Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bringing in the New Year

There are still a few hours remaining to the year 2017, but I just hung my 2018 calendar, a custom calendar that I ordered with photos which I took in Mexico City.

No New Year's Eve revelry is planned here.  At midnight I will open the front door, ring the dinner bell which belonged to my great-grandmother, and then go to bed.

The first week of the new year will be busy however.  Tomorrow I am invited to spend the day with one of my former teaching colleagues and her family.  I have been spending New Year's Day with them for the past several years, and we always have a very nice time.  Then there are more mundane activities planned.  On Tuesday the plumber is coming to repair a leaky pipe in the kitchen, on Wednesday I have a dentist appointment, and on Thursday I am taking my car in for service.  Then on Friday there is something enjoyable on my schedule.  My cousin and I are going to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see a special exhibit called "The Jazz Age".  

The following weekend I must get ready for my departure for Mexico on January 9th.
And then I can say "Adiós" to the snow and cold of an Ohio winter.


Happy New Year to all my readers!
Feliz Año Nuevo

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Wintry Blast

I guess that Mother Nature wanted me to have a taste of winter before I leave for the milder climes of Mexico.  She sent a blast of Arctic air that has kept us well below freezing and given us nighttime lows in the single digits (Fahrenheit).  On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day our lows are forecast to be below zero.

Although the ground is covered with a blanket of white, we have not had the extreme snowfall that some places have had.  I live in the western suburbs of Cleveland, and here we do not get as much snow as in the "snow belt" on the east side of Cleveland.

(Image from the web)

As you can see from the map above, just to the east of downtown Cleveland, the shore of Lake Erie slopes northward.  That means that the westerly, moisture-bearing winds coming across Lake Erie dump the most snow on the east side of the city.  This "lake effect" snow is even worse along Pennsylvania's coast.  Thus, while I only have a few inches of snow, the city of Erie, Pennsylvania was buried under five feet of snow!

Of course the "pendejo" in the White House has used this winter weather to mock the reality of global warming.  His feeble, anti-scientific brain does not understand the difference between weather (the atmospheric conditions at a certain time in a given place) and climate (the long term trend).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Where Is Home?



Those of you who regularly read my blog know that 2017 was almost evenly split between my home outside of Cleveland and Mexico.  I am now renting an apartment in Mexico City, and I am spending almost every other month down there.  Some people have asked me if it wouldn't be easier to simply spend six months in one place and six months in the other instead of constantly flying back and forth.  However there is always something that requires my presence in Ohio... filing income taxes, yard and garden work, family celebrations, etc., etc.  In less than two weeks I will return to Mexico.  This time I will spend six weeks down there, and I will miss a large chunk of the winter.

I was born and raised in Ohio, and I have lived in the same house since I was three years old.  My roots are most definitely here, and the thought of pulling up stakes and simply moving permanently to Mexico seems a daunting and terrifying task.  But yet, as I think about returning to the apartment in Mexico City, I catch myself thinking as if I will be returning home.  I am looking forward to the familiar places and the routines that I have established down there.  Perhaps the blast of winter weather here in Ohio simply has me longing for the sunshine and spring-like temperatures of Mexico City.  But I have to ask myself, just where is home for me???

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Not-So-Great Showman

Going to see a movie is usually a standard part of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I had a wonderful time with family in Columbus at Christmas, but the film that we saw this year was not the highlight of the holiday.

We decided upon "The Greatest Showman", a musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum.  I was fine with that choice.  I like historical movies, I like the lead actor Hugh Jackman, and I generally like musicals.  The others in our group enjoyed the film, but I thought it was a dud.

(image from the web)

The movie was not popular with many of the critics.  For one thing they lambasted the movie for having only a tenuous relationship with historical fact.  Barnum is treated here as a benevolent empresario when in fact he was a conman, a huckster.  The main theme of the movie is that he treated the members of his "freak show"  with the dignity and respect that they deserved as human beings.  The film never mentions Barnum's first success in "show business".  During the pre-Civil War era, he purchased an elderly, blind, paralyzed slave woman. Barnum put her display ten to twelve hours each day, and claimed that she was the 161 year old nursemaid of George Washington.  He even exploited her in death when he sold tickets to a public autopsy of her body.  Nice guy! 

