I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

viernes, diciembre 10, 2004

My Street

For starters, here's what my street looks like. Mexico City is divided up into neighborhoods called "colonias," and the one I live in is the Colonia Roma. Don't think the whole city looks like this, but this is a pretty typical middle class neighborhood. Notice our neighbors' fondness for topiary pruning, something which annoys my mother to no end. My mother says that when she was a child (1950s), the city was clean, full of trees, and only had about 3 million inhabitants (now it's over 20 million). At some point they cut down a lot of the trees, so in 1990 president Salinas de Gortari (whose brother, incidentally, was just murdered, but I'll get into that in another post) initiated the "Cada familia un Arbol" (A Tree for Each Family) campaign to "reforest" the city, and at least on our street, a tree was planted in front of every house. They did a really half-assed job of planting them, not giving them enough room to grow, and of course no one ever came to check on them again. The fate of each tree was therefore determined by its keeper. My mom, being a huge fan of plants, regularly pruned and fertilized ours. It survived, and did not have to suffer the ignominy of being turned into a little powder puff ball.

This is what is called an "eje vial," a larger street that is one way that carries heavy traffic. My block is between two of these, Medellín and Monterrey. This is Monterrey. As you can see, many buildings on these streets have businesses on the ground floor, making it a very convenient neighborhood to live in. I took this picture during a miraculous break in traffic...don't be fooled.