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Mexico City


The first time I visited Mexico City, I felt overwhelmed.  The population is somewhere between twenty to thirty million and traffic jams can stretch on for miles.   Upon subsequent visits, I began to discover the many charms of the city.  Some people say it has more museums than any other city in the world including New York or London.  A few of the highlights are the Popular Art Museum which features colorful handcrafts and folk art from around the country and the Soumaya Museum which highlights the art collection of Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim.  There are multiple traditional markets around the city including San Juan Market where you can sample edible insects or more mainstream Mexican fare like tacos and tamales.  Every first time visitor should check out Chapultepec Park which is Mexico City’s version of Central Park.  It features the best zoo I have ever visited, an amusement park, and multiple museums.  

Before a visit to any world capital, it is helpful to read books about the city that go beyond just travel guides.   I have a couple of favorites.   First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century by David Lida provides a balanced overview of the city.  He does not shy away from highlighting the problems of the metropolis.  He also captures the energy and vitality of the place.  It is well-researched and has the viewpoint of someone who has lived and worked in the city. 

Another excellent book with Mexico City as the backdrop is The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle by Francisco Goldman.  The author documents the grief he feels for the death of his wife who passed away in a bodysurfing accident.  Goldman tries to deal with the grief by diverting himself with driving lessons in Mexico City.   The chaotic streets of Mexico City also serve as a metaphor for the author’s turbulent emotions.     Beyond the story of inner angst, Goldman provides a vivid description of life in the booming metropolis.   He also examines the sometimes difficult social and political situations of the city.

One of the best ways to get to know a city or country is to read authors from the country.   The Ottawa Public Library features the works of a number of prominent Mexican authors including Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes and   Elena Poniatowska. 

One final way to learn about Mexico City and Mexico is to borrow a video or stream via the Ottawa Public Library’s website.   There is also a sizable collection in Spanish if you want to perfect your language skills or speak Spanish as a first language.

Hasta luego et buen viaje!   


Image: First Stop in the New World

First Stop in the New World

Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century
By Lida, David
Image: The Interior Circuit

The Interior Circuit

A Mexico City Chronicle
By Goldman, Francisco

The Labyrinth of Solitude

Life and Thought in Mexico
By Paz, Octavio