I fell in love with Mexico pretty much the first time I came to visit ‘C’ almost two years ago! I don’t know if I initially fell in love with it because of the country itself, or rather because the man I was in love with lived here and it represented an unknown future– but now that I have been living here for over a year, I can say without a doubt that I love it because of the country that it is.
When I talk to my friends back in Europe and Asia, they always ask me what is it like living in Mexico? Aren’t I scared due to all the violence? How do I cope living in one of the world’s largest and most dangerous cities?
Of course my friends and family’s concern and worries are warranted. Unfortunately every piece of news that hits the international headlines regarding Mexico, is one of violence, narco wars, the gangster underworld, mass killings and beheadings, drug smuggling and weapon trafficking – I mean, who wouldn’t be worried?
But although, yes, these atrocities do happen – they mostly occur in the north of the country, in the states boarding the United States and the violence is mainly directed between gangs. This is not say, that foreigners and innocent people do not get caught up in the violence, but it is my impression that they tend to get caught up in the cross-fire rather than being direct targets. Here in Mexico City, or D.F as we all call it, I feel that the threats against you are the same as they would be in any big city, and you just have to be extra vigilant and observant of your surroundings and really use a lot of common sense.
However, what never seems to be represented in the international headlines, are the positive aspects of Mexico. The friendly people, the vibrant atmosphere, the trendy dining scene, the strong cafe culture or the bohemian and artsy neighbourhoods you find dotted around the city. Of course, these are not true representations of Mexico as a whole, but neither are all the negative images.
Hence, I wanted to leave you with a positive image for a change – an image of an ordinary day at the park!
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday is take a stroll down to Parque Lincoln with ‘C’. Parque Lincoln is a lovely little park, a stone’s throw away from our apartment, and where we go quite often when we don’t have anything else planned and want to get out of the apartment. If it’s a sunny day, which it usually is, we buy an ice cream and meander around the park while watch all the hustle and bustle.
The park is always filed with life, and makes for some excellent people watching: families out walking, children playing, people chatting, dogs running around, couples sitting on benches holding hands – it’s just something that I never expected to see in the middle of Mexico City, before I moved here.
Every Saturday a market is erected selling everything you could possibly think of: clothes, make-up, household items, pet items, fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, sweets, pirated CDs and DVDs, plants, knick-knacks, you name it – and it is there! I even managed to pick up some funky sunglasses for 70 pesos which, surprisingly C picked out for me…I’m telling you, this man has great taste :)
When I first moved to D.F, I did have grand ideas about doing all my food shopping here. I liked the thought of buying ‘locally’ and giving back directly to the people, however I soon found out, that the people who sell these products don’t actually grow them themselves, and there is a bit of a syndicate (code name for mafia) that runs the market. Also the mark-up is quite high, and as I found out, its even higher if your blonde! So now, I am content to browse around and if I see something particularly appealing I will shell out the little bit extra – but usually I am just happy to walk around and absorb all the colours and smells that are going on around me.
On Saturday I saw something that really touched me. And it was this:
A few minutes early, I had seen the same man wheel from person to person asking for donations for the handicapped basket ball association, and here he was handing out some of his donations to this old beggar couple. It really made me stop and think about the genorosity of the people here and the enormous hearts that they have, it also put me slightly to shame as I very seldom give money to the beggars around me, yet what is a few pesos to me?
There is so much more to Mexico than what people read and hear in the news, and I just wanted to share with you the good that is going on here too, the peaceful every day living. It’s not just a country of gang warfare and violence, but it is also a country where you can spend a wonderful afternoon at the park.