Mexico City is a place with many names and many personalities.
Polluted. Sprawling. Enormous.
Those were pretty much the first words that came to my mind when I thought about Mexico City and yet, we despite not a single positive word that came to mind, were drawn to visit. Having skipped Mexico City the first time through Mexico in 2009, we were determined to cross it off the list. It feels like we’ve had a taste of everywhere else in Mexico, so we might as well take a stab at the heart of darkness, literally.
And so back in the travel saddle, we found ourselves passing a few days in Mexico City before a wedding.
On our first day in town we went to probably one of the most impressive anthropology museums in the world. The Museo Nacional de Antropología covers all of the famous pre-Columbian peoples in Mexico from the famous Aztecs to the lesser known Toltecs. It was a bit like traveling through Mexico again, each room we visited was another stop through memory lane. Food stalls hawked chili covered peanuts and fried grasshoppers.
On our second day we spent the morning exploring explore Tiotihuacan and the in the afternoon Templo Mayor. I stood in the middle of Aztec ruins, looking at the stone altar where they performed human sacrifice. The city and traffic buzzed around us and the bell tower of the second largest cathedral in the new world shaded us from above.
On our third day I sat in the Zocalo, drinking an ice cold beer, watching the numerous vendors hawk their wares, sat in on a children’s theater performance for dia de los meurtos and watched a man cut himself with glass for money on the metro.
How on earth can I add all of this up into one cohesive tale? It’s like being a part of the Palo Volador, multiple personalities spinning through the air.
My story of Mexico City is much the same of the city it’s self. Layers upon layers of interesting history, hidden gems and stories worth exploring. We crossed the city on the metro, zipping underneath fancy neighborhoods, rundown areas of town, old churches, new sky scrappers and high-rises. The city once paved in gold according to Cortez now sits uncomfortably crowded in the middle of a drained lake, a population pushing resources to the brink. And yet parts of it remains charming. The city parks are alive with young lovers, families and friends enjoying the freedom of sunshine. The base of the angel statue is dotted with teenagers and adolescents hanging about and wherever you go you are greeted by a genuine smile and a firm handshake.
It is a city of discrepancies, a city of multiple personalities not easily summarized in one story.