Superficial Thoughts on Mexico City
Well I'm back in the USA. And glad for it too, in the good to come home sense. Quite apart from any socio-politico-economic advantages one's home might have, there's always the land and the people that welcomes one home in a way that makes ideology secondary. It reminded me of how I felt on my 1999 cross-country road trip. Me and my buddy drove up to Chicago, over to Washington state, down to San Diego and back to Atlanta, with lots of stops and side-trips along the route. Neither of us had been west of the Mississippi before, so the geography and accents we encountered during the trip were strange to us, known only as distorted by TV or movies. Toward the end, at some point halfway through Alabama, something in the contours of the hills, the shapes and colors of the trees, and the drawl of the locals clicked, and we knew we were nearly home. The road signs telling us so were superfluous.
But that's not about Mexico.
Mexico City, as I mentioned in the previous post, is huge. My first impression, from the airplane window as the plane approached Juarez International, was that Mexico City is an unimaginably large place. Having been born and raised in Brooklyn (before I moved to Atlanta), I was used to social density. Brooklyn is 2 million people crammed into apartments and row houses and brownstones- pretty dense. But Mexico City was apartment complex after apartment complex- project after project, in the American vernacular- extending block after block, mile after mile, for many more miles than in NYC. And that's just in the 'burbs on the way to the airport. 20 million people live in the Mexico City metro area.
The Mexicans I talked to, when the subject came up, agreed that there were too many people in Mexico City. They have restictions on what days you can drive your car based on the last digit of your license plate, for instance. Mexico City is built on a dry lake bed valley plateau type dealy, surrounded by higher mountain peaks, so it faces similar sprawl-inhibiting factors as Manhattan island. That, and the city's economic primacy within Mexico, accounts for the huge population.
I hadn't realized that Mexico City was so high, 7000 ft, until just before I went (and so much for high school geography- or at least what I remember of it). Temps didn't rise to 80F the whole time I was there. That's in August. According to residents, last week was a bit cooler than usual, but not by a whole lot. I was vaguely expecting malarial conditions, but was very pleasantly surprised. Summers in Atlanta and New York are far worse.
So there are my superficial geographic and climactic impressions of Mexico City. I'll have to think about the deeper cultural type stuff before I post about them.