Walking through Bosque Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park) the lush greenery captures my gaze. The sound of vendors vying for attention captivates my ears. I listen as they call out, “Aquí, aquí! Te doy precio...aquí, aquí!”. (“Here, here! I’ll give you a price... here, here!”). The hustle and bustle of chilangos (city natives) and tourists alike enjoying the park is enthralling. The colorfully woven patterns of embroidered fabrics set out for display...vibrant pinks, brilliant yellows, vivid blues...my senses are delighted. This is Mexico City!
Coyoacán, Zona Rosa, La Condesa, La Colonia Juarez, Roma... the many different neighborhoods and the rhythm of each is so lively and energetic. Ben, our trip leader, drew up an ambitious itinerary and boy, did we explore! What better way to gain an understanding of a city, its people and its unique character and charm if not by walking its neighborhoods, observing its people, smelling and tasting its deliciously fragrant and aromatic food? Pozole (a tangy and hearty stew), tacos al pastor (deliciously flavored pork strips placed on corn tortillas with cilantro), enchiladas (tortillas filled with meat, cheese, beans, and vegetables topped with sauce) and mole (a traditional thick and dense sauce made with either a savory or sweet base) were just a few of the mouthwatering foods sampled.
The pre-Columbian history and the abiding presence of both the Aztec and Mayan people who inhabited this area is unmistakable and omnipresent. Viewing the pyramids of Teotihuacán and imagining the sacrifices made, the lives spent in the shadow of these massive structures and the approximately 300 years it took to build them is awe inspiring. The mystery of the pyramids is one that provokes investigation and exploration. One can’t help but meditate on the civilization surrounding the pyramids, its prosperity and ultimate decline.
Exploring this sprawling city was truly an amazing experience and I am indebted to the Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS) for including me in this wonderful journey. I am looking forward to traveling here again soon and continuing my exploration of this wonderful and vibrant city. My perspective has been forever altered.