“I am still bewitched by Mexico.” Carlos Fuentes.
Before going to Mexico City this summer, Mexico was solely part of my imaginary literary landscape. A place as real or unreal as any narrative construct.
I knew Mexico through the beautifully complex works of Carlos Fuentes, the magical novel of Juan Rulfo, the pensive poetry of Octavio Paz, among others.
Arriving in DF, I was immediately enchanted by this complex, modern yet ancient cultural city.
“The decline of the aperitif may well be one of the most depressing phenomena of our time.” Luis Buñuel
It’s a city of layers. Originally a web of canals that have now been built over. A city that seems never-ending when you approach it from the sky but feels incredibly intimate once you’re settled in having lunch. A city of ancient ruins and wonderful museums.
I know I have only started to unpeel its layers;
I have only turned page one of this book.
Mexico City is a place one must return to, a book to reread.
Thanks, Stan, have you been to Mexico?
Sort of. Cancun, but I’m not sure that counts. : )
(Hey, I was 21 back then and that was all I was interested in! Would be a much different trip if I returned.)
I bet you had a lot of fun haha!
Yep, was our honeymoon. : )
How beautiful and intriguing you make this place sound 😀
It’s really a great city, so many amazing museums!
Sounds like a wonderful and enchanting time. I’ve only seen a few Mexican ports via cruise ship. I’ve never had a chance to explore it more deeply. Love how you tied it to the literary world.
I’d like to explore more of Mexico as I only know the capital but it’s a start.
I loved how there were bookstores everywhere, reminded me of Paris in that respect.
Oh yes, Paris has wonderful bookstores.
And thanks for the tweet, Carrie!
I love seeing the world through your literary eyes!
I couldn’t help it, haha! Bookstores and libraries everywhere and I had read so much Mexican literature beforehand that the city felt like a well known character come to life.
That is so awesome!
Enjoyed this post and loved the beautiful photographs! Thank you.
Thank you! If you haven’t been, it’s worth a visit (there was a beautiful cat in Frida Kahlo’s garden- not as handsome as Mr. Bowie, of course).
A magnificent and inspiring post, Letizia. Thanks!
Glad you enjoyed it- I’ve been meaning to write about it since my visit this summer!
Funny how that happens but sometimes this posts that ‘get away’ do better if written a while afterwards. This is definitely a case where the delay has worked beautifully.
Thank you- you’re right, sometimes some reflection after an experience helps you understand it better.
I love the photographs, Mexico city looks beautiful, did you see much of the signs of the worrying drug culture? It’s great to discover a new city but always sad not to be able to fully understand it before having to leave. As ever you whet my appetite to travel.
I found the city to be quite safe, no more dangerous than any other big city. We walked around at night and felt comfortable in big crowds during the day. Perhaps there are areas in the countryside that are dangerous but I generally stay clear of visiting drug lords in any country I visit.
Lovely post, Letizia!
I’m always trying to expand my literary horizons to include native writers from other countries. Are there any contemporary Mexican writers or novels you would recommend?
Thanks Jackie! When I was there I read Valeria Luiselli who is Mexican born, South African raised. And Mario Bellatin. Both contemporary writers. Unfortunately, my Spanish isn’t strong enough to read them in the original but the translations seem strong. I have one or two other books but I can’t seem to remember or find them right now but when I do I can give you more names of you want.
This sounds like a great start! I will be on the lookout for Valeria Luiselli and Mario Bellatin. Thank you for the recommendations. 🙂
You’re most welcome! I’ve just started a short novel by Luiselli (I’ve only read her essays up to now).
Transporting… I love the juxtaposition of the Map of Tenochitlan with the city today.
It’s fascinating to think there were canals where now there are sidewalks and streets. Water replaced by pavement. And yet each era of the city’s history is represented, from the very ruins that rise as if uprooted.
Wonderful post, Letizia. I love everything about the Mexican people. I’ve read books, visited boarder towns, lived in Texas and could live off Mexican food. One of my best friends is a Mexican gentleman who has many funny stories about his life and how he came to the States. You always make my mind soar to places I would love to be.
The food was just delicious! And I found the people to be charming too. How lucky that you know it well- I hope to discover the country better over time but my first visit certainly was wonderful.
Thanks for the tweet, amigo.
