Overwhelming Mexico City

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 007The 2015 population of Mexico City was 21.2 million people. To give a comparison, this one city has more than twice the population of the entire country of Hungary as one example. Just as the population is extensive, getting around the city is just as problematic. Museums and other cultural venues extend over a tremendous amount of territory. You can imagine the traffic conditions.

Using Uber is convenient for getting downtown, but with traffic, it can take upwards of 40 minutes to reach our destination that is only miles away. I do not realize how few miles we have actually had to go until I get the Uber receipt.

On the drive here, we did see Christmas tree lots preparing to open. Along one main road that Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 009divided by a center tree and garden lined walkway, there were dozens of workers planting poinsettia plants along with some green plant, creating colorful triangle patterns.

In the main square, the Plaza de la Constitución, they were busy putting up Christmas decorations. We were completely overwhelmed with where to go first and what to do, but the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, officially named, Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos was the main focal point. This was our kick-off point. This happens to be the largest cathedral in the Americas and the main diocese for all of Mexico’s Catholics. Sacred Aztec land sits under the construction of the cathedral with the Aztec Templo Major on the Plaza de la Constitución to the backside of the church.Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 014

To the side of the church are three incredible, but humongous statues. They are as gorgeous as they are huge. Beyond them is the Aztec Temple.

From the plaza, it is possible to see parts of what remains of the Aztec Temple, but after paying a minimal admission fee, it is possible to walk the grounds and visit a small museum. We decided to hold off on this for another day; the overcast day dissuaded us for visiting, so we opted to wait for a sunny time.

Around the corner, we happened upon a gallery. Entry is free. We later learned the name of the Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 026building hosting the exhibit is Palacio de Iturbide. The exhibit contains about 90 pieces, mostly in clay. Though some of the pieces seem to be incomplete when examined, this is because they are. The show demonstrates his process as an artist showing work through various stages of completion. This is his first show in Mexico; this is surprising since he has been creating since 1986.

We spotted Ted, but Mark Wahlberg was nowhere in sight. Ted tempted Ron to join him by holding his bottle of beer in the air, but once Ron did seat aside him, Ted was reluctant to share.

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 032Trying to find out what cultural events we can avail ourselves of, we went to The Palacio de Bellas Artes. Outside of the building are tremendously large statues as well, but very different in design as those by the cathedral. These are mostly contemporary. Unfortunately, we missed the box office opening hours, but we did get a brochure. Located right next to the Palacio is the Alameda Central Park, so we walked through it before returning home. Created in 1592, the park was once an Aztec marketplace.  We realized as we walked that the statue in front of the Palacio was not the sole work by that artist on display. Lining the sidewalk along the park, another half dozen or more of his pieces graced the scenery.

We are discovering the city is rich in public art covering all media. Montreal claims 1,000 pieces Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 043of public art, but Mexico City, though larger, can certainly compete.We were not prepared for how beautiful this city is. The last time we were here, it was only for an airport transfer and we had an hour between flights. We walked out of the airport and the smog was so overwhelming, we debated whether we would ever return. Lucky for us, we changed our minds.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.