city at night

city at night

Friday, March 1, 2024

Marching into March

It's time to turn the page on the calendar.  For the month of March, my calendar, which features Mexican works of art, has a painting by Diego Rivera, arguably the most famous Mexican muralist.  

Rivera painted a series of murals in Mexico City's National Palace depicting the history of the country.  He began in 1929 and continued work off and on into the 1950s.  He never finished the ambitious project and only got as far as the Spanish conquest. However, the paintings that he did are incredibly rich in detail.

Here is one of the panels from the National Palace depicting the Totonac civilization which flourished along the gulf coast.


In the foreground an Aztec tax collector is receiving tribute from the Totonac chief.  In the background is the Totonac capital of El Tajín, including the city's most important temple, the Pyramid of the Niches.  You also can see the ceremony of "los voladores" (the flyers) in which dancers launch themselves from a tall pole, their feet tied to ropes, and they spiral to the ground. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

"Popo" Is Still at It

The volcano Popocatépetl to the southeast of Mexico City continues to spew ash into the sky.  I went up to the roof of Alejandro's this morning, but the sky was hazy on the eastern horizon, and the volcanoes were not visible.  However, this webcam photo shows the mountain still fuming.


The winds have turned in direction, and the ash is now directed toward Mexico City.   On Tuesday, 22 flights were cancelled at Mexico City International Airport due to safety issues from the ash.  However, I looked at the airport's website this morning, and there did not seem to be any disruption to flights.  Here at Alejandro's house, there is a very thin layer of dust in the courtyard and on the terrace which Alejandro and his sister are sweeping a couple times a day.  What surprises me is that this dust is slippery to walk on.

I looked at the Weather Channel's air quality forecast for Mexico City.  They list the air quality as moderate.  Every type of pollutant (ozone, carbon monoxide, etc.) is listed as good except for small particulate matter which is listed as moderate. In the words of the Weather Channel...

Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

So, the situation does not seem to be serious.  Nevertheless, I am spending my time indoors. 

Monument with a View

After listening to part of the free concert on the Zócalo on Saturday, I headed back toward Insurgentes Avenue where I could take the Metrobus back to the apartment.  That took me past the Monument to the Revolution.  


An elevator takes visitors up to an observation deck which offers a 360-degree view of the city.  I have been to the observation deck a number of times (and I have written about it on this blog).  However, I have never been up there for a nighttime view.  On weekends the deck is open late, so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Here are some views from the Monument...


Looking to the east, there was a full moon.


Directly beneath the monument, on the Plaza de la República, a taco festival was underway, with 100 of the best "taquerías" in the city participating.  There was a long line to enter the festival.





To the southeast is the newly completed "Be Grand Reforma", a 50-story high-rise of offices and luxury apartments.




Looking to the south is the line of skyscrapers along the Paseo de la Reforma.




To the west, the skyscraper on the horizon in the center is the headquarters of PEMEX, the government-owned Mexican petroleum company.  To the left is another high-rise apartment building which is nearing completion.





Completing my circuit around the monument, looking to the north, you can barely make out the silhouette of the Guadalupe Mountains, and the lights of the TV and radio antennas on top of one of the mountains.






Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A Free Concert

Last Friday when I was downtown, I saw lots of posters publicizing a free concert on the Zócalo the next day.  The concert was to be given by "la Orchestra Monumental de Pilares", a community orchestra made up of people, young and old, who have attended government sponsored music workshops.  I decided to check it out, and late Saturday afternoon I took the Metrobus downtown.

I arrived at the Zócalo shortly before 7:00 when the concert was scheduled to begin.  The musicians were in place on the stage.  (The stage extended beyond the range of this photo.  It was a BIG orchestra!)  The orchestra is composed of 1300 instrumentalists and singers, making it the largest community orchestra in the world.



The audience filled much of the Zócalo.




Before the concert began there was a somewhat long-winded speech by the current executive of Mexico City, Martí Batres.  It verged on politicking in his praise of the ruling party for establishing the "Pilares" program in which residents can attend free workshops to learn a variety of skills.



