Independence day….the Aftermath!

How was your Independence Day? What did you do to celebrate?

I went with my partner to his family’s home in Azcapotzalco. We went to the fair that was set up around the Town hall and the market, ate a little too much food, drank a little too much beer and then went and had more food and beer with his family. All in all it was a great night!

Here are some pictures I took…before I became too tipsy on the beer.

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Coyoacán in pictures

Gallery

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Here’s a few of pictures I’ve taken during my many visits to Coyoacán. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

We’re number 1!!!!!

….but not for anything worth celebrating.

One of Mexico City’s worst reputations is in regards to its traffic. We’re talking INTERNATIONALLY known and recognized as having the most horrible, stressful and nerve shattering daily congestion on the streets.

This week we were officially recognized for this…dare I say achievement.

IBM’s “2001 Commuter Pain Index” polled drivers from all over the world to see whose daily commute was the most soul crushing, based on the following factors and indicators:

1) Commuting time
2) Time stuck in traffic
3) Price of gas
4) Traffic is getting worse
5) Start/stop traffic
6) Driving causes stress
7) Driving causes anger
8 ) Traffic affects work
9) Traffic so bad driving stopped
10) Decided not to make trip due to traffic.

I live here and see the traffic on a daily basis, I’ve even driven in it on occasion. But what is shocking to me is that it is worse here than in Shanghai or New York. To take first place distinction from every other internationally recognized traffic “hell on earth”; maybe it’s time that we as residents and the government of Mexico City start trying to come up with solutions.

The question of how to prevent grid-lock remains, and according to IBM the solution lays in data. With the use of GPS and road sensors, data can be collected and traffic therefore organized more effectively. Of course this may mean staying at work 20 minutes later or leaving 15 minutes earlier, but the pay off would be the fact that traffic flows smother and less delay in getting from point A to point B.

Does data gathering seem like the most viable option to you? What would you be willing to give up or change in order to improve bad traffic in your city?

Happy Birthday To Me

*It’s been ten days since my last post (sorry). So what better excuse to get writing than to talk about what I’ve done to celebrate so far.*

I always have had bad luck on my birthday. Since as far back as my memory stretches August 29th has been cursed. Someone in my family was sick, there was some sort of emergency or bad weather…you name it, it happened! And inevitably my day would be postponed, rearranged or downplayed big time! I’m not bitter about it. I think I just accepted that it is the way it is, a long time ago. Even as an adult something ugly usually happens. Last year, due to the bankruptcy of Mexicana airlines, we had to find a wildly overpriced one-way ticket back to Vancouver for my son. In order that he was home in time for the start of classes, the only flight available to him left on….you guessed it, August 29th. Wasn’t a great day!

This year I wanted to do things differently. I wanted cake, beers and the people who I love the most here in Mexico City to celebrate with me. I asked my partner to plan something and did he ever hook me up. On Saturday the 27th, a group of thirty of my favorite people and myself went to Xochimilco.

For those of you who don’t know, Xochimilco (also known as the Venice of Mexico…it’s a stretch, but hey!) is a suburb in the south of Mexico City. It’s home to one of the last remnants of the lake that originally housed the Aztec island capital of Mexico City, then known as Tenochtitlan. It is a series of interconnecting water ways and floating gardens called Chinampas. The name Xochimilco is an Aztec word compound that translates as “the place where the flowers grow”. To this day Xochimilco is known as the place in Mexico City to get fresh-cut flowers. Once we arrived, we all loaded onto the gondolas and off we went.

We were given the choice to either go on the long route or the short one. We chose the long one which lasted just over 4 hours! And as soon as we were off…out came the drinks and the food and the music!

A good time was had by all, but especially by myself. It was so nice to ring in my 33rd year and have a day to call my own.

*In keeping with tradition, today I was given some really bad work related news. I should feel really jilted but I don’t. I tricked fate and had my day early this year!*

Taking a little road trip

I’m off for one last get away of the summer. I’ll be going to Cuernavaca with my partner and his family where they have a vacation home.

I’m looking forward to some long overdue time by the pool, good food and really hot weather.

I’m planning to be posting again as soon as I get back.

What are your plans this weekend? How was your summer? What did you get up to?

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Enrique Ježik and the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC)

This past sunday my partner and I went to the Museo Universitaria de Arte Contemporáneo at Mexico City’s UNAM. (Something I had never done before.) Having previously read reviews online I knew I was in for a treat. MUAC did not dissapoint!

The main exhibit was a collection of previous installations by Argentine artist Enrique Ježik (born in Córdoba, Argentina, 1961 and residing in Mexico City since 1990). The exhibit is called in spanish “Obstruir, Destruir, Ocultar” or “Obstruct, Destroy, Hide/Cover Up”. At first glance I thought I was looking at props from the set of the Hostel series. What looked to be electric chairs, a severed arm in a large fish tank, cages and what appeared to be other devices of torture.

The look was dark, industrial and intense in its message. The space was minimal and seemingly devoid of life or anything that would be necessary sustain it. It really was the epitome of destruction and it’s consequences. Yet in all its bleak austerity I walked away thinking “at least I know now that it doesn’t have to be this way”. The extreme representations of violence were a loud wake up call for me personally that this is NOT a world I would ever want to inhabit. I’m not sure if the work of Enrique Ježik is meant to be a wake up call to those who see his work…but that’s certainly how I took it.

Moving on from the brilliant work of Enrique Ježik, the Museum had a number of decidedly more lighthearted pieces of artwork to take in. By artists whose names I stupidly didn’t make note of (all the more reason to back I say).

Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite pieces:

If you’ve never been to MUAC and you live in Mexico City or plan on visiting I HIGHLY recommend you visit! The space is truly an inspiration. (And after filling yourself up on culture you can go fill your belly at the restaurant! I recommend the Parmesan Chicken, which was fried heaven.)

A day at the Viveros of Coyoacán

On friday I took a trip to the suburb of Coyoacán (more to come about this amazing suburb in the near future). While I was there I had an incredible lunch, did a little shopping and as if that wasn’t enough I ended up at one of my favorite places in the whole of Mexico City. The Viveros (Nursery) de Coyoacán is part public park and part flower/tree nursery. What I find so magical about the viveros is that it truly feels like a world apart. I live somewhere between Polanco and the corner of Traffic 24/7, so being amongst the flowers and trees and filling my lungs with the fresh air is a sweet reprieve to say the least.

According to Wikipedia the viveros sit on 38.9 hectares of land in the far west of Coyoacán and was originally established in the early 20th century in an effort at reforestation especially around Mexico City. The land was donated to the city by Mexican environmentalist Miguel Ángel de Quevedo and in 1938 was designated a national park. The viveros claim to see between 2,500 to 3,000 visitors per day.

A view of the park and jogging path.

In the nursery every plant imaginable (or at least it seems that way to me) can be found. Cacti unique to Mexico, orchids, succulents, flowers of every colour…everything you could dream of can be found there. Not to mention all the garden implements, it really is a paradise for someone with a green thumb or even someone who is learning like myself.

As a child I used to think that plants and being interested in them was for old people; judging by the joy that I get as an adult of being around all the different varieties of plants I can only conclude that I myself am now old!

Have you ever been to the Viveros de Coyoacán? What did you think?