One of the most famous members of Barnum's show, "General Tom Thumb", the world's smallest man, is portrayed in the movie as a young adult who willingly joins the circus.  In fact "Tom Thumb" was a five year old child and was put on stage drinking wine and smoking cigars for the amusement of the audience.

Barnum sought to gain respectability by bringing the acclaimed Swedish soprano, Jenny Lind, to the United States.  The descendants of Miss Lind should sue the producers of this film for the way she is depicted.  She is shown as a temptress who quits the tour when she is unable to seduce the happily married Barnum.  In fact, she was a devout and shy woman who donated most of her earnings to the establishment of free, public schools in Sweden.  She quit the tour because she was uncomfortable with Barnum's marketing techniques. 

Besides the mess that the move makes of history, there is the music.  I didn't realize that the music was written by the pair that wrote last year's "Blah Blah Land"... I mean, "La La Land"... a ho-hum show filled with thoroughly forgettable songs.  "The Greatest Showman" has a number of big, razzmatazz song and dance numbers... but the music is still completely forgettable.  

One thing which the critics did not mention but which I found quite jarring is the fact that the songs for this story, which takes place in the 19th century, are all written in a contemporary pop music style.  The music that the songwriters put in the mouth of the operatic Jenny Lind is quite laughable.

I just hope that next year when the Oscars are awarded this lame movie doesn't steal the best song and best score awards from the far superior "Coco".  

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Somber Thoughts

I apologize to my readers for writing such a melancholy post at this festive time of year.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about my dear friend and teaching colleague, Jane, who passed away two years ago this month. 

Jane and I taught Spanish together for many years, and we shared many travel experiences.  Our trips together in Yucatán and Oaxaca are recorded on this blog.  In September of 2015 she was diagnosed with cancer, and before Christmas she was gone.

Yesterday I received the news that the younger sister of a good high school friend of mine is gravely ill.  I did not even know that she was sick, but she is now receiving hospice care.  I am going to pay her a short visit this afternoon.  I do not know her really well... we would see each other from time to time, usually when her brother was in town... but the news hit me hard.  It is another gut-wrenching reminder of our mortality and the fragility of life.

So, I would say to you, my readers, always value each day and treasure your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One More Time

I do not intend to imitate Alejandro's little nephew Ezra and go to the movie theater to see "Coco" over and over again.  (Alejandro finally saw the movie in Mexico last weekend, and his nephew accompanied him.  Ezra has now seen the movie seven times!)  However, yesterday I did go with a friend to see "Coco" a second time.

(Image taken from the web)

I enjoyed the movie just as much the second time around, and, yes, I once again cried at the ending.  (Alejandro admitted that he cried too.)  

While we were in the mall, I stopped in a music store and bought the soundtrack of "Coco". I love the music, although I prefer the Spanish version of the song "Remember Me" ("Recuérdame").  Here is a link to a YouTube video of it sung by well-known Mexican singer Carlos Rivera...


The movie is nearing the end of its eight week run in Mexico where it quickly became the all-time box office hit of the Mexican cinema.  Too bad.  If it had still been in the theaters when I return to Mexico in January, I would have gone a third time, just to see the Spanish version!  However, I suppose that the DVD will be out by that time, and I intend to buy it while I am down there.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I would assume that you have an interest in Mexico.  So I strongly recommend  that go out and see this beautiful movie, which has been described by some as "a love letter to Mexico".   And don't forget to bring some tissues.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Fudge Kitchen

It's that time of year when my kitchen is redolent with the smell of chocolate.  Every year at Christmas time I make fudge for friends, family and neighbors.  I have already made seven pans of my cherry fudge, and I have four more batches to make.

