Hubris. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; when I think of Mexico City, and the audacity of its existence, I think of hubris. That’s not to say I hope that tragedy overtakes the city; I just think it has always been the site of impossibly grand visions and overreaching desires.
Hubris would also be a good way to describe my ongoing attempts to claim some sort of intimate knowledge of DF. The last attempt is far less embarrassing than the first. I can’t help it though; the city is so attractive, so dense and layered, that it invites investigation, and doomed attempts by us country bumpkins to gain some sort of mastery of it.
Anyway, here is some more of DF’s awesomeness…
The birdmen on La Reforma
I stumbled upon these sculptures early on the morning of the Bicentenario. La Reforma was empty except for the parade floats wrapped up in tarpaulins, waiting for the evening’s festivities. I’d seen similar sculptures by Jorge Marín before, I think in DF’s airport. Here, though, were a whole bunch of them, surrounded by greenery, in an almost silent DF. These figures are nothing like DF’s better known angel; they are broken, pensive, masked, they are performers and harlequins. Such terms are not becoming of divinities, which I guess is why I think of them as birdmen.
Doenjang Jjigae in DF’s little Koreatown
It took me a minute to even realise that I was surrounded by Hangul. We were in the Zona Rosa, on our way to the Bicentenario parade, when we started to notice that the Korean alphabet was all around us, splashed across restaurant and shop signs. No matter how ambivalent your relationship with Korean food may be while you’re living in the country, once you leave you’ll be craving the comfort of kimchi. The photo menus in Zona Rose were about the most exciting thing I saw there. And the food is the real deal. The doenjang jjigae I ordered there brought on the food sweats such as only Korean food can.
Double serpent-headed mother of the gods
Somewhere in the Aztec hall of the Museum of Anthropology is a panel that explains how in Aztec society women were considered dark, passive, emotional and lunar (the usual line, basically). Then just in case you thought women were these weak, defenseless things, there is the statue of Coatlicue to set you straight. The mother of a varying swag of other deities, she was decapitated by a daughter, and out of the wound grew two snake heads. Her skirt is a writhing tangle of serpents. Around her neck she wears a necklace of human skulls, hands and hearts. Legend has it they are the remains of the machistas who wolf whistled at her in the street.
Damned hippies at Teotihuacan.
Climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, the biggest pyramid at Teotihuacan and one of the biggest in world, and you won’t find a lot of exhausted people spellbound by the view or the grandeur of the monument they just scaled. Instead you’ll find a frantic, babbling knot dressed in white and holding ancient relics while jostling to touch the tiny metal disk embedded in the apex of the pyramid. Apparently it is full of celestial energy. I could be wrong, but as far as I know the Teotihuacan civilisation did not actually work with metals. I assume it was the aliens that put it there.
The couches in Alameda Central
DF takes its toll on your legs. Walker that I consider myself, I prefer to see the city on foot, but always find that I can’t do half as much as I feel I ought to be able to do. This is why the couches in Alameda are so important. They are indoors, in a cool, dark space, and they are deep and comfortable. They also happen to face Diego Rivera’s Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda, one of his most famous pieces. You can get lost in the mural for a very long time. You can get lost in the couches for even longer. They have a dangerously soporific effect on tired, visiting bumpkins.