Otra vez – Mexico

I just arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico after a long, late-night bus ride from Acapulco. The temperature dropped significantly and it’s a freezing cold morning here in the city. Kind of like it was in Mexico City, where I spent seven days with a friend’s family in Ecatapec, a north-end barrio in the world’s third largest city. Mexico City, or Mexicity to me, is a gigantic, overpopulated and, at times, chaotic place with a lot to offer locals and tourists alike. My objective for the week was to catch a few sights that mattered most, of course.

I started off visiting the Aztec ruins a few hours north of the city called Teotihuacan, then Tepoztlan to the south. Both were beautiful, ancient relics of a magnificent empire. My tour guides were members of my host family and trained archaeologists, so I was able to get context with the sight.

The Basilica of Guadalupe was also an extravagent affair. It’s the holiest site in all of Mexico, dedicated entirely to their patron saint. Immediately, I was fascinated by the grandeur of the building and those surrounding it. My friend Melina told me every Dec.12 (today) millions of Mexicans celebrate the day of Guadalupe, while a massive procession marches to the basilica from the countryside. Quite a spectacle, I can imagine.

In Centro, my first destination was the Zocalo, or Plaza de la Constitution, where it seemed the entire nation was milling about, taking pictures and causing a pedestrian nightmare. I continued my walking tour to Palacio Bellas Artas, which is just that: a beautiful palace of the arts. Then I entered the Mexico City metro, following the crowds, and literally rode a wave of people into the metro car. Not joking.

The most memorable for me was Casa Azul, el Museo Frida Kahlo, and Casa Leon Trotsky. The two are located in Coyoacan, one of the more refreshing areas of the city, where people can walk leisurely instead of with purpose. At Casa Trotsky, I was reintroduced to one of the greatest revolutionaries and saw where he was murdered by Stalin’s agents. The best part of his home was Trotsky’s personal book collection, where I got an idea of what the man read to keep him at the vanguard.

El Museo Frida Kahlo was spectacular. It was a place I had read about and always thought of visiting one day, but to actually be there and walk through her home was a surreal experience. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing her collection of art and seeing her life before my eyes. Kahlo’s artistic rederings of her unborn child still in the womb and her uncompleted self-portraits made me appreciate her life’s work even more.

In all, Mexico City is an interesting place worth visiting, even though everyone says not to, because of the rich culture, history and of course, the food. Just stay away from the street vendors, and most importantly chapulines, they are fried crickets in a tortilla shell. Trust me, don’t listen to them when they say it’s good. If you give it a try, you’ll soon know why they call it Moctezuma’s revenge. Not a nice feeling.

Adam Bemma is a journalist, humanitarian, and media consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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