I do not have to take any fudge with me on my next trip to Mexico since I took a big box for Alejandro's family on my trip in October.  They carefully ration it out as if it were some precious treat, and they still have a good supply. There is no word in Spanish for fudge, so I simply refer to it as "chocolate".  Alejandro's little nephew Ezra is especially fond of my fudge, but it wasn't always that way.  A few years ago when I first brought them a box, Ezra tasted a piece and declared that it tasted like "rotten salmon".  I have no idea how he would know what rotten salmon tastes like, but I suspect that he was expecting the "chocolate" to be sweeter than it is.  In any event, it didn't take long for him to develop a taste for my fudge.

In the coming days I will be delivering many boxes of "rotten salmon" !

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Card 2017

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that each year I create my own Christmas cards.  It is something that I have been doing since I retired in 2004.  Each autumn I paint a small picture, usually based on a photo which I have taken during my travels.  I then scan the painting to my computer, and in October I print off my cards.  Since 2011, I have been traveling to Mexico each November.  I take the cards and a box of envelopes with me, and by the time I return home before Thanksgiving, the cards are all ready to send.  My friends all expect my card to be the first that they receive each season.

By this time everyone has received my card... even my cousins in Europe.  So I shall now unveil the 2017 card here on my blog.

The painting is entitled "Twilight in Tlalpujahua".  Tlalpujahua is a small town in the state of Michoacán which Alejandro and I visited earlier this year.  I took the original photo from a rooftop restaurant where we were having supper.  Not only is Tlalpujahua a beautiful, colonial town, but it is Mexico's number one producer of blown glass Christmas ornaments.  So, it seemed an obvious choice for this year's card.

Best wishes to all of my readers for a very joyous holiday season!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Weekend in Chicago

Each year in early December I take a short trip to Chicago to visit friends and to attend their annual Christmas party.

I left on Friday morning and, surprisingly, the flight was not very crowded.  I had the entire group of three seats to myself.  So I scooted over to the window seat before we began our descent, and I got some pictures of downtown Chicago.

The weather was chilly but sunny.  On Friday evening I treated my friends to dinner at their favorite Mexican restaurant located just a few blocks from their condo.  "Las Mañanitas is a cut above most "Mexican" restaurants in the U.S. (usually more "Tex-Mex" than authentically Mexican).  I had a very good dinner of potato enchiladas.

When we left the restaurant it had begun to snow.  By the next morning there was a light blanket of white on the ground.

In Cleveland there had been a light snowfall in November, but I was still in Mexico at that time.  So this was my first snow of the season.

The party on Saturday night was very nice.  It ended earlier than in previous years... perhaps an indication that we are all getting older!

I returned home on Monday evening.  By that time, the white stuff had melted.  However, shortly before boarding the plane back to Cleveland, it began to snow once again.  We sat in the plane for at least an hour while awaiting our turn for the plane to be de-iced. 

I finally arrived in Cleveland, later than scheduled.  There was no snow, but this morning I awoke to a wintry scene.  There isn't enough snow to bother with the snow blower... at least not yet.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Next Trip

I already have reservations for my next trip.  After the holidays are over I will return to Mexico, and I will stay down there for a good chunk of our winter... returning to Ohio in late February.  This trip is going to be a bit different however.  Instead of flying on Interjet Airlines to Mexico City, I am going to take United Airlines all the way to the city of Morelia.

(image taken from the web)

Morelia is the capital of the state of Michoacán and is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the country's colonial cities.  (In fact, I recently read an article on the internet... I can't remember where or provide a link... which included Morelia on a list of little-known cities with stunning architecture.)  I have never been there, although it has always been on my list of places to see.  So I will begin my next trip with three nights in that lovely city.  From Morelia I will take a bus to another place I have never seen, the town of Pátzcuaro.  Pátzcuaro is a smaller colonial town located about an hour from Morelia and near the shores of the lake of the same name.

(image taken from the web)

In addition to the picturesque town itself and the nearby lake, there are numerous villages famous for their handicrafts.  I will spend five nights in Pátzcuaro, and then take a bus from there to Mexico City. I will spend the remainder of my time in the condo that I have been renting there. 

