Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mexico City, Part 1

We were in Mexico City from Monday to Thursday of this week. We stayed with Jose's great aunt on the outskirt of the city. It still has a lot of people and buildings, but it is calm and more comfortable than the busy parts of the actual city. Jose's aunt, Irene, lives with her husband, two daughters (both in their 20's), and their two big dogs. Her eldest daughter, Maribel, and her husband, Sergio, whose wedding we went to a few weeks ago, live next door and have their dentist office at her parent's house. They spend many hours each day at the house, and we are becoming good friends with them. We are extremely happy and comfortable at Irene's house. We will be staying with them again from Saturday, when we get back from Tecoman and La Manzanilla, until we leave on Tuesday. Its going to be hard to leave the family and not see them for a long time.

We arrived at the Mexico City bus station late in the afternoon on Monday. Irene and her husband picked us up and drove us to their house. We went on a walk around the neighborhood with Irene. It is known as a poor area, and it is pretty apparent. Most of the streets are dirt, there is garbage everywhere, and usually about six stray dogs per block. Now that I have a dog, it is much harder for me to see so many dogs without homes. Jose even walked by a dead dog. All the dogs we have seen are friendly and well behaved. I always thought of stay dogs as aggressive and mean, but these ones aren't. When we took Cholula out for a walk, they would all sniff her, but they were always gentle.

On Tuesday, we took a microbus, one of the small, rickety local buses to the subway station. We took the subway to Chapultepec, to visit the National Museum of Anthropology. It was very interesting to ride the subway, especially when it got really full, but everything went well and we got there and back safely. We even saw the one stranger we talked to at Maribel and Sergio's wedding. When we got off the subway, we had to take another microbus to the Chapultepec park. It was clean, quiet, and mostly all forest. We spent more than 6 hours in the museum. Our favorite part was the top floor, that has an exhibition for each of the major modern day indigenous groups. One was even Jose's group, the Purepecha. It said that the Tarascans, as the Purepecha were known before, were very warlike. Today, people from Michoacan, the Purepecha area, are known for being hotheaded, and it must be in part from the Tarascans. The downstairs was artifacts from the ancient civilizations. We saw some great things, but most of it was very similar to what we saw in each site's museum. It got a little repetitious. We were disappointed to find that many of the pieces didn't have any information. I had wanted to see the museum for the last 2 years, and it was definitely worth the wait.

On Wednesday, we went to the historic downtown and saw plaza called the Zocalo. There is a lot to do there, including about 5 museums that we hope to visit. There was an international bookfare happening in the Zocalo, which we were excited about, but we didn't find anything worth buying. Unfortunately, our day was cut short by a massive protest about electricity. The National Museum of Art, our first stop, is next door to the senate house. The senate recently laid off 40,000 workers that worked with the city's electricity, while raising prices for all residents, so there are very few happy people. The protesters filled the streets, and blocked off the museum. We made it into the museum only half and hour before the museum had to be closed for the day. We saw some amazing art at the museum. It was definitely worth the trip into the city. I even got to see some paintings by Dr. Atl, who may be my all-time favorite artist. When we left the museum, we had to leave by a back door, to avoid the protest. It had gotten pretty hectic outside, and there were police officers with shields and all kind of protection lining every street, so we decided to go home.

On Thursday, we again went to the Zocalo. But, again, we had problems that cut our day short. The microbus we took into the city refused to take us all the way to the subway station, because there was too much traffic and the driver just wanted to turn around. So we had to walk through congested intersections to find the subway, and then all through the station to get to the correct platform. We were in foul moods by the time we were at the ticket booth, but we had already spent almost 2 hours getting to the subway, so we decided we had to keep going. We finally got to the Zocalo, and visited the National Palace, the White House of Mexico. We saw beautiful Diego Rivera murals, some important room, a garden, and admired the building. Our moods still hadn't gotten much better, I think partly because we were dreading the bus ride coming up in the evening, so we got some food and went back to the house. It was nice to spend time with the family and Cholula before we had to leave, anyways.

On Saturday morning we will be back in Mexico City for 4 more days. We we see as many of the remaining places we want to visit as we can fit in, which will definitely include Teotihuacan for the pyramids.


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