city at night

city at night

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Lights in Mexico City

Yesterday, after having spent the afternoon visiting Alejandro, I decided that I would venture to downtown Mexico City to see the Christmas lights.  I waited until around 7:30 P.M., hoping that the worst of the rush hour would be over.  I took the subway since there is a station only a block from my hotel.  The trains were packed like cans of sardines.  Five trains came and went, and I remained standing on the platform  It's not that I was being too docile and not pushing my way inside.  The locals also were just standing there.  There simply was no room for more people to cram themselves into the cars.  The station authorities must have reported the situation, because suddenly there appeared a train that was completely empty!  We were able to ride in relative comfort.

I took the subway to the Pino Suárez station.  From there I could have switched to a different line and gone to the Zócalo, the main plaza of Mexico City.  But I decided instead to leave the station, and walk the five or six blocks to the Zócalo.

  This Christmas tree stood outside the Pino Suárez station.

For the past few years, the city government has been setting up a skating rink on the Zócalo during the holiday season.  I am sure that going ice skating is a delightful and unique experience for the many local families that visit the rink.  However, the installation, which fills the entirety of the vast plaza, is, in my opinion, downright ugly and destroys the majesty of the historic Zócalo.  It is nothing like the beautiful holiday ice rink in front of New York's Rockefeller Center.   The facility is behind barricades, and you can't even see the skaters. The skating rink has also been a center of controversy.  Critics say that, in a city where half the population lives in poverty, the money could be put to much better use.

On the south side of the Zócalo, the twin buildings which house the city government were festively decorated with Christmas lights.

However, the public buildings on the other sides of the Zócalo... the National Palace and the Cathedral... were dimly lit.  I really expected more spectacular illumination for the holiday season, and I was rather disappointed.

 (The lighting of the Cathedral looks much brighter in this photo than it actually was. Most of the brightness is reflection from the lights on the skating rink.)

From the Zócalo I walked down pedestrianized Madero Street, the main street of the city's historic center.  The atmosphere was festive with crowds of people, but there were no Christmas lights nor decorations to speak of.  At the end of Madero Street is the Latin American Tower, which once was the city's tallest skyscraper. It was illuminated in shifting green lights. (At least, I think those are green lights; I'm mildly color blind.)

It had been quite a few years since I had been in Mexico City during the Christmas season. I remember the holiday decorations as being more impressive, so I was a bit disappointed in my excursion downtown.

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