There will be, however, a long weekend (Constitution Day on February 5th) during my time in Mexico City, and Alejandro and I are discussing where we are going to go for that weekend.  Perhaps we will go to one of the Monarch Butterfly Reserves in the mountains of Michoacán.  That is another place that has long been on my bucket list.  It is not an easy excursion.  It would include a long hike... or horseback ride... at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level.  We shall see. 

(image taken from the web)

The next trip is shaping up to include some interesting new sights!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Missing Virtues

During my recent trip to Mexico City, I showed you a picture of damage done to the Cathedral in the September earthquake.  Above the bell tower there were statues of the three virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity.  These were designed by Manuel Tolsá, the famous architect and sculptor who transformed the face of Mexico City during the late colonial period.  One of the three statues, that of Hope, had crashed to the ground during the earthquake.

I did not, however, show you, another photo which I took later in the trip.  To ensure that the remaining two statues will not face a similar fate, Faith and Charity had been carefully removed from the tower.

Those sculptures, I assume, will be placed in one of the city's many museums... perhaps the National Museum of Art. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Who Would Have Thought...?

Magazines are always coming out with lists... the best, the worst, etc., etc..  They are usually very subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt.  For example, earlier this year "Travel & Leisure Magazine" announced that San Miguel de Allende was the best place in the world.  San Miguel is a lovely town, but I would not say that it is the best town in Mexico, much less in the entire world!

Now "National Geographic Traveler Magazine" has come out with their list of the 21 best travel destinations in the world for 2018.  I would tend to place a bit more faith in National Geographic than Travel & Leisure, but I was shocked to see that my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, is on the list.  Yes, Cleveland, that "rust belt" city that used to be called "the Mistake on the Lake".

Now, don't get me wrong.  If you have read my blog for very long, you know that I have often sung the praises of Cleveland, but I never expected it to be listed as one of the "must-see" destinations in the world.

Cleveland was listed as one of seven cities chosen for their cultural attractions.  I must say that, except for Vienna, Austria, and Oaxaca, Mexico, the choices of culture destinations were pretty much off the radar of the typical tourist.  The others were Friesland, Netherlands; Harar, Ethiopia; Labrador, Canada; and Tetouan, Morocco.

So what does Cleveland have to offer?  As I have written many times before, our orchestra is not only one of the best orchestras in the country...  it is one of the best in the WORLD!  Our art museum is not as large as the Louvre or the Metropolitan, but it is praised for its quality and for its comprehensiveness.  Here the entire history of art is on display from ancient Egypt to the 21st century.  The University Circle neighborhood boasts the highest concentration of cultural and educational institutions of anywhere in the U.S.  Our Playhouse Square is the largest performing arts complex in the U.S. outside of New York City.  I have heard often that travelers to Cleveland are surprised and impressed with our city.

The magazine article states, "Onion-domed churches and cold-brew cafes on streets a-flicker with gas porch lights might summon images of Krakow or Budapest. But this is Cleveland. The big-boned Ohio city built by Eastern European immigrants and Midwestern moxie ripples with new cultural energy."

I am not sure that I agree that my city is one of the top destinations in the world, but it is nice to have bragging rights, and to be able to say "touché" to all those who have been putting Cleveland down for so many years.

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Finally Saw It

(image taken from the web)

Disney / Pixar's "Coco" has in less than a month become Mexico's biggest box-office hit ever.  (Alejandro's little nephew has already seen it three times!)  Yet during my stay down there I did not have an opportunity to see it.  While I was in Columbus visiting family for the holiday, we helped make "Coco" the top movie of the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.  I finally saw it, and I was not disappointed.

It is a warm, tender movie that treats the culture of Mexico and the traditions of the Day of the Dead with great respect.  Young Miguel lives with his close-knit family in a small Mexican town.  It is Miguel's dream to be a great musician, but his family absolutely forbids music.  On the eve of the Day of the Dead, Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he encounters his departed ancestors.  He unravels the mystery of his family's prohibition of music, and, I must say, the ending was a complete surprise to me.  The movie is a tear-jerker... but the tears are happy tears.  

