Forget all the
negative you hear and read about Mexico City, if you like a city that
lives 24 hours a day ,where you can choose whether you will see a
soccer game, go to the theater, hear a music concert, see an art
exhibition, go to a fair or a circus, every day of the year, it's
Mexico City or DF as
we call it, is a charming blend of all opposites imaginable, one sees
Spanish 1600 century palaces beside modern glass hotels, luxury
villas next to the cardboard houses, in front of a 1.class
restaurant, from a street vendor, you can buy Gordos, tamales,
tortillas and tacos. Next
to the large discotheque, a small cantina with mariachis.
Everywhere on the
major streets and Avenidas there are lots of people and the noise is
unbounded, but around the corner over in the next street, we find a
small park with peace and quiet, green trees and birdsong.
In the traffic, we see
lots of green Volkswagen’s and half-sized buses, green Volkswagen’s
are taxis and buses are called "micros".
drivers do not know the city and drive like they own it, Microbus
drivers are all Kamikaze pilots, but try a micro bus trip it saves
you a trip to the amusement park.
and Micro bus drivers are doing their best to break all the rules
that exist, existed and should exist about traffic.
motorists drive more carefully, not because of respect for the law,
but more because of fear of dents.
are performed approx. 29
million one-way trips per day in Mexico city: 8 million with the
subway (El Metro), 5 million, with micro buses, buses and taxis, the
rest in private cars. There
are approx. 30,000
micro buses, ca. 110,000
taxis and about 4 million private cars.
city's history and tourist attractions can be read on the internet or
in other media, I'll show you the city as I love it.
the excellent metro, we go into the Plaza de la Constitucion (Metro
Zocalo), in the southwest corner of the plaza is the Grand Hotel, the
entrance is in the side street, we enjoy our breakfast on the roof
terrace with good views to the Cathedral, Government Palace, and life
on the plaza.
is usually a buffet with many different dishes, both Mexican
and international dishes, but be careful with the chili, it burns
first on the tongue then in the throat and after a few hours
somewhere else. If
you eat too much chili, eat a piece of bread with a little salt and
drink a little cold water, it helps.
leave the hotel and goes into the small streets around the plaza, we
find here a structure in the trade that I have not seen in other
every street has a specialty, like Calle Donceles, 3rd
street north of the
plaza, books, Republica El Salvador, 3rd street
south of the plaza, electrical items, Calle Victoria, 2nd
street south, tools.
here we see the contradictions that are typical for Mexico, next to a
nice big computer store, there is a store that's sells old junk, the
computer shop is new and orderly, the junk shop looks like they
haven’t cleaned since inauguration in 1910, and in between all this
mess I find parts for my 30 year old jukebox, after a long talk with
the seller, I get the price haggled down to half of the demanded, my Mexican wife is better at it, she usually gets them down to ¼.
the time that I haggled with the seller, he handles 3-4 other
customers, while he keeps an eye on all those who rummage around in
his "inventory". Out
on the street in the crowd I hold on tight to the purchase and keep
checking my pockets.
shops in these streets opens usually between 9 and 11 in the morning
and closes in the evening between 21 and 23, all week, Shops closing
your time and breathe in the noise, turmoil and aroma, take a break
in one of the small cantinaes or cafes, you find everywhere.
jump into the subway again and go to Plaza Garibaldi.
Garibaldi is filled with music, the Mariachis wanders around and form
groups, play a few tunes in a group and moves on to another
the area there are restaurants and cantinaes where there are played
music derived from Guadalajara, and was, from there, then propagated
to the entire Mexico. The word Mariachi is an abbreviation of the French word Mariage (Wedding), so the Mariachis started out as wedding musicians, their uniform is NOT a Mariachi suit, but a Mexican Charro (Cowboy) suit.
the cantinaes it is common for musicians to come to your table and
invite you to book "your" song, for approx.
30 pesos per
song, you can hear
all the ones you want.
a little careful on Plaza Garibaldi after dark, do not go there
can also be hired for private parties, very common is it that instead
of a gift, to rent a group and let them play an hour or two as a
several large restaurants around town, there are excellent shows with
Mariachis and other folklore shows.
are changing almost daily, so you should inquire as to where and
going to football match at Estadio Azteca. With
the metro line 2, we take for Tasqueña where we change train to El
Ligero (the light train) and runs south along Tlalpan to the stadium.
If it is a popular match and we do not have tickets, we must obtain
them from the sharks outside the stadium, there are Always tickets its
only a matter of price.
