As we leave Mexico City we’re feeling officially like we’re getting into this trip. To be honest it’s been quite a haze of jetlag and aforementioned chilli induced shit-a-thon. But the question is…
Does Mexico City get the thumbs up?
The answer is simply a big yes! In planning this trip we quite consciously avoided the western world. Ticking that box, Mexico City also allowed a degree of relative comfort in getting into this new lifestyle. Having all the creature comforts you might need bar the hurdle of language, which isn’t really a hurdle at all, it’s a gentle introduction into a new culture. It’s worth saying again, the food is astounding, we expected good food from Mexico but this is just outrageous. The metro system is fantastic and the history is mind blowing. yes Mexico has already delivered in spades.
One observation is that Mexico City is a bit of a clash between being a heaving metropolis (approx 22 million) and a very culturally true town. Mexico City has little polish and glam, appearances are often more gritty, raw and functional. With a population that lives on the streets, Mexico City avoids the western trappings of iconic desire, the grace of Mexico City lies beneath the surface. We noticed that there were next to no tourists around, maybe this raw edge pushes them to other towns, who knows, but this city puts on a show all of its own, if you can’t see it, maybe it’s more a reflection on you.
What’s the most lasting impression to take from Mexico City?
Perhaps the most notable observation here is the the apparent attitude of the population. There seems to be an all pervading lack of narcissism, with a resulting friendliness, eagerness to help and courtesy which is quite a breath of fresh air. We see very few western food outlets or indeed any retail chains at all. There’s a lack of brand name fashion and showing off possessions seems to be non existent. Is it a tie in to the socialist leanings of prominent artists like Rivera and Kahlo, or is it that the cultural foundations are so old and rich that they’re less corruptible? Who knows really, definitely a three day tourist doesn’t know why but the thought is interesting. Mexico shares a border with the US yet seems to wholly reject the commercial culture of its biggest neighbour. How does arguably the greatest global cultural influence in recent decades get little traction right next door?
So Mexico City is a heaving mass of national pride and culture, staring western pretence in the face and sticking true to itself. It’s a messy, vibrant, fast paced statement on staying true to a culture, something these wannabe latte hippies find completely addictive. Just when you think that McDonalds, Coke and Starbucks are going to make the entire planet fat, here’s one of the worlds biggest cities showing the world that “commercial reality” as we like to call it doesn’t have to be the only means toward social decision making. So hats off to you Mexicans, these beardless hipsters gives you the big thumbs up.