Saturday, 5 March 2011

63. Bikeless in the Big Smoke

We had planned to come in to Mexico city to visit my old flatmate, Hans, and his wife, Marianne, for a long weekend that has turned into ten great days. Rather than pedal into the city, we left our bikes with Hans´ friend Ernesto in Cuernavaca and got a lift with Hans into the world´s third largest metropolitan area (after Tokyo and Seoul). The Valley of Mexico has been the region´s chief urban centre since the pre-Hispanic period and the Aztec city of Gran Tenochititlan boasted over 150,000 inhabitants at its height. The city became the capital of New Spain in the colonial period and by 1900 Mexico city had half a million residents. Through the 20th century the city expanded dramatically as people attempted to escape rural poverty, only to find dreams of urban prosperity were reserved for the few. Today the greater metropolitan area is home for over 21 million people, almost one fifth of the country's total population and the largest in the western hemisphere. It´s big and it´s smokey.

Swapping our bicycles for Mexico´s metro, we're able to explore some of the city's markets and museums, find some new reading material, gatecrash a birthday party, as well as catch up on long-lost episodes of Dr. House and enjoy the use of a life-size cooker and more than two miniature saucepans. Unfortunately Ellie´s eagerly anticipated new Brooks saddle that was sent from England is still floating around somewhere in the Mexican postal system, so we'll have to hope it catches us up as we head north.

Aztec Stone of the Sun, Museum of Anthropology

A Diego Rivera mural in the Palacio Belles Artes

At the Frida Kahlo museum in the Casa Azul

Mexico City, Mexico
Trip distance: 41,761 km

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