Sunday, December 30, 2018

Prosperity and Power

We generally take a family trip at the end of the year and this year we decided to spend time in Mexico City.  Last year, we managed to choose New York City just in time for the arctic air blast that made Times Square colder than a meat locker.

The weather in Mexico City or DF (DeEffy) as they call it,  is pretty much perfect during the holidays.  Every day was like LA; cool in the evenings and not hot during the day.  (middle 70s)  And during the holidays, Mexico City's pollution is greatly diminished which is important, because there's 20 something million people in the greater DF area.

Here is the blurb on the city:

Mexico City is the densely populated, high-altitude capital of Mexico. It's known for its Templo Mayor (a 13th-century Aztec temple), the baroque Catedral Metropolitana de México of the Spanish conquistadors and the Palacio Nacional, which houses historic murals by Diego Rivera. All of these are situated in and around the Plaza de la Constitución, the massive main square also known as the Zócalo.

Today, the city, now abbreviated as CDMX, is the most populous city in North America and is one of the most important cultural and financial centres in the Americas.[15] It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus in the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft). The city has 16 boroughs.  (wikipedia)

We stayed in a swanky Mexico Hotel on the Paseo de la Reforma, the main street of Mexico.  The Reforma is a grand European style street with 10 lanes of traffic, bicycle lanes, and shaded pedestrian walkways that goes from the center of the city from the huge (larger than Central Park) Chapultepec Park to the historic   Zocolo out to the NE part of town.  It's about 10 miles long.

It is lined with 50 to 70 story towers on its west side close to the park where we stayed.  From our room, we could see the Fountain of the Archer Goddess Diana and the huge Angel of the Independence monument a few blocks away.  Like in Paris, the street is manicured and covered in flowers and groundcover.  It's not the Champs-Elysees, but it's quite impressive.

And it's more than a little odd to come back from this sophisticated foodie city to  our American national conversation about building a wall to protect ourselves from a culture that has thousands of years of history.  Mexico City dwellers must find that conversation deeply disturbing if not a bit culturally insane.

No visit to CDMX is complete without a day in the park.  The anthropology museum is splendid and the 2  art museums are worth it.

It is the most visited museum in Mexico. Located in the area between Paseo de la Reforma and Mahatma Gandhi Street within Chapultepec Park, it contains significant archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage, such as the Stone of the Sun (or the Aztec calendar stone) and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.

One thing I got from this trip is that the calendar stone is not a calendar, it is a sacrificial altar where human hearts were cut out to appease the gods.

I also got a sense of their history and how they moved from agriculture to a war society.  It was this society that the Conquistadors first encountered.  They were not helpless farmers, they were sophisticated overlords of a civilization with roots as old as the Egyptians.

Like all conquerors, the Europeans built their temple right on top of the Templo Mayor, the pyramid temple in the very center of the original city that was built on an island in the original lake that existed in this valley.

Watching the feathered dancers and shamans in the square around the European Cathedral, it's hard not to imagine that they consider this time of the Europeans to just be a 500 year old blip in their 3 thousand year history.

The two smaller temples at the top of the Templo Mayor were dedicated to the God of Rain and the God of War.  Prosperity and Power were their Gods...

Much like their dangerous neighbors to the north.

Perhaps they should build that Wall.

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