The Heart of Mexico

I recently visited Mexico City, one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world. It’s the capital of the country; the most important cultural, financial, educational and political centre of Mexico. This North American city is located in the Valley of Mexico; the origins of the city go all the way to the Aztecs, who built it on an island of Lake Texcoco (following an old legend) during the mid 1300’s.

Angel de la Independencia

As soon as I got there, two earthquakes were felt in the city, “You don’t have to worry”, said the girl from the lobby of my hotel. The Defeños and Chilangos are used to this and many other random things that the city has to put up with. Regardless of the bad reputation it had before the war on drugs, (one of an overpopulated, unsafe, traffic clogged city) DF, as it is mostly called, is now a dormant monster which allows its inhabitants to carry on with their lives, investments, jobs, studies and to welcome visitors like me.

DF has something for everybody, from the ancient Aztec ruins behind the Zocalo, the Chapultepec forest crowned with the only Castle in the Americas (true story), a milliard museums and a diverse and vast offer of restaurants, to the interaction with almost 21 million people who live there.

If you are planning a trip to Mexico, visit the capital, go to the Zocalo, enter the Cathedral, try its public transportation (the underground system is marvellous and freaking cheap), and eat whatever gets in your way, you won’t regret it.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Mexico City is, by far, one of my favourite cities, so much culture, national identity, education and with some of the best food in the world. My recommendations: La Condesa‘s night life, Coyoacan‘s casual drinking, Bellas Artes, the Memory and Tolerance Museum, and eat whatever the city has to offer, so much flavour (Unless you get the Moctezuma’s revenge… in that case: Pepto Bismol).

 

Ps. Don’t worry about eating too much, as far as you walk it off.

Ps2. Did I mention that the weather is sweet as most of the time? 20 Celcius.

Day of the Dead

Death is understood all around the world in different ways. In Mexico death has its own day: the Day of the Dead. This isn’t a festivity for mourning, regret or sadness, au contraire mes amigos, death is a celebration in Mexico.

ImageThe Day of the Dead can be tracked back to 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, passing through the days of the Aztec civilization with the adoration of goddess Mictecacihuatl (c’mon, say it, don’t be shy), until modern days, where the “lady of dead” became the modern Catrina.

We celebrate the dead in two days; November the 1st is to honour the children and infants; and the deceased adults are honoured on the 2nd. What do we during these days? Mainly three things:

1. Spend some time with the dead; we visit the cemeteries, bring to our passed relatives their favourite foods and drinks, flowers, and we clean their graves.

2. Altars are a must; we make an altar or shrine (as big as we can afford it but always with seven levels), using bright colours (mostly orange and yellow), where we put pictures of our late relatives, flowers and their favourite food.

3. We eat “Pan de Muerto” (bread of the dead) and “Calaveritas” (sugar made skulls) with some hot chocolate (if you live in the US, try getting the “Abuelita” brand, freaking awesome).


Day of the Dead
is the way we Mexicans celebrate death. Instead of fearing it, we greet it, respect it and, through our beliefs, interact with the souls of our dead relatives.

Maybe that’s why Mexicans get over the loss of a relative or friend faster and better than other cultures, because we acknowledge death as a temporary and relative stage of the gone soul; a soul that wanders freely through the universe, coming back to where it belongs every year, to say “hi” to whom it left behind.