So, what is my favorite Metro station? As with all favorites, it’s hard to tell. If you ask me this question in a few years, perhaps I will give a different answer. But for now, my favorite is a true reflection of my life living here.
Let’s see some events happening at this station, as some sort of allegory of the City. In no particular ordering, here they are.
2-hour walk versus 30-minute bus ride
In the first month after moving to Mexico City, I learned that this station would lead me straight to the Bus station back to the old maternal home. Someone told me how to get there easily, but I was still afraid of getting lost, so I printed a map and walked almost two hours to this station. It may have been silly, but that walk helped me recognize the landmarks along the way, so later I could tell easily if it was time to get out of the bus or I could sneak in 10 more minutes of shut-eye.
Getting drunk and lucky in the same night (but not in that way)
A very street-smart friend of mine called me one Saturday morning, around 6 AM, asking me for my shoe size. After telling me that he wasn’t drunk, I accepted to take to him a pair of flip-flops I had lying around. Turns out, he went out for drinks, lost track of time and arrived at the station around 3 AM, long after the station closed. His plan was, since the first trains depart at 5.30, he could just wait two hours instead of paying lots for a taxi back home. He fell asleep and —we guess—a homeless person saw him and robbed his shoes. It was supremely strange, mostly because his shoes were the only thing missing: wallet, cash, keys and watch were still on him.
He’s since slept several times waiting for the metro to open and this has never happened again—or so he says.
What it means to say ‘yes’
One of the shortest but sweetest relationships I’ve had started at this station. One could argue that our relationship started when we slept together two weeks before, but we agreed to meet at this station for a proper talk about it. We met, went to a nearby restaurant and started bluntly with all the difficult topics: yes we had known each other for years; yes we both wanted it and none were under the influence that night; yes these feelings had been latent for some time and had only increased; yes that romantic tension turned sexual very fast that night; yes we both enjoyed it; yes we were both scared of ruining the friendship; yes we were both willing to try it. That station saw the true start of our story together.
Bad memories and growing apart
She and I moved to the City without each other knowing, within 6 months. Once we learned this, we established Wednesday nights as our night of coffee- (or beer-) powered therapy. Almost without fail, we meet and talk about our changing lives, the many ways in which this City is helping (or not) overcome people and situations of the past. I walk her home every time.
One night, a perfect storm. She forgot her keys and the lights go out in the building, so no intercom to ring. As we’re waiting for her roomie to take her call, two guys approach us from behind, one puts something pointy to my throat.1 She’s screaming, tugging her bag from the other guy’s hands. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I manage to stay more or less calm. I tell the guy behind me «All right, you win. I’m just going to take this thing off slowly», but as I do, the bag’s handle gives off and she loses her grip on it. She falls down on her butt, the guy behind me pushes me to a lamppost and they run off. The whole thing took less than 2 minutes.
We get up and run inside the station. She’s crying, doesn’t answer any of my questions, or the officer’s. She calms down a bit, but doesn’t want to leave the station, so I return to her building and ring her roomie. Dude’s not at fault: he was taking a shower and saw only one missed call from her, so he thought it wasn’t anything urgent. He escorts her back inside, officer puts a call on the guys based on my poor description and asks me to initiate proper procedure. Nah, I think. I just want to get home, too.
Despite trying many, many more times, we never saw each other again. After a few months, she returned with «The One» and my workplace went to shit. We both get new jobs, move to new places and eventually get new phone numbers. Wonder how she’s doing.
Fanaticism and human currents
During my first week at this job, my boss asked me to print and deliver him some documents to his business lunch. I took a taxi, but when I arrived he called me and told me he had to leave with the client. No problem, I’ll take the metro to the client’s office and meet my boss there.
What I didn’t knew was that this station is like a Mecca for “chakas”, stereotypically low-class, uneducated, solvent-inhaling fanatics of St. Jude Thaddeus.2 Every 28th of the month, they flock en masse to the Church of Saint Hippolytus3 and back to their homes. I was caught on the return tide and was forced to ride all the way from this station to Pantitlán. It was literally like being caught in a river or other strong current, except that this one was made of humans. Eventually, I made it to my destination and my boss apologized for not warning me of this event. «Next time I ask you to come on a 28th»—he said—«just remind me of St. Jude and we’ll arrange another pickup point.»
Oh, man. Where do I begin?
- The original mural «Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central» is nearby, in a micro-museum,
- The Palace of Fine Arts,
- Sebastián’s «horse head» sculpture, which I don’t find particularly beautiful, but some people are very vocal about this artist,
- The Museum of Pulque and Pulquerías, «The best curated museum»4 with reasonably priced drinks and free botana.
- My favorite mezcalería. Well-priced, nice music and quite cozy in cold nights.
Much ado about small cycling accidents
This is a long one. Get some popcorn.
