From Wikipedia: The Mexico City Metro (in Spanish, Metro de la Ciudad de México), officially called Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, often shortened to STC, is a metro system that serves the metropolitan area of Mexico City, including some municipalities in Mexico State. It is the second largest metro system in North America after the New York City Subway. In 2011 the system served 1.487 billion passengers, placing it as the ninth highest ridership in the world.

*******

This is an exercise in patience and endurance.

Mexico City itself is really spread out, and traffic abounds, so I was grateful for a method of transport that zipped me across the city whenever I was ready. The zip comes with a price, though: the madness that there actually is aboard the train, and even on your way there.

For those new to my writing, a little background: I grew up in New York City, riding mass transit with my mom as early as I can recall. I went to school in D.C., where I had a car for about 18 months, the only time in my life I’ve driven on any consistent basis. Then I moved to St. Louis where I navigated their very limited transit system for four years, and for the last eight years I’ve lived in Chicago, where though we often bitch and moan about the CTA, we are terribly lucky to have one of the country’s Big Five transit systems.

So yeah, I know transit systems. But the trains in Mexico City will throw you so off balance you’ll need your chakras realigned afterwards.

Sensory overload begins with the street vendors which are concentrated around each station. Sometimes you can’t see the station entrance for all the tarps that the vendors have around their stands.

There are no farecard machines; instead, each station has an attendant in a booth selling tickets. Good luck with that line. On the positive, each ride runs 3 pesos, around 25 cents US.

You finally make your way past the turnstile and follow the signs to your train according to which direction it’s going, it’s final destination. On the way there, in the station, you will encounter taco and torta stands, tamale vendors, fucking Dominos Pizza locations (yes, underground), everything.

EXHALE. You have made your way to the actual train platform. Another notable difference: there is an area for women and children only, the first few cars of the train, for “safety”. This is mostly respected, and is either an awesome idea, or makes us all sitting ducks and a total target.

“Only Ladies and Children”

 

The train arrives. It is super long and bright orange and not air conditioned (which is fairly normal outside the States, I think. French and Spanish subways don’t have A/C either). The windows are open. Chicagoans, can you imagine if we opened the windows on the Red Line subway?

Now the real fun begins, because the vendors of all types have sitting ducks and a forced captive audience. So much random stuff I saw being offered for sale, from gum to travel size toothpaste and toothbrush to cough drops  to a whistle which was especially annoying when demonstrated.

There are panhandlers, people who I’m sure are lovely in real life but, down here, the tone deaf blind guy with the karaoke machine singing a song and taking donations, you will not be fond of him despite his situation, I promise you that.

The winner though, the grand motherfucking prize, goes to the guys selling CDs of popular music. Because they are all carrying backpacks with SPEAKERS in them. The music will start, and is so loud you will believe at first that it is on the train loudspeaker (which was never officially used, no station announcements, nothing). Dude selling CDs has a discman attached to the speakers and cycles through samples of each song.

S. O. Fucking S.

By the time you arrive at your destination you’re quite rattled and can’t find the exit quick enough. Look for the signs that say SALIDA.

Run.

Advertisements

Having purchased the tickets just a few weeks ago, I didn´t have time to get nervous about the difference in AeroMexico´s confirmation to many other airlines I´ve booked in the past. Still, I had checked and double checked the email from them, and next to Status it said CONFIRMED and next to my seat number it said CONFIRMED so who am I to question?

Except that then, my online checkin the night before the flight resulted in a

FURTHER INFORMATION NEEDED, PLEASE CHECK IN AT AIRPORT.

Oh no. I do NOT check in at the airport.

The morning before the flight (set to depart at 255PM) I got on the phone with them, and in short order it was discovered that they, for whatever reason, had never charged my form of payment, so while I had a seat reserved, I somehow HAD NO TICKET.

Insanity, all of it, but it ended up resolved, after much persistence and a consistent check on my part to watch my tone, as it´s easy to lose it when you´re looking at your fully packed suitcase and passport while the person on the phone tells you you´re basically not going anywhere.

*******

Fast forward a few hours to 36000 feet over Northern Mexico, and all is fine as I have made friends with two lovely Mexican flight attendants and am hanging out in the area at the back of the plane, drinking Cuban Rum and Mexican Cokes, and all is well with the world.

*******

I spent Saturday morning with the spirits of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at their Caza Azul in Coyoacan, about 6 miles south of the center of Mexico City. It´s one of the oldest neighborhoods and it shows in cobblestone streets and peace and quiet.

I´ve felt a kinship to Frida ever since I first became aware of her, though I don´t know exactly why. Is it that I perceive a physical similarity?

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, Detroit (Unfinished), 1932

*******

Whatever it is, I really enjoyed the vibe at her home and studio. What a beautiful and peaceful and wonderful place, with light pouring in and lush gardens at its center.

Maybe it´s that I am drawn to girls who never quite outgrow playing with glitter.

I also continued to San Angel and spent some time at the Satuday Bazaar there. A long, wonderful day. Here´s just a sampling of shots from today.

Shot from Frida´s studio table

Kitty in Frida’s garden

The current exhibition, Las Apariencias Engañan (Appearances Can be Deceiving), features more than 300 pieces from Frida Kahlo’s personal collection of dresses, costumes, medical paraphernalia, and accessories.

Pyramid in the garden of La Casa Azul

The spice lady at Mercado de Coyoacán

Piñatas! at Mercado de Coyoacán

I bought the most gorgeous mamey that I could not possibly finish alone – I had lunch at a taqueria in the market and had a wedge of fruit for dessert, and gave the rest to the crew working. They were thrilled!

Kept capturing kitty tongues all day. Thank you cats, and thank you quick shutter speed! This is one of three shop cats at tocamadera in San Angel.

Brought to you by Danzig, via Wye Oak:

——-

Brought to you by Karen Maezen Miller:

a mother’s unmanifesto

March 25th, 2013

window1

Do not be me.
Do not act like me, look like me, talk like me, live like me or remember me.
If you should, in some late season, see me in yourself, realize that I am long gone and happy to live forever in the deep well of your forgetting.
Forget my voice.
Absolutely, I mean it this time.
Even this voice!
Allow yourself the quiet I disturbed.
Remember instead what you said and what you did.
The things I overlooked.
The things I tried to change.
Your silliness.
Your friends.
Your fascinations.
Your refusal to listen to my worry and fear.
I was trying to turn you into me!
Find your heart.
Free your mind.
Use your feet.
Love your life and hate it, sometimes, too.
Everything is permitted.
Give yourself totally to your world.
Overrule me.
Remove my hands.
Escape my grip.
Kick me out of the house.
I will fly in on the starlight
between the cracks
through the gaps
in the empty veil of time
and watch you.
Silently watch you.
It’s all I ever wanted to do.
Love, Mom.

For my daughter, in tribute to my mother, with apologies all around.

——-

…and, mine:

You were my mother for 35 years. This is more than some people get, but less than most do.

I am far from your most notable achievement, not the first line of your obituary. How ironic that the version of you I am most enamored with is the one of you before you thought up my existence. The independent icon, the star of stage and screen and even print.

One of the universe’s cruelest jokes is that thinking of your gorgeous, boisterous laughter nowadays makes me tear up, regardless of my locale.

Of the few secrets I kept from you, the largest one is that nearly 19 years ago I ended a pregnancy, one that I knew would disappoint and embarrass you because of my age and the circumstances. I wonder “What if”, especially on days like this one, really meant for cards and flowers and brunch.

At least the thoughts wrap up with relief and not regret. Still, I long for your point of view.

I miss you more than I ever thought possible.

 

644009_10152145689020055_1155730584_n