I have been staying for the past week in an area called Observitario which is located just out of downtown, near to a few trendy neighbourhoods and an enjoyable 20min ride to the centro. Our nearst metro station, Tacubaya, is a major commuter hub and is totally engulfed by all types of street vendors and markets. I’ve enjoyed getting lost in these street market areas, browsing for the odd thing I need and seeing all the types of people. Sadly, I’m not eating at any of the many street stalls or even buying my fruit here (there is another beautiful and clean fruit market nearby I go to in the morning) because I’ve gotten a little street-smarter about street-eating. One cardinal rule is the further from transit stops the better.
Nearby are the areas of La Condesa and Roma, two somewhat gentrified/hipster areas with beautiful architecture, mature streets, rapidly increasing rent and an abundance of youth, culture, cafes and nightlife. Condesa features one single avenue called Tamaluipas where all the licenses were given which reminds me of 6th street I visited in Austin earlier this trip. A friend named Tania gave me a great cycling tour of both areas where we explored street art, some old hidden churches, and I was told about the history of Roma which she did her thesis on. Another street, Amsterdam, used to me a giant horse racing oval before the neighbourhood was designed and built, so that street is very wide with a central pedestrian path featuring large mature palm trees, and forms an oval around Parc Mexico. It’s also been cool to be centered in these areas because they are where I would most likely have been if I had stayed at York University and done an exchange here next year. Universidad La Salle is right here in Condesa, so I have gotten to imagine would it would have been like – buen!
The ‘centro’ is of course the Mexico of postcards – the old city built on the site where Huitzilopochtli originally found the eagle with a snake in its mouth sitting on top of a cactus (the emblem on the Mexican flag). This was a sign for him to build Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), only the cactus was in the middle of a lake. While most everything is filled in now, many of the oldest buildings show signs of being built on less than solid ground. Not being a photographer myself I haven’t tried to capture all the beautiful architecture and sites too much because I just disapoint myself, but I can only imagine it would be a photographers dream here. In addition to the highly commercialized old city, there still seem to be some really authentic commerce, business and trade areas right in the core. I really love is the way commerce is organized here, just like in the Middle East. Each street sells a specific and fairly defined genere of product… like the doorknob, keys and handles street, the sinks street, the sports street, the musical instruments street, and yes, the bicycle street (which is strangely also one of several prostitution streets). All this is built around the famous centro square and cathedral, and is soaked in a sea of foods stalls and street vendors.