I was lucky to be in the centre of Mexico City on the weekend before Día de los Muertos. (Apologies for posting so many photos, but how could I not?)
First, the Frida Kahlo museum. I must read more about her and maybe watch the movie again.
Then the Museum of Anthropology, which gave me renewed insight into how Mexico and Central American histories have been so rich and the many cultures have survived and contributed to the modern societies.
On Saturday, I sat on a curb along the Paseo de la Reforma for hours, waiting along with over 100,000 other people for the parade to start. It seems this was the first-ever parade of this sort, although the elements of the celebration have been around forever.
In addition to the moving parade, a long section of the street was lined with exotic creatures on display.They were all named and numbered, so maybe they were part of an artistic event.
The next day, I walked to the Plaza de Independencia or Zócalo, which is HUGE, the biggest public square I have ever seen! There was a stage on the plaza with continuous entertainment including mariachi bands, classical and popular music. Nearby, all the museums were open and free, street performers performed, market stalls hustled, families with kids wandered in and out of the national historic buildings.
A few observations and thoughts from my very brief visit to Mexico City:
- I never felt unsafe in any way. I took the normal precautions for any city I don’t know (and some that I do know!) to avoid being pickpocketed, and I didn’t wander into unknown areas of the city, especially at night.
- The crowds were unfailingly orderly and respectful. I saw no public drinking or misbehaviour, and very little garbage.
- Moving 20 million people around everyday is not easy, and they seem to do it quite well. The traffic was awful, in terms of complexity, numbers and nonstop nature, but it moved steadily and public transport was extensive. Some wide avenues are closed to traffic on Sundays, and bicycles are available to the public.
- Street food was plentiful and looked delicious. Since I was only there for a few days, I never bothered to learn about how/where to buy it, since I didn’t want to risk problems when I was traveling within days!
- I wouldn’t call Mexico City a particularly beautiful city, and it might not be my destination of choice, but I was positively impressed.