I’m writing the beginning of this article in an AirBnB in the elegant La Condesa suburb of Mexico City. The trip is a family adventure – I might not have had reason come here otherwise.
It’s a vast city – as you’d expect with more than nine million residents. And, despite all those souls, the city is almost entirely free of litter; not just paper, but empty beer and cool drink cans, even cigarette ends. Most other cities would do well to take note.
Sadly, there’s more than enough artless graffiti to make up for the cleanliness of the streets.
What I didn’t expect was such an intermixture of Latin America and Spain, with liberal doses of art deco for good measure. I also didn’t expect to encounter such polite, helpful and accommodating locals. Based on what I’m seeing, it would be easy to question Trump’s modus operandi against the nation with a quick WTF? But that’s for another day.
Economically, Mexico has not been in the best of shape in recent times (which country has?), but there’s plenty of building going on and even more renovation, so things may be looking up.
Photographically, my pre departure research set my expectations quite low; this isn’t a city full of fabulous sights and broad horizons. Zocalo – the huge plaza at the heart of the old city is much as you’d expect, save for its giant Mexican flag, which in the listless air, hangs against its massive pole. The plaza and surrounding streets teem with people, both locals and tourists. Many buildings and homes are clearly in need of a lot of TLC which hasn’t been forthcoming for quite a while – the financial constraints are obvious.
If street food is your thing, or you are on a limited budget, it’s well worth studying-up on the endless varieties of taco and travel bargains to be had. The local craft beers are pretty good too. Better news still, an Uber ride is around half the cost of a comparative journey in say, London.
Unprepared for much in the way of photographic exploration, my street wandering quickly showed me being given lemons again; the low angle of the winter sun and almost limitless features that make up pretty much every perspective the city offers. I can make lemonade from that.
A city of textures. That’s how I’d try to describe Mexico City. Blobs of colour, huge dynamic range; deep shadow to bright low angle sunlight. A great learning experience if you don’t understand your camera, or its abilities very well.
In short, find a leafy suburb and wander. Take in the light and shade, especially as it falls on the century old art deco façades that seem to be everywhere.
So, Mexico City – interesting and fun, but definitely not a DS-branded Undestination. Shame that.
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You have indeed made lemonade with these images, Paul. I’ve been enjoying them on FB, and am enjoying the rest here on DS. You’re right about it being a city of textures – adobe, graffiti, shadows, metalwork, doors, colors – and you’ve captured them brilliantly. I always have a hard time photographing in Mexico, in part because I get distracted by the chaotic nature of the buildings and the street scene. Your collection here gives me a new focus for future journeys south of the border. Thanks for sharing.
Apart from the intrusion of art deco, these photos are reminiscent of your native haunts in London, Paul – except for the lack of rain.
I think the best street art I’ve seen is in France – as distinct from graffiti, which generally seems to suck. I can’t think why anyone would get out of bed “in the wee small hours of the morning”, and waste their time and money, simply proving how idiotic they are and damaging other people’s property in the process. True talent among street artists, though, is worth admiring and preserving.
A nitwit with too much money and no idea what to do with it has been blowing a heap of it in the past few years, buying a block across the street from here and erecting a hideous three- and four-storey block of apartments. Much of it painted black, which is the worst possible choice in a climate as hot as this. And on the eastern wall, he engaged what he thinks is a “talented artist” to paint an enormous graffiti “art” picture of a moron on a surf board, in a “tube”. The painting sucks – all he’s achieved by putting it up there is to prove what everyone already knew – that he has no sense of the aesthetic, which is why his building is so awful.
But I’ve spent many happy hours admiring some of the works done by masters of this art form, around Paris and elsewhere.
I am left wondering how Mr Murdock.Barber would get on these days, in Oz – we’ve long since passed the stage (here) when people expressed horror at the “f” word – they don’t even both to beep it out, on TV, any more. But I rather suspect that people would still demand that he described himself as classy-as-something-else.
Well, well, well. Speak for yourself, blue wall. I’d have no hesitation in taking a similar image, too. I do like your eye – it’s as well organised as a draftman’s schematic – as exemplified by how your images are crafted in your post. Well done, Paul.
Well, how about that. We are at this moment in Playa del Carmen. Not an undestination – scads of cruisers and package tourers but we are here for a month and living over a Yamaha dealer in a very local area. Can I call it a micro-undestination? I’m not as fast as you with this – dreadfully slow, actually – but will try to get something together from the sunny Yucatan. I’d like to channel Edward Weston but those days are over. By a hundred years or so.