a couple of blocks from the hotel so we were off!

The subway here is very easy to navigate but the truly amazing thing is that no matter where or how far you are going the cost is 2 pesos. That is less than 20 cents US. I'm sorry but that is jaw-dropping to me. The ticket prices in Tokyo are based on how many stops you are going and to get from one side of the city to the other and back can easily cost $8 to $10.

So I wanted to go to the Mercado and Lety wanted to visit Zocolo (the Federal Square). Looking at the map it made much more sense to get off at Zoloco and explore that area and then go on to Mercado (who wants to be dragging shopping bags all over Mexico City?) so that's what we did. We walked in the direction of Zocolo and the streets were full of people and the sidewalks were lined with booths selling magazines and soft drinks. We walked down a side street that looked fairly safe and well populated. There was some kind of bazaar happening and two men on stilts were on the street shouting in Spanish to get shoppers down to the bazaar. When Lety and I walked down the street they immediately switched to English and started yelling "Hello! How are jew today?? You are so beautiful! Weel you be my geerlfriend?" It was obviously directed at Lety but was very funny and we had a good laugh.
Eventually we walked by The Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico (Museum of Mexico City). On a whim we decided to explore it. It's a very grand old restored building with an open courtyard and being inside it was easy to imagine Mexico City of the past. Admission was 25 pesos (less than $2.50 US). The first room was a display of about 14 Diego Rivera paintings, surprisingly all set on stands on a table. In the next couple of rooms were photographs of the artist Frida Kahlo. The route after that led into the open courtyard.
There were several rooms off the courtyard containing antique cars, busses and even a carriage. In another cubbyhole was a shrine in honor of the Day of the Dead which is a huge holiday in Mexican Culture.
Upstairs were a series of fascinating displays about the history of the City from the time of the Aztecs to the present day. Lety took the time to translate every bit of signage into English for me.

Of particular interest to me (as well as a huge gross out factor) was an explanation of the Mexico City water system. Am much as I was able to understand the reason why you don't want to be drinking the water is because the same pipes that carry waste away are used to carry "clean" water. This is probably not entirely correct but it's the gist of the situation. After reading that I kind of don't even want to shower.

When we walked back onto the street there was a parade going on. I have no idea what the parade was about but it was festive and colorful and I just love parades, especially non-American parades.
After the Museo it was on to Zocolo! Zocolo was a beehive of activity, with enormous Christmas decorations being erected on the old Federal and District government buildings. We went into a jewelry market where Lety looked for earrings for one of her daughters and then to another "mall" off the street where she found a beautiful nativity scene to take back to Santiago for her family.
You know? I've come to the end of my ability to continue for today and this is already a bit long so let me leave it in wonderful Zocolo and carry on tomorrow with the site of 3 cultures - ancient, antique and modern. It will blow your mind. And what I learned about the Aztec civilization in a mere few hours blew mine!

To Be Continued . . .

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