Mexico City… A nice place to visit, but I don’t think I would want to live there. The good, the bad and the… uniquely Mexican.

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ANGEL OF THE INDEPENDENCE in a glorieta on Av. Reforma,

the beautiful main street lined with sculptures.

In Mexico City or D.F. (Districto Federal) The traffic congestion is not as bad as you’ve heard. They restrict certain days for certain license plated cars. About 10% of the cars are off the road on any one day. For us foreigners, we can’t drive any day between 5 and 11 a.m. we can’t drive on Monday (our license plate restricts us that particular day) and we can’t drive the first Saturday of the month. Got that? Most of the streets in the city are one way streets. Thank God. We drove twice in the city, both times to Costco, and got lost both times. . . a thing that will test a marriage is getting lost on Mexico City streets with your spouse.
Mexico City car drivers are an impatient lot and honk for anything. I think we all know Mexican personalities change once behind the wheel of a car. Without car: Type B: relaxed, calm, tranquilo.  Driving: Type A: hostile, aggressive, inconsiderate. Here, like Guadalajara, drivers will never stop for pedestrians and are not concerned about driving “pequeno tarde” through a red light.  I did not see any speed signs for any streets in the city. In defiance to these Kamikazi drivers, pedestrians jay walk across streets and against lights at intersections. Tickets for such behavior? You kidding? The police never say a word. BTW many of the traffic police officers are now women. Apparently women are less likely to take bribes I am told. Dogs do not roam the streets ( see above comment about Mexican drives for why that is)

The Metro (subway) in Mexico City is fast, efficient and (subsidized by the government) cheap. 2 pesos to ride and you pay no more to connect to another line. On a train ride you also have vendors (many blind) who wander through the trains selling everything from flashlights to CDs to maps to…?

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ON THE METRO

Diego Rivera’s murals are everywhere, understandable. He is Mexico’s most famous and revered painter. Outside of Mexico his wife Frida Karlo is more famous thanks to the Hollywood movie.  I dare you to come to this city and not see a Diego mural or the likeness of Frida on a piece of merchandise. Can’t be done.

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THE DIEGO RIVERA MURAL AT THE DIEGO RIVERA MURAL MUSEUM

Pollution (insidious): Crappy, yellow air, stings the eyes on bad days. Once again the culprit is the car. I think most people Lakeside in Chapala realize (maybe they don’t), how lucky they are to have very little pollution (so far.)

As you know the Mexican economy is in horrible shape. Unemployment is very high and getting worse, so consequently there are incredible amounts of merchandise and food stalls on the streets—-The Mexican are an industrious people. Most of the main streets are lined with vendors selling every imaginable thing you could want and many you don’t.

To live in Mexico City: There are a great many things to do and see. The American ex-pat community is spread out and invisible in a city of (Take your best guess) 18 million, We arranged to met one ex-pat that we knew of. He loved the the city and would live no other place. He had lived in New York and was a big city dweller.

The prices for restaurants and services are a little higher than Lakeside Chapala. Unless you speak Spanish well it would be difficult to feel accepted in many social circles.

There are not that many older Americans running around and we got stares, particularly on the Metro trains. My wife could, maybe, pass for Mexican (until she opened her mouth) but I will never, ever be confused for a Mexican man. German, yes, Mexican, no way, Jose. Of course there are not many white people on the metro either. They mostly drive creating the traffic and pollution.

Markets: Wow! If you love wandering through all kinds of markets, Mexico City is for you. Some of the markets are an endless walking cornucopia of all things under the sun.  A bewildering, confusing tangle of sights, sounds, smells that defies description. The word “entrepreneur” applies to most of Mexico’s population it seems. This city sells everything and anything… And speaking of selling… On one street I noticed young, overly dressed, women standing around lining the street. As a veteran of the U.S. Army (with a good conduct medal) and having served overseas in Southeast Asia I immediately recognized the women as…let me use an euphemism… good time gals? I wanted to talk to them, for journalistic inquiry only, but I was sure my wife would see no reason for my professional curiosity and my Spanish probably wouldn’t be sufficient for just talking.

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AT THE TEPITO STREET MARKET

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IN THE HUGE MERCED MARKET

Hoods: The neighborhoods of Roma, Condesa, Polanco and Coyoacan need to be mentioned. They are for the most part quiet tree-lined streets with large well-kept houses. The neighborhoods are an eclectic mix of boutique shops, upscale restaurants, clean jardins and the restful familiarity of the best of city life. We spent many a wonderful afternoon walking with the ROCK STAR dog away from the boom and bang of Centro.

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LOVELY NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS AND QUIET NEIGHBORHOODS

Mexico City is a wild and wonderful place and for one month, our length of stay, there was plenty (too much) to see and do—Art galleries, museums, parks, restaurants, performance art programs, markets, etc, etc, etc, But this city is not a retirement, relaxed environment. It is a BIG, bustling impersonal city like New York, Los Angeles or Toronto. The denizens are in constant movement, marching to their own Mariachi band and, as such, you get the good, bad and uniquely Mexican way of life in MEXICO CITY.

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FRIDA & DIEGO’S HOUSES IN THE SAN ANGEL NEIGHBORHOOD

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AN EXHIBIT FROM THE EXCELLENT MUSEO DE ARTE POPULAR

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INSIDE THECOURTYARD OF THE MUSEO NATIONAL DE ARTE

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SUNDAY MORNING BICYCLE RIDES THROUGH CENTRO

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IN THE SCULPTURE GARDEN AT THE UNAM

with 280,000 students one the the largest university in the world.

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THE NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART ON THE UNAM CAMPUS

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AMERICAN BLUES PERFORMED AT A NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE IN ROMA

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STREET THEATER ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IN CENTRO

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WATCHING FROM A BAR IN THE ZONA ROSA WHILE MEXICO KILLS THE USA SOCCER TEAM

One Response to “Mexico City… A nice place to visit, but I don’t think I would want to live there. The good, the bad and the… uniquely Mexican.”

  1. Linda Samuels Says:

    Wonderful observations and pics of DF. The first time I was there was in 1965, and indigenous people still wore the clothing of their villages, and vendors still piled up their merchandise in pyramids. You can see how it was when you go to the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park. You see the diorama of what the Spaniards saw as they entered the city, the great Pyramid, and you see the vendors there with their merchandise in pyramids. It blew my mind.
    At that time, Mexico City was very lovely, clean air, busy but not harried like now. I still visit there and like it, but I wouldn’t want to live there, either-and I am/was a BIG CITY GAL.
    Thank you so much.

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