Monday, December 22, 2008

Location : Mexico City

Mexico City

Dave and I flew to Mexico from New York for a two week holiday this morning. Wandering through Brooklyn at 4am this morning it was -7 degrees celsius. A few hours later arriving in Cancun and waiting for my connecting flight to Mexico city, the sun shining and people lounging around with short sleeve shirts and tans it occurred to me that I have very little idea about Mexico apart from what I have seen in a few movies, stories about the drug trade and border crossings, a warning about green taxis and the architect Luis Barragan.

Mexico City is the third largest metropolis in the world, an enormous sprawling city that used to be a series of lakes. Mexico city has a population of 8,836,045 (2008) and Greater Mexico City an estimated population of 19,826,918 (2008). The speed at which Mexico City has grown, the resulting urbanism and the problems that the population explosion has created is remarkable. The population in 1900 was approximately 500,000 and between 1960 and 1980 doubled to 8.8 million many of whom were villagers who created massive shantytowns creating intense air and water pollution and problems with crime and poverty.

Flying into Mexico City in the late afternoon the scale of the city was overwhelming. The city seemed to extend in all directions as far as the horizon shrouded in a brown haze of pollution that was catching the setting sun. The impact of human settlement seen from the plane was at once disturbing and fascinating.

Arriving at the airport, like arriving in the biggest Metropolises of the world, the intensity of the city was immediate. Thousands of people rushing around in all directions through the airport and then down into the subway and onto the train, people selling mix cd's providing an eclectic soundtrack. As the subway train rolled past the crumbling apartments buildings I still had little idea what to expect in the coming days or how to approach a city of this size.

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