Monday, 6 July 2009

First week in Mexico

It is raining. Not like it does at home, where at this time of year one expects a light, warm rain or a sudden, short-lived downpour with lightning and thunder. Nor like storms in Dublin, where one almost never hears thunder but instead it rains constantly, continuously. In Mexico, the rain is different, heavier, louder. The last two days of sun seem like a distant memory - and yet it has only been raining for half an hour. Sitting in our safe house, I have the feeling that the rain is trying to burst inside, banging on the walls with all its strength, probing the limits of their resistance. The rain is sneaky, it quiets down for a moment, only to attack again with twice the force. It seems to Bjarni that he is in a middle of a very noisy waterfall, and - remembering our trip to Seljalandsfoss - I can't resist a similar impression. A part of the sky remains light-blue, another part is already hidden behind the big, heavy clouds, beautiful and scary at the same time. It's impossible to see anything through the window - all one can see is those big, big drops hammering against the pane. Bang, bang, bang..

We've only been in Mexico for a week and I have managed in the meantime to both hate and love this city. Lying over 2000 metres above sea level, surrounded by mountain ranges, the city itself is an abode to almost 9 million people. The city and its subjected areas is home to over 20 million, which makes Mexico City the third most populous city agglomeration in the world, after Tokyo and Sao Paulo. The crowds are everywhere here: on the streets, in the parks, in the metro. The city is loud, jammed and polluted. The buildings lost their lively colours long ago and nowadays the whole city centre seems to be homogenously grey. The sight of policemen on the streets, with their shotguns and belts full of bullets, instead of reassuring, makes you wonder how dangerous it is here. TRANSIT cops direct the traffic but it's still not enough to silence the honking horns, warnings in the chaos. What looks like a roundabout is not one after all and it's almost impossible to make heads or tails of the lively intersections. Poverty coexists here with wealth. Shabby buildings are lined up with skyscrapers. On the metro, one encounters all sorts of peculiar people. Singing and shouting beggars. Peddlers of CD discs with backpacks stuffed with huge speakers, playing their wares at full volume, offering what must be counterfeits for 10 MXN (now in style: Michael Jackson). Children/youth/elderly selling chewing gum/algebra books/crosswords/... The metro itself is very cheap: for 2 MXN (about 0.10 euro) one can buy a one-off ticket, valid until one leaves the system. One can change lines, eat, shop, drink, travel back and forth - for 2 MXN one could travel forever if only the metro didn't close at midnight.

The centre of Mexico City scares me: it's incredibly chaotic, dirty and overcrowded. I'm slowly getting used to my surroundings though and I'm starting to see the pros of the city: an abundance of museums; the beauty of the picturesque stalls of the Coyoacan market that takes place every weekend; the ideal taste of iced coffee in a small cafe we encounter by chance; reasonable prices in the restaurants; billiards close to our house. I'm discovering new things about myself: for example the fact that I dislike the smell and taste of baked corn, that I am actually capable of touching a snake, if only for a few moments.

My only concern is that at this rate, I will end up loving spiders - and that would make me a completely different person..


  1. "Reasonable prices" is an understatement. By our standards the food here is practically free; yesterday we splashed out, stuffed ourselves and had 2 beers each. We were then a bit ashamed of ourselves for spending so much money on lunch and waddled around feeling quite fat.

    The bill?

    Less than 15 euro, total, and more than half that was drinks...

  2. Ewelina, you're poetic! Your blog brought a distinct impression of the city to life. We look forward to hearing more from both of you. Glad to hear you are both alive and well. I'll have to remember that about the baked corn... Hugs, Marcia


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