A great post… I liked the literary references as much as the photographs..
I still consider Octavio Paz one of my favorite poets ever… he was also an essayist, but I like his poems better and above all..
Sending love and best wishes. Happy weekend ahead. Aquileana 🍃🍀
I love Paz as well. I reread many of his poems before and after my visit. What a great poet he was.
Thank you for the tweet!
What extraordinary descriptions of your trip…. you convince me….I am going next year!!!!
Great pictures and great way to talk about Mexico City
I will join you!
Ah Letizia, there is something about traveling that makes the words and narratives become part of our lives. What an adventure you were on. The sights, smells, language of that beautiful city came through in your photography. Carlos Fuentes says it best:
“I am not interested in slice of life, what I want is a slice of the imagination.” Carlos Fuentes
Here’s a quotation you’ll like Rebecca: “In some ways, traveling defines your identity because you find it contrasting so strongly with what you are experiencing. It’s a way of tracing your own outline.” Diego Rivera
I LOVE this quote! Thank you!!💛💛💛
Lovely post and gorgeous photos.
I always feel as if I’ve traveled with you and we’re hashing over the best parts of our trip.
Where are we off to next?
Where do you want to go? 🙂
I just visited Mexico City for the first time in October and loved it! It truly exceeded my expectations.
I agree, Katherine, it exceeded my expectations too, or certainly met them. It’s such a fascinating place. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!
Beautiful! I didn’t know that it used to be woven with canals. Very interesting. I have only been to Mexico once, for my honeymoon, and we had a blast. Glad to see you’re having a wonderful time!
When you see it now, it’s so interesting to think of how it looked before- with its canals. Very different indeed.
Awesome aerial shot there Letizia! And I love the ‘libraria’ – is that doll maker sitting outside? Sadly I mostly know Mexico from the ’68 Olympics.
Thanks Roy- there was a great view of the sprawling city from the plane. Yes, that’s a doll maker in front of the little bookshop.
I love photos like these that show the flavor of a place. I’m so glad you had a fun trip! Have you read The Lacuna? This made me think of it because Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are characters in it, so you’d probably appreciate a book like that more after being there and seeing those murals. It could be a way to bring the trip back again, but I hope you’ll get back there soon too!
I haven’t read it so I’ll add it to my list especially as I loved visiting Kahlo’s house and seeing Rivera’s murals. Thanks for the suggestion!
Very interesting post and wonderful photos. I have never been there, but I knew a little bit about it, due to my Spanish teacher who was Mexican Lady, many years ago.
I am trying to learn some Spanish now (but when I try to speak it, I often confuse it with Italian which I speak – they must be fighting for the same space in my brain).
Well, I had the same kind of problem with Spanish and Portuguese, but it is over now. 🙂
Yes, they are SO similar too!
I hope that you get back to Mexico soon. I want to live it through your adventures. When I think of Mexico City I envision bold colors + ancient ruins, and imagine lots of exotic food/floral scents. Someday, perhaps, I’ll get there…
I hope you get a chance to go one day too. The food was very good, flavours I don’t often have, yum yum.
I have never been there, Letizia, but it looks absolutely fantastic (I’d love a tequila right now after seeing your photos) 😉
I’m not much of a drinker but the tequila was so good! And one of the ways of drinking it there was to take a shot/sip immediately followed by a shot/sip of tomato juice. Went so well together – I recommend it! Bottoms up, my friend 🙂
Awesome, honey! I loved seeing all of your pix, but I was especially wooed by the “then and now” images you showed us. I’m pretty obsessed with those types of images. I have two really awesome “then and now” books for Paris and NYC.
Mexico City has been on my list ever since I read Frida. We’ve only been to Playa del Carmen, but Mexico City will be next.
Then and now pics are always interesting, especially when they are so different as in Mexico City!
Beautiful post, sounds like a place you need lots of time to explore, thanks for putting your unique spin on it.
I like cities that leave you wanting more. Where you can imagine yourself living as soon as you set foot.
The decline of the aperitif! So true.
Enjoying a tequila while snacking on tortillas and salsas before our dinner, I wholeheartedly agreed with that quotation!
Reblogged this on reading interrupted. and commented:
In the aftermath of the earthquake, I wanted to share my ode to Mexico City again: