Mexico City……. Traffic, Flavor, History, Family
Coming into Mexico City out of the curvy roads of highways 4&5
Climbing into Mexico City, at 8500 ft above sea level, meant taking the back roads and trying to keep the speed low to reduce stress on our fuel rich engines. Parts are scheduled for delivery in Cordoba, Mexico on December 8th and until then we needed to buy some time. Luckily, we had a contact in Mexico City and spent a few days exploring the city’s history, eating the food, and dodging the unbelievable traffic.
After a six-hour ride, cutting our way through the mountains outside Mexico City, we finally laid eyes on the expansive Ciudad De Mexico. Trees traded for concrete, we dipped into the valley of smog and was immediately bombarded with the most densely populated roads we have ever met. Our only comparable experience is Ho Chi Min City, but we were not driving. There is an estimated 21 million people that live in Mexico City’s metropolitan area, 7x that of our native state of Iowa.
Dinner with Vanessa and her Father(a famous singer!), Muy Delicioso.....
We waded through the traffic, breathed in the polluted air, and noticed our boogers growing twice as fast. Vanessa, our contact, met us outside the city center. We never met before, yet she greeted us like family with a kiss on the cheek. She brought us to a restaurant owned and managed by her family. The experience that followed was most intimate and appetizing. The restaurant was like stepping into their home and sitting down at their table. Yet, it WAS a restaurant and there were many other eaters present, adding to the atmosphere. Herbaceous aromas filled the air as Chiefs proceeded to produce the most delectable dishes right in front of you.
(Orange) our Accomodation
We stayed in Vanessa’s home for three nights. Even her home, a modest lower level apartment in a building her grandfather constructed, showed evidence of the recent earthquake (September). Mi Casa es Su Casa, she said, as she encouraged us to park our motos right in her living room. It was great to let down a little and spend some time in a place where we felt like part of the family. While staying here we had the privilege of meeting her father, mother, and youngest sister. Except for their mother, the three work together running the restaurant and other entrepreneurial endeavors. It was fascinating to learn about their businesses and the differences between entrepreneurship in our contrasting societies.
Aztec ruins, hiding behind cathedral in city center
Mexico City is one of the two oldest cities in the Americas. First built in 1325 by the Aztecs, some of the original structures are still present today, although, most have been destroyed or gobbled up by a lake that use to occupy the area. In the mid 1500’s Cortez and the Spanish took the city and proceeded to build new catholic churches over the old temples and sacred places of the Aztecs/Mexica people claiming their dominance(by smallpox).
Original foundation of Spanish architecture, like this, seemed to sit roughly 8 ft lower than street level
These Churches today, made of heavy stone or European marble, are slowly sinking into the soft ground of Mexico City. The seismic activity also adds to maintenance issues. Two smoking volcanoes sleepily stand south east of the city, a constant reminder of the tectonic movement.
Although it was not a place we would choose to live, we can see the draw towards the city. For when one is not looking at its expansiveness and buries oneself in a single neighborhood, café, restaurant, market, you seem to forget that there are 23 million moving parts that make up this beautiful place. It all just flows together as a single unit, functioning as one, and the day just passes by.
23 million packed into a valley in the mountains
The hardest part our experience in this great city was also one of our most enjoyable nights to date. On Saturday, we spent the day exploring and met up with Vanessa’s sister, Jadisha, that evening. We engaged in some drinks at a lively, yet, calming park with some surrounding restaurants. The dialogues that followed were spoke in mixed tongue, but, mostly catered to our English, and swept a broad array of existential topics. We felt fulfilled at the end of the night except for one thing that persistently interrupted our conversations. Salesmen, and not your 45-year-old Mexican guy selling sombreros, but children under ten years of age, most of which seemed to be girls.
We couldn’t help but wonder where their parents were, and why they were out so late seemingly alone, in the dangerous streets of Mexico City. We’re not talking about two or three kiddos, more like twenty to thirty over the course of 3-4 hours. Who was watching them? feeding them? clothing them? LOVING them? It was hard to watch these children get shewed away by the mass’s that night, yet it seemed to be normal for those in attendance.
Ross Talking with reporters about the purpose of our trip
The next day we had to ask Venessa what was going on with these children, yet, we could feel her reluctance toward our question. Obliviously, for every bright side (our perspective of the city) there is a dark, and the warnings we had heard about the dangers of the city became real. Vanessa told us that most of the salesmen from the night before were stolen children, working for their owners. She explained the reason people don’t buy from the children or give them money is because it only propagates the problem and entices the kidnappers to add to their labor force. The reason they steal children so young is because their begging pulls at the strings of our hearts. Unfortunately, the more people give the more children get stole and put to work. The saddest part is the career of these children (mainly girls) is short lived as they DO grow and get taller and older. When this happens, some get sold to others for sex workers and some are turned back out onto the streets, never being taught anything but to beg, to fend for themselves.
We would not wish this life on anyone and it was hard for us to experience that night despite the engaging conversation. Since then we have left Mexico City and traveled to Cordoba to wait for our parts. The city has an Orphanage, the same one that Mike visited on his journey, and we are spending time learning about what is provided. So far, we can tell these kids are lucky they have found a place that cares for them and provides them with a home and love.
We will be here through Saturday at which time we can repair the bikes and take off for Guatemala.
Thank you for following our journey and your support.