Calling one of the world's largest urban jungles 'home', I'm generally one to avoid cities while wandering the rest of this great planet. However, traveling to our neighboring country's capital city on a whim, based on the suggestion of an accompanying friend, proved even more fascinating than I could have imagined. Of course, visiting during Semana Santa (Holy Week leading up to Easter, a very special time for this predominantly Catholic country) and calling a converted century-old jewelry factory loft in the Zócalo Historic District my 'home away from home' certainly added a touch of magic as well.
Mexico City - a city built on a city built on a lake. The entire metropolis is sinking, in some areas as much as 9" per year. Every building is leaning, every wrought iron gate just a little bit twisted. Countless buildings bare cracking facades and slowly crumbling structures. And yet, in the midst of all this, I couldn't help but fall victim to the city's unexpected charms... the beauty in its romanticism - architecturally, geographically, and of course, in its people.
A new surge of local graphic design in the last few years made for show-stopping street art. Original murals were around every corner, adorning anything from shopfront shutters through to temporary construction walls. The intricacy in their buildings, tile mosaics, and wood crafted doorways was so incredibly beautiful, with frequent homages to their sustained fascination with skulls and deep reverence for Virgen de Guadalupe so deeply rooted in their culture's history.
Must-see stops included the inspiring Frida Khalo museum (I instantly regretted not bringing my camera along for this visit - an exhibition of her legendary work & wardrobe hosted in the very house where she was born, lived and died), the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe (both new and old), and UNESCO world heritage site, Teotihuacan - Mesoamerican pyramids surrounded by mountains and built by a lost civilization pre-dating Aztec inhabitation, where prisoners of war would take their last steps as they climbed to the top for human sacrifice.
But, as is often the case, it was in the more subtle details that the true beauty of this ciudad was revealed: the cultivation & culinary uses of cactus (YUM), light bouncing between low brightly coloured buildings mirroring each other across narrow cobblestone streets, vintage cars with extraordinary character, piles upon piles of ceremonial dancing masks hidden deep in local markets, and the many uses of the Maguey *Wonder* Plant (my favourites being its resilient textile fibers and delicious fermented sap used to create Pulque).
Mexico City - you have most definitely stolen a little piece of my heart.