I am awash in clichés.
What can be said about Mexico City that does not verge on doggerel? Bustling. Massive. Vibrant.
All true, but what do they convey that is unique from any other big city?
Carl Sandburg could wax poetic about Chicago by turning it into “hog butcher for the world” and “city of the big shoulders.” Gertrude Stein just gave up on Oakland by describing the “there” that wasn’t.
I have no such poetic allusions for Mexico City. But I do have some conclusions.
Mexico City will draw me back – if only to spend more time looking at its art and attending its museums. It offers enough culture to keep me interested for several more short trips.
And those trips will need to be short. Mexico City is so crowded you can almost feel the adrenalin streaming down your leg into the pavement.
I suspect one of those ancient Aztec gods is still being nourished with the life blood of tourists. Maybe that is where all that vibrancy comes from.
All of that access to culture comes at a cost. And I do not mean ticket prices. They are quite reasonable for a city this size. It is the expense of getting to and from the culture. And living in this city – even for visits.
A middle class existence does not come cheap in Mexico City. The general estimate is that it costs about 50% to 100% more to live there than in my little fishing village.
But Melaque certainly does not have what Mexico City has on offer.
In the five nights we were there we visited:
- the huge main plaza (the Zócalo) and the main buildings around it, including the cathedral
- the Templo Major, the core city’s main Aztec archaeological site and the associated museum
- a wonder of Art Deco architecture (the Bellas Artes) where we saw a performance of Mexican folk dances
- what was once the leafy village of Coyoacan, and is now part of greater Mexico City
- the Frida Kahlo Museum – with her highly-overrated art
- the canals of Xochimilco – not surprisingly on a boat
- the Chapultepec castle – home of Mexico’s chief executive from its first post-Independence emperor thorough a series of assassinated presidents to a second emperor and then more presidents until Revolutionary fervor resulted in a less regal home for the current freely-elected heads of state
- the world-renowned (and deservedly so) anthropological and archaeological museum
- the still-mysterious ruins of Teotihuacan, that baffled the Aztecs and still tickle the Disney fancy of busloads of tourists
So, hold on to your sombrero, we are about to paint the town red. Even if that is a bit redundant considering the politics of the city’s mayor.