Mexico wins an international match, we goes into Monumento de la
Independencia, El Angel on Reforma, and join the wild party, of
course we have the phone with us and call later that night after our
close to Estadio Azteca is Ciudad Universitaria (University City) and
the Estadio Olympico.
the university town, there are lovely green spaces and many roads and
trails without traffic, and here are we going to teach our children
how to ride a bike or when they have aged to teach them to drive a
Venice called Xochimilco, it's a green area with lots of channels
located in the southern part of town.
is a popular excursion. We
agree with the family, friends and acquaintances, meeting place and
time, packs the picnic basket , and fill the cooler with beer,
tequila and ice, and after having been assembling troops (the Mexican
is always late), we find a suitable Embarcadero.
los Embarcaderos it is possible to buy all the things we forgot and
for tourists to buy the typical souvenirs, obviously at high prices.
After fierce debate
about the price, we rent a flat bottomed barge, equipped with tables
and chairs, with room for 15 to 20 persons.
barge is driven by a Captain (in the Mexico, there are no sailors,
all are Captains) and a ca. 6
Meter long wood pole.
the hard process, we are finally out on the channels, here we
encounter a maze of barges, which offers everything you need for a
successful outing, tacos, Gordo, tamales, roasted corn with chile,
beer and soft drinks, flowers, souvenirs and last but not least,
Mariachi barges, or barges with giant wood xylophones, with music on
demand, pay and sing along.
are plenty of barges on which are celebrated a birthday, an
anniversary, Mother's Day, a wedding or like us a family outing, when
we get close to another barge we toast them, and we sing together the
familiar melodies, Paloma Blanca, Guadalajara, Mariachi loco etc. At
both ends of the barge, there is a small space suited for a dance, in
short, a folk festival. The
main channels are filled with celebration, but in the side channels,
you can find quiet places where Xochimilcos nature, with flowers
growing wild, high shade giving trees and picturesque houses that can
be enjoyed. Here
again an example of the many contradictions in Mexico.
of Mexico is a huge family unity, a trip like this takes the whole
family, from mother in law at 88 to newborn Pedro, the young people
show great respect for the elderly, and it is normal to see the
grandchild help grandmother or great-grandmother on board a barge.
Unity also manifests itself in daily life, it is common to several
generations live together, depending on income, in an apartment or
house. Grandmother take care of the kids and cooks for all, father
and mother works, and grandfather is sitting in the cantina.
assistance, social workers and other public assistance is only
available in very modest form, but we are doing without, with a
healthy common sense, good advice from mother in law and help from
the whole family.
in Mexico city is very low, there are stolen around 200 cars a day,
committed 13 murders and numerous armed robberies, but we live with
it and take our precautions.
you only think about retirement, the daily newspaper and TV, Mexico
is not the place you should live, here the daily life is exciting and
full of surprises and wonderful experiences, and personal freedom nearly
(Mexicans from Mexico city) are warm , very guest friendly, sentimental, superficial, hospitable and always late.
do not live to work, but work to live.
more than 20 years in Mexico city, it has become MY city, you love it
or you hate it, there is no other way.
I wrote this article in Danish 15 years ago, it was published in Danes World Wide, I made a Google translation and edited a couple of things.
Now onto the daily life today
15-20 years ago the shopping in Mexico was a disaster, modern clothes for women was nearly nothing or outdated, my size in clothes and shoes, not available, because of this we went frequently to Texas and made our shopping there.
Today we find nearly everything locally, but there are still things lacking or difficult to find, so we continue our shopping trips, one or two times a year, of course for B&O vintage, and things cheaper or just not available here, this may be because we are a 2 nation household, and we have other interest than the normal Mexican family.
For our son we had to pay a lot for private schools, the official free schools are bad, and run with under educated teachers, as Danish schools are non existent (I wonder why), we choose for him a German one, when he started in primary school we paid about USD 200.00 monthly 12 month a year, last year when he graduated in High school, we paid USD 700.00 a month. Well, it paid out, now he is in DK studying in a Danish university for free, and the Danish state pay him monthly a sum to live, as he says "barely". A Mexican worker has an average income of USD 3-400.00 a month, Christian gets about USD 800.00 a month, so we tell him "live with it".
Will come back with more when I feel for it
I didn't realize we have a section like this! That was a great read, thanks Søren :)
Just discovered through Søren's recent forum link!
Yes, a great read!