Visually the movie is beautiful... especially the colorful, fantastical World of the Dead.

I am not a big fan of animated movies, but "Coco" is a winner!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Lantern Festival

While I was in Columbus for the Thanksgiving holiday, I visited along with my sister-in-law and nephew the Columbus Chinese Lantern Festival.  This event which will run through the holiday season is held at the state fairgrounds.  There are 39 large illuminated displays made by Chinese artisans from the city of Zigong, China, the center for the making of paper lanterns.

There were also performances by Chinese acrobats and dancers, and Chinese handicrafts for sale.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Home for the Holidays

Yesterday I flew home from Mexico.  As usual, my flight from Mexico City to Chicago on Interjet Airlines was very comfortable.  And the United flight from Chicago to Cleveland was cramped with every seat on the plane taken.   Fortunately that flight is less than an hour in duration.

I will be home for the holiday season, but I already have my plane reservations to return in January.  Since Interjet was offering special deals during the "Buen Fin" weekend (Mexico's equivalent of Black Friday) I went ahead and booked my reservations online before I left.

Tomorrow I will drive down to Columbus, Ohio, to spend a few days with family for Thanksgiving.

I hope that all my readers in the U.S. have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Movie I Didn't Get to See

Usually when I am down here in Mexico City, Alejandro and I go once or twice to the movie theater.  This time, however, we never got around to it, even though there was a movie that we both wanted to see.

I am not a really big fan of animated movies, but I do want to see Disney's latest film, "Coco".  It takes place in Mexico and revolves around the Day of the Dead celebrations.  It will not open in the United States until November 22nd, but here in Mexico it had its premiere the weekend before the Day of the Dead.  The film has already broken box office records in Mexico with more than 16 million tickets sold.

However, when plans were originally made to produce the film, there was an enormous backlash from Mexicans and the Mexican community in the U.S.  Disney had applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for rights to the phrase "Day of the Dead" for its merchandising of the movie.  How do you get an exclusive trademark for the name of a holiday?!  Disney relented, and renamed the movie "Coco", the name of the main character. 

The film crew visited Mexico five times to study settings for the film and to study the Day of the Dead traditions.  The skeleton characters in the movie are references to famous Mexican actors and singers of the past such as María Félix, Cantinflás, Jorge Negrete, and Dolores del Río... references that will be lost upon the gringo audience, but which will be immediately recognized by Mexican viewers.

Well, I guess that I will have to see the movie back home in the U.S.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giving In to "El Buen Fin"

Back home I would never, ever venture out to go shopping on Black Friday.  I wrote in my previous post that this is the "Buen Fin", Mexico's weekend-long equivalent to Black Friday... and I succumbed to the shopping urge.

It all started this morning when Alejandro and I went out for breakfast at VIPS.  At a nearby table there was an older gentleman wearing a very snazzy sweater with the emblem of UNAM (the National University of Mexico).  I told Alejandro that I really liked the sweater, and I wondered if they sell them at the university.  Alejandro said that they probably do.  We had been trying to decide what to do today since, between the holiday weekend and the biggest shopping event of the year, traffic was going to be even more horrendous than usual.  We decided to take the Metrobus down to the UNAM campus and check out the university store.

From the Metrobus stop it was a good hike across the campus.  We finally arrived at the UNAM Store, and if was not what I was expecting.

This was nothing like the typical college bookstore that also sells college souvenirs.  This was a store like Walmart  or Target selling groceries, clothing, housewares and electronics.  It caters to the faculty and student body (who probably get a discount year-round), but it is open to the general public.  I didn't think that I was going to find what I wanted, but in the men's clothing department, there was a large selection of UNAM apparel.

I bought my sweater and several other items as gifts.  Surprisingly, this store was also participating in the "Buen Fin", and I got a 40% discount on my sweater!


The "End" Is Here!

On Friday I went downtown, and the streets were even busier than usual for a weekday.

