Hear author Michael Parfit.
Click for Mexico City Region map.
WE FLY TO MEXICO CITY, capital and center of Mexico, and one of the
worlds largest metropolises.
Even from the air Mexico City looks exuberant,
Parfit said. You read about it being an incredible disaster area, but
it looks like an exuberant disaster area.
The place is just packed with people, and all of a
sudden you see from the air what looks like a bloom of poinsettias blocking
the street . . . and later you find out its a market; everybody has a
bright red-pink awning for his market stall. People are selling things
at every street corner.
The sense I had on the ground was that you could
probably drive the rest of your life and never get out of town. The sense
I had in the air was quite different, because Mexico City has geographic
boundaries. It has volcanoes right on the edge of town, big mountain
ridges that hem it in.
And the smog is really different here. It billows.
Its like the place is smoking, vigorously. In Los Angeles the smog just
sits there; in Mexico City theyre cooking it up.
You get the sense that this is a city built on a
shaky physical location on the planet, and that the city is simmering and
burbling. A volcano is erupting over there? Doesnt really matter. Volcanoes
erupt, earthquakes destroy towns, politics go crazy, people are gunned down.
This is all normal life for Mexico. And at the same time people are having
fiestas in the street and putting up their poinsettia markets. There is
a willingness to work and an urgency here thats a part of the drive
that Mexico City represented to me.
WE LAND in the middle of this urban brew. Click below for photo
stories about the urban well-to-do, who also must deal with the
economic crunch, about a family of street clowns, or about air pollution.