Mexico City: Part Deux

I don’t know why part 2 is in French when it’s the German influence that is so (odd and) apparent in Mexico City. Likely because most people have never seen 2 in German (zwei) before so “Mexico City: Part Zwei” sounds like a chapter out of a sci-fi book. But yes, the numerous Volkswagens, pilsners, accordions, polka beats, and organ grinders are all influenced by Germany.

Mexico City was huge and we spent 12 days there. The Guy is an Anthropologist so of course, one of the first things we did was go to the Museo Nacional de Anthropología.

Rich and Important Guy’s Grave
Mountain Guy’s Grave
Baby’s Grave

There were artifacts featured from the Aztecs, Mayans, Olmec, Toltec, and others including murals, statues, and pottery among other works of art. But apparently I really liked graves. Here’s a photo that was not a grave:

Aztec game where they threw a stone ball around with their hips. If someone scored on the side of the sun, they became a sacrifice. Stakes were high.
Sample Aztec Temple

In the same area, called Chapultepec Park, was the zoo. We also went there for a visit.

These monkeys sat right next to the glass. The one on the left stood over my shoulder when I reached in my purse. They were very curious.
My first panda! He sat leaned against a log with a buffet on his stomach. Kung Fu Panda did not lie, they love to eat. We came back 2 hours later and he was still eating.

Chapultepec Park also had a modern art museum but the last time I went to one of those in Long Beach, California my friend and I laughed at a sleeping bag glued to the wall. We figured we could skip it. Instead, we climbed to a castle on top of a hill but were too late to get inside so we admired it from outside.

In a different neighborhood was a 4-story underground aquarium.

Their exhibits mimicked decorative fish tanks, more aesthetic than functional
Upside-down jellies
These sea snakes reminded me of The Little Mermaid
Sea urchins, different from the Pacific ones I’m used to

In the same area was a free art museum sponsored by the richest (or second richest, depending on the year) man on earth, Carlos Slim. The building was extremely modern and everyone was dressed in suits and dresses. We were in our summer wear, but went inside anyway.

The first floor was composed entirely of asian-inspired carved ivory.

Man and 2 Dragons
An entire chess set, my favorite piece

The second floor was older European inspired paintings.

3-D piece of art
The Blind Musician

The third floor was all dedicated to paintings of Venice.

And the top floor held statues with an especially large number from Salvador Dali. I’m a big fan of his because his work is so odd.20150910_152049



See what I mean?

On Sunday, in another part of the city they had a Parque del Arte (art park). The Guy bought sketch supplies there so he could get back into drawing. He’s really quite talented so I’ll host his work when it’s completed.


 We also visited the lost ruins of Teotihuacan and climbed to the top of The Temple of the Sun.2015-09-16_11.12.24


Lastly, we made a stop at the National Palace (the equivalent of our White House).

Interior courtyard
President’s library

Inside, the palace had a mask museum with thousands of masks. Here are a few exceptionally creepy ones:




The walls of the Palace were covered in murals from Diego Rivera, depicting events from Mexican history. Here’s one:


Inside the congressional meeting room:

Panorama of the circular room
The ceiling

Those were almost all of the places we visited for sightseeing. Experiencing the city was a bit different. The disparity between lavish wealth and devastating poverty was all too apparent. Most of the city looked like this:


Or this:


As far as nightlife went, we didn’t have to look very far.

We stayed in a ghetto neighborhood in what we later discovered was the prostitution district. (How does this keep happening to us?) Well the main road had construction and we couldn’t find a left turn across the subway tracks so we stopped at the ‘rooms for 250 pesos’ sign.

This sign was posted at the front desk in addition to hourly and daily rates:

Some of their rooms are equipped with this seat so you can enjoy more lovin’ with your partner, it says

We weren’t allowed to pay for more than one day at once. I spent the majority of my time, I’d say about 20 hours, doing this:


I was mostly looking down at this abandoned stairwell I eventually nicknamed, “The Dungeon.”: 20150907_183411

It looks very innocent in this photograph, but the truth is often far from appearances. It was an underground cross walk that had been closed off. The gate was pried open which allowed vagabonds to live in there, climbing in and out at all hours of the day, fulfilling their drug addictions. I’d estimate at least 30 people living there permanently with an additional 50+ daily visitors. Our portion of the street had an unusually large number of transgender prostitutes who looked incredibly rough and ragged. Women worked more often during the day or farther up the street, but not on our block. Sometimes there were male prostitutes too, young and dressed very well, or old and a little ragged. They all found patrons.

