Day One: Ciclovia and First Impressions

Every time I fly, it seems to get a little worse. Last summer after our experimentation with long distance Amtrak we decided that we were going to use the train from then on for every possible trip… and if I absolutely had to fly, I resolved to create within myself a zen-like state of inner calm.

Last night almost broke me.

It began with a delayed flight, followed with one of those times when they get you all on the plane and then you sit there for hour before they even move from the gate and moved from there to seating me next to a young marine who went from bragging about his weapon to puking on my shoes. Awesome. Once we finally made it to JFK, Delta gave me the wrong terminal info for my transfer, so I literally had to run through the airport with no shoes on to be the last person on the Mexicana Flight 3… which then proceeded to show Beverley Hills Chihuahua as the in flight entertainment…

Wow. The saving grace was reading the first two books of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, which I highly recommend.

Anyways, I finally made it and am adjusting to life in the DF. My friend Pablo had suggested several walks through neighborhoods to get a feel for the context of Mexico City, so I spent most of my day just walking, though I did take a break to sit through part of a service at the Cathedral this morning. It says something about my christian-high-school Spanish that I can understand 90% of a sermon but ordering food is challenging.

The newest mayor here, Marcelo Ebrard, is something of a bike enthusiast and he’s imported Ciclovia from Bogotá (if you don’t know what that is, watch this video on Columbia’s). I had a really good time participating in that today. I didn’t find the place where they had the free bikes until all they had left were kids bikes, but I walked a couple miles of the route. I’ll try to get there earlier next week to get a bike.

And I made my first visit to one of my sites: Av. Presidente Masaryk. When I do site visits, I like to do my first one without taking any notes or pictures, but rather just walking to get a sense of the place. I’m going to continue to reserve judgment for now until I’ve seen the second site and the properties that the foundation controls (I’m getting a tour tomorrow).

I took a lot of pictures from Ciclovia today, but unfortunately, Flickr is being buggy, so I don’t think I’m going to get them up tonight.

Overall first impressions:

The city has a lot of really interesting streetscapes. I started doing a bunch of sections in my journal to play around with when I get back. All of the streets are very individual in their layout and there are some fantastic boulevards. Oh! And I have to mention the amazing street furniture… not so much benches as sculptures to sit on. I have many unuploadable pictures of those as well.

It doesn’t feel like a city of 19 million. It’s relatively low rise (though I think some of the outer neighborhoods have a little higher densities) and there are a lot of nice, popular open spaces. Overall, I’d say it handles its size well (other then in its transportation systems, but that’s a post for later). It’s certainly not like going to Hong Kong or even Manhattan for the first time.

There is a ton of variety in the neighborhoods. I walked through places that made me think of Rome, Berlin, Phnom Penh, ect. all within a few blocks of each other.

The Metro is awesome. Unless I’m mistaken they are the same trains as Paris and Montréal, with the rubber tires. They also do this cool thing here where each station has it’s own logo. So you don’t have to remember names like Coyocán and Tacubaya… you can just remember that you get on at the pen, transfer at the grenade (or maybe it’s a water bucket) and get off at the fountain. Also, wicked cheep. I think I got 5 ride tickets for 10 Pesos (75 cents).

And of course the food and weather are great. But I won’t brag…

Sorry again for the lack of pictures... hopefully I'll have more luck later in the week.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP