What a long day!

It takes a bit of time to settle into a new city after a very long day of travel. Alarm goes off at 5am reminding you what an awful sleep you had, then an Uber, then customs, then waiting, then flying, then trying to rest, taxi to a strange place, security codes, unpacking… and so much more.

That was all yesterday. Today we just launched right into tourist overdrive, just to recalibrate. We went into Zona Central – Plaza de la Constitucion, and Palacio Nacional with its massive central square. Very impressive, grand structures.
We walked along to the National Post Office which has a lavish metal interior with cool artifact (bikes, motorcycles, etc.) on display. It is still an active post office and I was ‘shusshed’ into not taking pics of the workers.
There is a massive garden courtyard area nearby with massive jacaranda and palm trees (and free wifi). There were teams of brightly coloured (and completely covered) workers picking up trash (mostly dog shit) throughout the park.

It took a few rounds of dog-chasing-its-tail to arrive at the Diego Rivera Museum but we eventually found it. There is basically one massive mural there that was originally in a government building. In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 1985 (8.0 – magnitude for three minutes, killing over 40,000 people and forever altering Mexico City), the Rivera masterpiece was restored to its original state.
Then… 32 years later TO THE DAY (September 19, 2017) a 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City again. The building that housed the mural had to be demolished and the mural was moved to its current location.
It is a remarkable work with a compelling narrative laid out explicitly for all to see: corruption, greed, workers, politicians, communism, church… Rivera did not shy away from confrontation. Truly a masterwork.

From there we headed to the Palacio de Bellas Arts which was spectacular. An amazing exhibition of indigenous arts from antiquity to contemporary work. And once again, an incredible collection of murals.

At this point, we’re getting hangry and located a cool place that Lori had highlighted. Very beautiful interior, with several couples looking deeply into each other’s eyes as they frolicked through their meals.
We’ve seen numerous couples out on the streets embraced in that love-locked tangle of limbs that is unmistakable – very tender moments. We, on the other hand, just tucked into our enormous meals. Beautiful interior and impeccable service from attentive staff in their crisp, luminous white linens.

In the morning, our Uber trip took about 15 minutes to wind through a labyrinth of streets to deliver us to the old centre of the city. After lunch, we decided that we’d walk off the meal, heading generally in the direction of home.
Well, we walked through the city for hours and witnessed a full spectrum of real Mexico. From brash, loud street markets with vendors and ravished beggars, to police stations, barkers hawking their wares, miles of gritty auto repair shops, dog grooming boutiques, a wrestling stadium, and countless roadside food stalls with mobs of people hanging out.
But one stretch of a many blocks was particularly memorable. We crossed through a few back lanes, and turned onto a street that was lined with funeral centres. Lots of them. Then there was a long series of storefronts for caskets, one with a truck way overloaded with blunt, featureless caskets ready for delivery. All this lead up to long lines of people lined up to get into a major hospital, that looked like an armed fortress with high metal gates with razor wire. Lots of weary, sickly, and desperate people just waiting. It was a humbling sight. Two healthy, privileged white tourists winding our way through a very troubled sea of humanity.
This was not the gentrified Roma Norte neighbourhood where our cute Airbnb was located. We never felt we were in danger – people were composed and attentive. We were just from another planet, passing through en route to our temporary home.

We walked for hours through those streets and returned exhausted on many levels. We tried to have a nap to regroup but we couldn’t quiet our minds. Dinner at a nearby spot was great and we sipped mescal margaritas while mariachis played nearby.
A very full day on so many levels. So rich with experience already, and it’s only our first full day.

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