Not only was a long holiday weekend about to begin (Monday is Revolution Day), but it was the first day of the "Buen Fin"... the Good (Week)End... when the Christmas shopping season begins with special sales.  Later on the news I saw coverage of crowds of people waiting for the stores to open that morning.  It was very reminiscent of Black Friday in the U.S.

All along Madero Street the stores had signs advertising their "Buen Fin" sales.

You could even buy this dancing, singing (in English) Santa Claus for only 5,445 pesos ($286 U.S.), discounted from 8,168 pesos!

Errands to Do Before I Leave

Sadly this trip to Mexico City is drawing to a close.  On Monday I return to Ohio.  If it weren't for the fact that there are things that need to be done back home, appointments to be kept, and friends and family to see, I would just as soon stay here.

Thursday I took care of some errands before I leave.  First I went to the "papelería"... stationery store... around the corner from the apartment.  (Do we even have stationery stores any more in the U.S.?) 

I have a Christmas present to leave here for Alejandro's little nephew, and I wanted to get it wrapped.  "Papelerías" down here will do gift wrapping, and for 35 pesos (less than $2) the lady did a very nice job.  Surpisingly she didn't have any Christmas paper, but it looked very "Christmassy" with red metallic paper and a green bow.

My next stop was at a coffee stop down the street... not Starbucks, but a Mexican chain called "Cielito Querido".   It is becoming quite popular down here, and seems to be giving Starbucks some competition.

The signs say, "Coffee helps the one who gets up early",
and "I'm going to take away your sleepiness".

My purpose in coming here was not to have a caffeine fix, but to buy one more gift to take home.  My friend who house sits for me while I am gone is a coffee drinker.  On my last trip down here I bought him a bag of Mexican coffee, and he really liked it.  I told him I would buy him some more, so I'm not spoiling a surprise if he reads this.

Later in the day I made a trip to Woolworths.  I found another store along Line 2 of the Metrobus that I like better than the one I have previously visited.  My reason for going there was not to buy stuff for myself...  OK, there were some things I could not resist.  I found a really nice polo shirt for $7 U.S., a turtle neck shirt for $4 and a couple of soccer shirts.  I also found a birthday present for Alejandro's dad's 80th birthday in January.  He's a fan of the soccer team "Club América", and I bought him a team shirt and hoodie.  Everything was made in Mexico too.

But my primary reason for going there was to get some stuff to donate to the collection center for earthquake victims.  When I was there earlier this trip, the lady said that they have had plenty of donations of used clothing, but that they needed underwear since that had to be new.  So I bought ten packages of men's underpants.  I hopped on the Metrobus again, and took them to the collection center.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another Long Walk

Once again I must thank Scott, the author of the blog "Gringopotpourri".  He wrote about a pedestrian / bicycle path that follows the old railway tracks heading toward Cuernavaca.  On Wednesday I followed the route that he described in his blog.

I took the subway to the San Joaquín station, and went a couple blocks to the Grupo Modelo brewery (the manufacturers of Corona beer, as well as numerous other Mexican labels).  This was going to be my starting point.

You can see the path next to the old rail tracks.  This photo is looking in the opposite direction from which I was going to walk.  The path extends in that way beyond the brewery for some distance, but for some reason it was closed off.

The first part of my route passed through a neighborhood that was not particularly attractive although it not feel dangerous.  There was however a great deal of litter and graffiti along this section of the path.

I have no idea what the deal is with these shoes strung across the electric lines, but there were dozens of pairs along this first part of my walk.

Before very long I enter the area known as Nuevo Polanco (New Polanco) with its new office and apartment towers.

Polanco is one of Mexico City's most affluent neighborhoods, but just to the north of it was a largely industrial area.  In recent years that area has had a radical redevelopment as an upscale center for business, shopping, and culture, It also has over 24,000 housing units.  There are also plans for the U.S. Embassy to move to this neighborhood.

The heart of Nuevo Polanco is Plaza Carso, a development owned by multibillionaire Carlos Slim.  It was built on the former site of a tire factory.  The centerpiece of Plaza Carso is the Soumaya Museum, which houses Slim's art collection.