Finally the concert began.  Obviously, I was not expecting a performance on the level of the Vienna Philharmonic or the Cleveland Orchestra.  The performers are all to be applauded for their efforts, but let's face it, these are beginners.  Even the fact that there were 1300 of them amassed on the stage could not hide that fact.  It was like attending a humungous elementary school band concert.  Also, the loudspeakers tended to distort the sound.  With that many performers, was amplification really necessary?

The pieces that they performed ranged from the popular Mexican standart "Bésame Mucho" to the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.




After about an hour, I discretely made my exit. There was something else I wanted to do while I was downtown that evening, which will be my next post.




That day, February 24th, was also Mexican Flag Day.  So here is a photo of the flag flying over the Zócalo.





Tuesday, February 27, 2024

On the Zócalo

After my shopping trip last Friday, I passed through the Zócalo, the vast main plaza of the city.  Recently the city government made the entire Zócalo a zone exclusively for pedestrians.  The streets on all four sides of the perimeter of the plaza have been closed to vehicles.




There were barricades closing off part of the Zócalo that day because they were setting up for a concert the next day.  (More about that in my next entry)


In the middle of what used the street in front a city hall, there was a giant chess set, and two young people were playing while spectators gathered around.


 

The Zócalo has always been a stage for protests.  Now a group of indigenous people have set up tents on the plaza and are camping there.



Their banner says, ¨No more abuse of authority.  We demand respect and equality for the indigenous peoples."


It seems that no matter who is in control of the government and what their promises might be, it is always "los indios" that get the short end of the stick.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Street Music

There are always street musicians performing whenever I walk down 16 de Septiembre Street in downtown Mexico City, and last Friday was no exception.

First I came upon these percussionists performing Latin music.  (Notice the couple who are dancing on the sidewalk.)



Down the street was another fellow who was playing the drums.  A guy passing by, who I suspect was a bit tipsy, was swaying to the rhythm.



Finally, there was this very good singer who was performing "ranchera" songs.



Sunday, February 25, 2024

Shopping with a Purpose

 On Friday I went shopping downtown with two specific goals in mind.

GOAL #1

In the kitchen of my apartment, by the phone and the intercom, there is a circuit breaker box.  The former owners had a souvenir from London hanging on the wall to cover it.  It's not that I particularly disliked what was hanging there, but it didn't cover the entire box.


I wanted to find some sort of plaque or an "azulejo" (decorative ceramic tile) that would cover the whole box.  I took the measurements of the circuit breaker as well as how much leeway I had with the phone and intercom.

I took a tape measure with me and went to the Ciudadela Handicraft Market.  I walked every aisle of that large market.  I found a few possibilities, but, when I measured them, they were not the right size.

I finally gave up and headed to my destination for shopping goal #2.  As I was walking down 16 de Septiembre Street, there was a vendor selling works of paper quilling.  Quilling is an art form in which strips of colored paper are rolled and curled to form decorative designs.  One of the pieces was framed and under glass.  I took out my tape measure, and it was the right size.  I had accomplished goal #1 after all.

Here's how it looks in the kitchen.


It could have been a fraction of an inch wider, but the box that it is hiding is barely noticeable.



A very pretty handmade item



GOAL #2

The office in the apartment is where I plan to do my painting.  The easel is already set up there.


There are plastic mats on the floor, so I don't have to worry about spilling paint on the carpet.  Next to the easel is a cabinet that will be useful to store my painting supplies.  However, when I am painting, I want to cover that piece of furniture so that I don't get paint on it.  Thus, my second shopping goal was to buy a plastic tablecloth.

I walked from the handicrafts market about a mile to the department store Nuevo Mundo.  The store is located near the Zócalo not far from the downtown branches of the bigger department store chains of Liverpool and Palacio de Hierro.  I find the employees at Nuevo Mundo to be exceptionally helpful and friendly.  One clerk directed me to the top floor, and once I was there, another clerk helped me find exactly what I wanted and then directed me to a cash register to pay for my purchase.  Unfortunately, the tablecloth was made in China, but I had expected that.



With my two goals accomplished, I headed back to the apartment with my purchases.