We made sure to return to our room by sun down. The first time back in our room, the strong scent of a man’s cologne greeted us although the window was wide open. It had been mere minutes since someone had been in there. The maids later told us the boss liked to go through the rooms at his leisure.

Outside the window  every evening, a young woman and two boys would stand at the top of the stairs while the boys yelled into the stairwell. Eventually, two males would come out. One would leave with the woman and kids, while the other went back down the stairwell. Sometimes he would embrace her, other times he’d be aggressive and violent.

As the nights wore on, the city would quiet down. The acrid smell of urine wafted up from over 4 stories below. Its heavy scent would be masked by cologne, laundry detergent, cherry hookah, marijuana, or whatever scent-producing activity the people below me engaged in. But the smell of urine always returned so heavy it made me nauseous. One night, loud cracking came from the stairwell, eventually followed by the smell of wood. Loud whoops of excitement came, then wailing like the slow release of pain. The wood quickly turned into burning rubber which pierced my nostrils and made my eyes tear. The thick grey smoke should’ve evacuated the tunnel but somehow, nobody came out.

A well dressed young kid tip-toed down the stairs, sidestepping a puddle, and peeked nervously around the corner. He sat at the bottom of the stairs for a while. Some time passed and he sat at the top of the stairs until he decided to climb out. He seemed exhausted and sprawled out on the sidewalk for a few beats before dragging himself away. I realized he must have just done heroin.

I watched the prostitutes work all night. My favorite came out after 2AM. She wore the same black top, jeans, and heels every night. Almost all of the patrons were taxi drivers. Across the road was a bus stop that was used for drug deals on Monday nights. Numerous cars would park with their hazard lights on (after the bus stopped running) and wait. One taxi driver pulled over for a prostitute and got his right on the main road (they normally drive away, do the deed, and circle back). 2 minutes later they sat talking in the front seat until a police car drove by and she waved it down. They all stood speaking in the street. Eventually the taxi driver drove away as the prostitutes made kissy noises and offered more to the police, but were declined.

The police presence was strong. A patrol car drove by at least every 10 minutes, often times more frequently. But that’s not necessarily saying much. One night, loud screaming came from the tunnel. One of the prostitutes ran up the stairs but didn’t climb out. A thin guy holding a log followed her and began beating her with it. I yelled at him in an attempt to get him to stop but they were in their own world. She climbed out and ran into incoming traffic, waving at a police car who paid no heed. She continued around the corner running and screaming as the man walked after her with the log. After some time he went back down into the dungeon by himself. She appeared about 30 minutes later holding her own log. She thought better of it, leaned it against the wall, and went back down without another sound for the night.

Another night, the prostitutes had a huge argument over the corner. Two competing groups were trying to use the same corner and the argument became so heated they abandoned their girlish voices and yelled at each other in their natural voices. It looked like a huge cross dressing event.

There were many more drug deals, drug usages, prostitutes, and arguments. Growing up, I read every drug memoir I could get my hands on. It seemed surreal to witness these events. I assigned a past to every person that staggered by with all the reasons for their decisions. I wondered at what point one feels like they’ve lost their dignity or if it just happens over time. I didn’t feel so very different from any of them. I could be one of them. The reality is harsh.

It’s one of the main reasons I love big cities. All the facets of life are in your face. Wealth, poverty, luck, unfortunate circumstances. The combination really puts life in perspective and I FEEL the insignificance of my own life. If someone shot me down, the wheel would just keep on turning. That type of realization is both the most terrifying and exhilarating thing. It prompts you to value and embrace the time you have. It’s an unparalleled feeling of existentialism I’d only felt from one other city before; New York City.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Mexico City. But I was also ready to stop smelling the constant sewage and go out at night again instead of watching life from atop a tower.

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