The striking building was designed by Slim's son-in-law Fernando Romero.  It is covered with 16,000 aluminum tiles.

The museum is free to the public, and contains an eclectic collection which includes Old Masters, Mexican art, and sculptures by Rodin.  I visited it several years ago, and enjoyed it.  The museum however has its critics.  Some have said that it is a collection of second-rate art by first-rate artists.

Plaza Carso also contains the Jumex Museum, a contemporary art museum owned by the Mexican juice company.

I have also visited that museum and found it a ridiculous and pretentious assemblage of what passes for "art" these days.  I do, however, regret having missed the Andy Warhol exhibit that was there earlier this year.

Next to the Soumaya Museum is the underground Telcel Theater.  (Telcel is a Mexican telecommunications company owned by Slim.)

A couple years ago, Alejandro and I saw a Spanish-language production of "Wicked" there.  Currently "El Rey León" (The Lion King) is playing there.

There is also a ritzy shopping mall which includes a "Sak's Fifth Avenue".

Across the street from the Soumaya Museum is the newest attraction (which I visited earlier this year), the Imbursa Aquarium.  (Imbursa is an insurance company owned by... guess who... Carlos Slim.)

I continue down the path, leaving Plaza Carso behind me.

This flour mill, complete with grain silos, is a remnant of the industrial past of this neighborhood.

Crossing over from Nuevo Polanco to Polanco there is another shopping mall, this one anchored by Sears.  As I have mentioned before, Sears in Mexico is a much more upscale store than in the U.S.  And unlike its counterpart north of the border, it seems to be doing fine.  And Sears-Mexico is owned by, yes, Carlos Slim.

Next door to the mall is the Ferrari dealership.  I read that you have to make an appointment to go inside.

This kosher delicatessen is testimony to the fact that Polanco is the center of Mexico City's Jewish community.

The path crosses and goes under a tangle of major thoroughfares.

Once I have passed that traffic nightmare, I have entered the neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec, which is arguably even ritzier than Polanco.

The landscaping along this stretch of the path is impeccably manicured and free of litter.  The nearby businesses have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the gardens.

The signs make it explicitly clear that canine doo-doo is a no-no.

Whenever I am in a neighborhood such as this, I think of the ignorant people who think of Mexico as a backward hellhole, and I want to laugh in their faces.

The path ascends to become a bridge...

...in order to avoid another jumble of streets and freeways.  In the center of it all is the monument to the "petroleros", the petroleum workers.  

But since the view of the monument is not very good from the pedestrian bridge, I go down to street level, brave the traffic, and take a better photo.

 Next I come to a very striking office building called the "Torre Virrey" (Viceroy Tower).

At the base of the tower is a Starbucks.  I am not a big fan of Starbucks, but they do come in handy.  I went inside, ordered a smoothie, took a break from walking, and used the restroom (my main reason for stopping there).

The place was crowded with business people, both Mexican and foreign.

I come to another pedestrian bridge, and looking back I have a better view of the Torre Virrey's distinctive shape.

This bridge also takes me into the second section of Mexico City's vast Chapultepec Park.

I am approaching the end of my walk.  I want get on the subway at the Constituyentes station which is not far from this part of the park.

I pass by the amusement park, "La Feria de Chapultepec".

I am expecting an exit from the path to take me to the subway stop, but now I have passed Chapultepec Park completely and I am hemmed in on either side roads and freeways.  (I later find out from Alejandro that this path goes on and on for miles and miles.  He doesn't know if it actually goes all the way to Cuernavaca, but it does follow the old train route all the way up into the mountain forests to the south of the city.  It passes through some rough neighborhoods, however, so he doesn't recommend that I return to do more of the path.)

At last I come to a bridge that takes me up and over the traffic.

At this point I am not quite sure where I am, but I manage to find my way to the subway station without even asking directions from passersby.

It was a very enjoyable walk, and it wasn't as strenuous as I thought it might be.