Be Original Apply

At the local gas station this afternoon a Mexican with a bucket and wiper approaches me at the pump about my car windows. Thought of his brothers in DF-like 80’s NYC-Broadway and Houston jumping on your windows at the red lights.

A lot of different things happen at red lights and big intersections in Mexico City. The two mujeras  here stand on the sidewalk with their wirey employer – like the one approaching us in Plaza Garibaldi (“You want something freaky?” after saying something about “Polanco” which is the Beverly Hills equivalent in DF)-waiting for  each red light when the.  girls parade in front of backed up traffic-their man with the point and shoot documenting his project on the street.

In Coyocan, former home of Cortez, Frida and Deigo, Leon Trotsky and John Houston the precious but  energetic traditional area of the old puebla is only a short distance from a busy, commercial road that features a mime-faced juggler who gets up on a 6 foot ladder in front of a three lane blvd to entertain just long enough to hustle back to his center island perch and try and grab some coin as the cars begin gunning themselves through the intersection.

Surreal acqui like Breton says. Some threads: circus, 1980’s NYC downtown, and popular conceptions of Mexico-a source of original chaos.

Popo and Aztec Dancers

There are thousands with Nuatl names in Mexico City. The grand Catedral sitting on the Zolaco is of course built over the temple- no doubt with materials from it- belonging to the former occupier of the lot- the Aztecs. Every night Aztec dancers celebrate the still-beating heart of the Nuatl. It’s a melange of people gathering in the darker recesses of their Zolaco host.

Aztec lovers  dancing, chanting, cleansing with fire, smoke and sounds, quarters are celebrated, radiations from nearby temple fragments are consumed, dancing always dancing. Mexico City-a free form place for generation of spirits. With volcanoes and tectonic plates in movement DF is always churning.

Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Moon in a Science Fiction City.

The symbolic mother magic mountain. One hour from Mexico City about 3 1/2 from Dallas, TX. Chaco Canyon, Mississippi Valley cultures (with similar shaped pyramids) to the West Coast…all intertwined …. The scale of the complex is something you try to imagine filled with people and what living between the two giant pyramids (the other dedicated to the Sun) was like.
Hire a driver from DF through your hotel. Jorge Mendoza is one man’s name that came up in some people’s experiences. You can do a day in about 5 hours if you leave DF, go to Teotihuacan -stay 2 1/2 hours-back to DF. Or you can take advantage of adding other visits to the day’s events. Pulque-making, silver craftsman and probably others you could ask about. We heard it won’t be long before authorities forbid walking up and down the Pyramids.

DF Heading Towards Tepito

Looking up anything having to do with travel in Mexico and of course the danger issue comes up right away. Drugs, beheadings, kidnappings, rape, robbery-the whole catalog of contemporary terror is thrown in your face along with the laundry list of do’s and don’t’s to protect your person.

Having gone through this literature before my recent trip to DF or Mexico City it was hard to keep my mind off what I was reading- making sure I took the right precautions to insure I wouldn’t fall victim to Mexican crime. I even when out and got one of those envelope type things for money, passport etc.  that you can hang around your neck under your shirt.

As soon as we arrived in the DF airport. I took it off feeling stupid and disgusted with myself for falling for the fear-based programming. And while there’s certainly violent crime in Mexico-most of it is concentrated along our border and in cities throughout Mexico with links to that activity.

But as far as DF goes, any half-way experienced traveler from around the globe is going to be able to navigate this city  well without any undue fear. Yes it’s a city of 25 million people so of course there are less than desirable areas-especially at certain times and for certain people. But the fact is the murder rate here for instance is much lower than any number of cities in the US llike Miami and Detroit.

We found the the people of DF incredibly welcoming, gracious, and open-more so than many European and certainly cities north of the border. You can get all kinds of tips about how you should dress, look and so on but my basic recommendation would be don’t go to DF looking like you’re there to mow their lawns and don’t be a showoff. It’s  a global city so a muted, wardrobe tending towards darker colors works fine-maybe forget the white trainers.

We wandered all over the city. Staying in the Centro Historical area we were only a few blocks from the heart of Mexico City the gigantic Zocalo plaza-which has something going on every day and night it seems-as well as being the focal point for large political gatherings and music venues for the public.

At night, as everywhere, a different feeling comes over a city. One night after observing various groups of Aztec dancers (subject of a future post)  we began walking into the surrounding areas. Within a few blocks the streets got quiet and darker. Another world. There was some music blasting from some little hole in the wall place that sold something we couldn’t make out. A few people and a much grittier look-the kind of area I like walking through.

We did for a while until we got that sixth sense feeling that we should head back. Someone began following us it seems but we turned around and stared at him for a moment and he disappeared. In another couple of minutes we were among the people  hanging out in the Zocalo.

Only later did we see learn from our map that we were heading towards the infamous Tepito area-known for it’s hard ways and not recommended for foreign tourists or even most residents of DF who tend to avoid it as well though its always had a certain appeal because of it’s history of smuggling goods into the country and as source of professional boxers.