Tuesday morning, my boss asked me to catch a plane that afternoon and fly to Mexico City. I’m posting this from one of the largest and oldest cities in the world, and since I have some time to kill, I thought I’d give you some impressions.
Mexico City was founded by the Aztecs, who were wandering in search of a new home and settled here when they saw an eagle land on a cactus, fulfilling a vision. The place has been a booming metropolis ever since.
I caught a taxi from the airport at 11:30pm, and even that late at night the streets were clogged. This city seems continuously in motion, as though it’s alive. Bright lights, moving electric signs and sprawling buildings all mix with residential neighborhoods that seem to go on to the horizon.
Many people walk here, using buses, taxis and the subway system to cover larger distances. Because there is so much foot traffic, there are all sorts of vendors who set up shop on the sidewalks.
A very typical entrepreneur sells candy and gum arrayed on a small table cloth spread right on the sidewalk itself. Women carry steaming kettles of fresh tamales from home and do brisk sales on street corners.
Pushcart vendors sell fresh fruit juices — aguas — or hamburgers cooked over a small charcoal fire or tortas — sandwiches served on a fresh-baked roll.
Then there are small restaurants only big enough to seat about 6 people. They set up plastic tables and chairs on the sidewalk to create more eating space, and serve a variety of Mexican favorites from inexpensive, fixed-price lunches (comida corrida) to fresh tacos in the evening.
So as you walk from place to place, your nose is constantly entertained. And if you’re hungry, a tasty lunch is often only a few steps away.
Musical car horns are popular, playing “La Cucaracha” or “Guadalajara” or some lesser-known melody. At traffic lights, you are required to blow your horn if the light has changed to green and the traffic does not move within microseconds. In a culture that is otherwise so easy going about time, driving here is always pedal-to-the-metal. A taxi is an E-ticket ride.
There’s a flower market nearby, with dozens of outdoor stalls filled with flower arrangements and cut flowers of every description. As I walked by this afternoon I heard a quiet “sssssst” from inside of one of the stalls. It’s how a vendor tries to catch your attention to show you something you might like to buy.
Mexico City is a magical place. More later.