I’ve only had two bicycle accidents in my urban biking life; the worse of them was near this station. I was cruising along the main street on the bike lane. At this particular crossing there’s a speed bump, no big deal. I see a car waiting for traffic to clear so that he can merge. Just as I clear the crossing, the car bumps into my back tire and I lose control of my bike.
Now, this wasn’t a real hit, remember that scene in «Atlantis: The Lost Empire» where Milo is slowing everyone down? It was that kind of bump, a very accidental move. But, given the size of the car, it was enough to make me lose control of the bike, hit squarely against the curb and send me rolling on the ground. Bike across the lane, several other cyclists going around me, a few motorists honking at them for suddenly changing lanes…
However it looked way worse than it was. The bike itself suffered no damage and I was wearing a coat, so no bruising. I fell on my right elbow, so it hurt a lot, but I could easily move it around.
Before I could properly react, the whole thing had become a real scene. Two people helped me up, a fellow cyclist parked right in front of the car and I heard a voice telling me that they were going to get the transit policeman nearby. Someone handed me a note with the car’s plate number. By the time I got up and took the bike into the curb, there was a police car flashing its lights, and an officer asking me if I was OK. Another officer approached the driver and asked him to step out the car and hand over his license for verification.
I tried explaining the officer that I was OK and it had been a minor accident. I was more hungry than hurt. The officer explained to me that he couldn’t just let me go, because he had formally issued an emergency ticket or something. This meant that emergency services were notified, the camera footage would be retained if necessary, and—given the situation—he needed the paramedics to officially issue a report on my condition post-accident. Also, since the bike-sharing program was government-supported I had an insurance package that covered certain medical procedures if needed so a claims adjuster was on his way. Moreover, if the bike had suffered any damages, the driver could also face some charges for destruction of public property, so the adjuster needed to assess the bike’s condition.
The poor driver was visibly nervous, maybe a bit scared. Both officers saw that this wasn’t a big deal and started filling some kind of form. The driver approached me and asked me how I was. I assured him I was OK and not interested in suing for what had clearly been an honest mistake.
The ambulance arrived and I was asked to step in. A paramedic asked me some questions, then asked to see where it hurt the most, then felt my wrists and elbows. Save for muscular pain and some bruising, I was fine, recommended to buy some aspirin if the pain got worse. I signed a form saying I was OK, I signed another form for the adjuster saying that the bike’s mudguard was already broken when I took it. Several more minutes passed and adjuster, ambulance and officers went away with their forms properly filled.
Driver asks me if he can give me a lift, but I refuse. The whole thing took the better part of an hour and I was starving. The closest, fastest food nearby is within the station, so I went down, payed for a trip and stuffed my face hole with Domino’s.
With some street smarts, this station and its surroundings is perfect for getting around many places I love in this city.
- Metro: This is a transfer station, which means it goes in four directions, two per metro line.
- First direction leads to the Monument to the Revolution, the very interesting Santa María la Ribera, the very dangerous Pensil and to that no man’s land connecting to Mexico State called Toreo/Cuatro Caminos.
- Second direction takes you to the best of the best of downtown, the small shops of Tacuba street, the largest public square in the country. Past that there’s the multi-faceted Tlalpan street, full of transit chaos, connecting sketchy love motels, awesome ethnic food, museums, a former love interest, two former bedfellows and finally, one of the four Major Bus Stations of the City
- Third direction goes North, near another Major Bus Station. In its path one can remember a particularly bloody night and the use of religion as an agent of colonization.
- Fourth direction is the best. In order, the best place for old-school danzon, an hospital, the gentrified Roma neighborhood, the low-key awesome Narvarte, that place where we saw BerlinskiBeat live, the National Film Archives, greenhouses with all sorts of plants, the best place to print your thesis on the cheap and finally, my beloved UNAM
- Metrobus: Rapid bus. All through Reforma, either to the upper-class Polanco or to the very popular Basilica of Guadalupe
- Bike/Ecobici/walking: Easy access to the Ciudadela market for handcrafts, trendy restaurants in Juárez neighborhood, the extremely tiny “Chinatown”, the hidden gourmet market of San Juan, my favorite cantina in the city, the weekly bike circuit through the City… you name it.
I’ve probably used this station more than any other in the whole network. I protested when they removed the food stalls. After writing all that, I’m sure I have more memories with this station than with any other. As my love for the City grew, so did my love for its metro.
«Ahí está, ahí está viendo pasar el tiempo.» Right under the Reforma-Hidalgo crossing.
Metro Hidalgo, named after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Serving the city since September 1970. Thanks for all the fish.
A ReQuested writeup: «Andycyca: tell me about your favorite station on the Mexico City Metro».
To this day I don't know whether he had a real threat or just a pencil, but I wasn't taking any risks.
in Catholic tradition, the Patron Saint of the impossible.
See: Hippolytus of Rome.
Untranslatable joke. The museum's tagline is «El museo mejor curado», referencing to both the act of curation in a museum and the pulque-derived beverage known as Curado.