The Great City of Mexico City

The Great City of Mexico City

(Thanks to Laura Piermartiri for the translation)

From the 46th floor of the Latin-American tower, it is impossible to see the  boundaries, immense and located at 2,200 meters above sea-level. The roofs of the houses stretch as far as the eye can see out of Mexico Valley, part of the Texcoco lake area. Suddenly, San Francisco does not seem so big any more. In the recent past years, the Mexico City metropolitan area, incorporated 40 surrounding municipalities, extending the area of the Federal District: the urban population grew up to 9.7 million people and that of the metropolitan area up to 24.7. A big city as large as Mexico City or DF (el defe – as the majority of Mexicans call it), needs a big square: the Zócalo, formally called Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square), is actually the third largest square in the world. When we first reach there in the early afternoon, the first thing that strikes us is its emptiness. Perhaps because of the hour of the day and the sun’s heat, the square is completely empty: neither a passerby nor a street vendor, or a child. The exact opposite of the streets downtown where rivers of people incessantly flow in all directions, overcrowding the city center in an ordinary Friday afternoon. We decide to join the flow and to dive in the noisy stream of people passing fast, so we find ourselves in front of Cafe Tacuba by chance. Stefano says, “We can eat here, I know there is a band called like that.” We go inside. An elegant mustachioed waiter opens the door of what appears to be a normal café, whose entrance is a simple wooden door. Instead, the Cafe Tacuba is not just a place to eat something: it is one of the historical sites of the DF, where in 1922 Diego Rivera organized the wedding banquet for his marriage with the writer Guadalupe Marin and where many Mexican presidents and governors used to dine. Struck by the beauty of the frescoes on the walls and of the decorations on the ceilings, we sit to taste some delicious enchiladas (corn tortillas filled with cheese and covered with tomato sauce) while a mariachi band starts playing traditional music. Happy for this accidental discovery, we leave the Café satisfied and with a map in our hand, we try to decide a direction. Where do we go? Difficult to choose among the tons of things to do and see in DF. We decide to start with Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and the Archaeological Museum.


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