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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