Now, of course one could write about México
(usually written "Mexico" in English, and officially named "Estados Unidos Mexicanos") for hours, and still not quite get to the point.
There are several reasons for the slipperiness of the subject. First of all, it is a very big country. You could easily lose Belgium somewhere in it. The single state of Veracruz is bigger than Italy, and it is only one state of the federation.
Then, it is multicultural. There are many indigenous people and cultures, the cities are very different from the countryside. There are mountain people, desert dwellers, sailors ...
Basically, whenever some tells you "I know all about Mexico" he is bullshitting you. At most, one can know something about it, and again only at a particular time - things change fast. The Mexico of General Cardenas was vastly different from today's country in many things. Of course, for the Huichol not much has changed - but Mexico City became about ten times bigger !
We are doomed to incompleteness. I now realize that this is true for many subjects, only for Mexico more so.
So, let us start:
My personal Mexico
My personal Mexico is first and foremost the southern part of Mexico City
, comprising Coyoacan
, a healthy chunk of Periferico
and the UNAM
is also in the South, but I don't go there often: no doubt it is a surreal place, you can be on a boat, floating among the egret
s and the duck
s in absolute blessed silence, save for the occasional lowing of a cow
in the distance, admiring the little artificial islands (called chinampas
): and this in the middle of a fairly populous district of the biggest city in the planet.
Truly Mexico is a place of opposites.
Mexicans travel in peseros, and practice Mexican democracy.
Mexico introduced me to hot food, taught me the beauty of violently saturated colors, and violently saturated fats.
Mexico made me a boss, and I hope it does not unmake me soon.
Outside Mexico City, I know Veracruz, Oaxaca, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Pachuca, San Luis Potosí, and Villahermosa. I also visited Cancun, but I was not happy about it.
The Mexican newspaper I read is La Jornada, and at times Reforma. Mexican TV I mostly avoid, although the wrestling matches could have some surreality interest.
As a background, I have the volcanos: the Popocatépetl and the Iztaccihuatl. Of course, only when they are visible. Pollution is quite strong. On bad days, the sky is gray and you can't even see the Ajusco, let alone the volcanos.
Fun activities that I engage in
I like misleading gringo
tourists in Mexico City
I walk up to them
when they are lost, and with my flawless but slightly accented gab
I induce them to board
s that will take them to parts of the city that do not even appear on maps.
To selected Midwestern
tourists I suggest local dishes that are served in ceramic dishes
because they are so hot anything else melts.
When they ask me for the US Consulate or Embassy, I route them (with the help of a friendly
taxi driver) to the Mexican Forestry and Hamster-Powered Devices Office where they will be
eaten alive by secretaries and rabid hamsters.
To the would-be cool dudes from New York, I sell dried epazote under the guise of grass. And
I am not making a profit on that, since ganja in Mexico is very cheap; it is just an effect of my
When I feel just mildly nasty I simply tell them to go to Cancun - that is punishment enough.
I eat tortas in torta stands (the cheapest are at UNAM). Every now and then, a little trip to Oaxaca. I have a giant statue of Benito Juarez, with laser eyes !