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Friday, 30 July 2010

Mexico City

Mexico City is a difficult place to sum up. A place of such great size, diversity and complexity requires a great deal of detail to explain and also a great deal of time adequately explore it. In all we were there for 6 days which was enough time to see a great deal but not enough time to scratch the surface of what the city had to offer.

It 1st thing that struck me about Mexico City was its size, and I had just come from LA. The airport terminal was ginormous, and that was the small one Lau told me. The highways that connect the various corners of the city have a second tire of road network which stand 25 meters above those on ground level. These look like something out of a science fiction novel but it is an example of contrast rather than of similarity. The majority of the roads are like capillaries with all kinds of small streets branching in all directions. It is a complicated inner city to navigate, and thats for the Taxi drivers, most of whom had to ask for directions for where they were going. At night they are empty but during the day, above all when the rain floods in, the roads are themselves are flooded by a sea of Taxis, SUV's 4bye4s, VW beetles which are very popular, and all kinds of automobiles. Along the roads you see high rising skyscrapers standing next to small ramshackle huts where the street venders sell their wares for the kind of money that in England you would think twice about picking it up off the floor if you dropped it. Contrast, contrast contrast, but it is this that makes Mexico City interesting.

We started my going to the Mexico City Museum of fine arts which, thanks to Priscilla's curse of scaffolding, has it beautiful exterior obstructed by the iron construction. Mexican art very often takes the form of large murals which tell romantic stories or Mexican revolutionary history. There were half a dozen of such murals which had the ability to compel you to stair at them for hours. Mexican artists love to tell stories of their history through these murals and, moving from left to right, a 100 year story can be dramatically demonstrated in a 10 by 5 meter space. We had a lot of things to see and much less that a 100 years to see them so swiftly we moved onto our next port of call The Excavaciones Del templo Mayor. This was a detailed account of the establishment of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan home to the Aztecs until the arrival of the Conquistadores and Hernán Cortés in 1518. On the 18th of July 1325, probably a Tuesday, Wondering Aztecs ordered by the Gods to search for their kingdom which would be marked by an Eagle on a Cactus eating a snake happened a pone and Eagle on a cactus with a snake in its mouth. Before you think the Aztecs were a lucky bunch to find the exact obscurity they were looking for the cactus was on an Island in the middle of a lake.

193 years later Cortés raised the city to the ground but must of liked the location as he built the new city of Mexico on top of the old one on top of the lake. When Jesus preached the Parable of building the house on the rock he probably felt that man didn't need to be told that building the house on water was a bit of a no no. It does seem self evident, lucid that water is, that city construction on top of a lake is a recipe for disaster but I think this a reflection on the ambitious nature of the Aztecs and then of the Spanish rather than on their respective stupidity. Nevertheless we were told one day the water will rise up from the ground and the city will be engulfed and there is nothing that can be done about it, maybe this was what the Mayas were on about?

With an overwhelming sense of foreboding as water gushed around us (it was raining but I couldn't help but wonder) we went for lunch. There we were serenaded by the Mexican version of a weeding singer who crooned and swooned his way through an hour and a half of material, while we ate and tried desperately not to catch his eye.

The evening had a personal ambition in store for us. But it is so important that is deserves its own post.

More to follow.

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