Friday, January 2, 2009

A City of Contrasts


My first impression of Mexico City is that it is a city of contrasts. It is a city where new and old meet--sometimes gracefully, often awkwardly and at times quite violently. On my adventure through the city today, I saw centuries-old Gothic cathedrals with gilded chandeliers, illuminated by compact fluorescent light bulbs. I strolled through the zócalo, surrounded by high stone buildings but filled with an enormous government-sponsored ice-skating rink. It was complete with a sledding hill, snow man-making station and Santa/manger viewing area, despite the fact that it was  a balmy 73 degrees out. There were also government employees handing out condoms by the foot to just about anyone who came their way--teenage boys, old men, housewives, teenage boys again...

    

The Grand Cathedral off of the plaza dates back to the 1500s and was serving at least two masses when we wandered in around noon on a Friday. Amongst the ornate chapels and elaborate Jesuses on the cross stood a pendulum that measured the church's sinking into the soft soil of the former Lago Atitlán. It was a scientific device that appeared out of place in the 500-year-old Cathedral, but its arrival in the 1950s was soon followed by the jingle of cell phones, which could be heard throughout. I even heard beeping coming out of the confessional. But while it may appear ancient in some respects, the Cathedral is actually quite new compared to its foundations, which are composed of the ruins of an Aztec temple. Looking through a glass window down into the dirt outside the church we could scarcely make out a pair of skulls, buried only a few feet below the courtyard in their nameless grave.

We rounded out the day at the Chapultepec park, where a vendor at a film stall sported a Mervyn's brand "Santa Cruz Beach" t-shirt. ¡Bienvenidos a México!

1 comment:

  1. Very good !!!
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