Travel Writers: Looking Inside and In Between the Buildings

by Julie MacCormack

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

As the plane landed last July in Mexico City, I was incredibly awe-stricken at its sheer magnitude. Looking through the small oval window, all I could see for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers around was an endless sea of buildings. Over the course of my short stay, I got a glimpse of what lies inside and in between some of these buildings: one of the most incredible places I have ever visited with its old and rich history, diverse cultures, stunning natural and contrasting beauty, as well as people that are ever so passionate, genuine and kind.

The depth of the poverty was certainly humbling. Large shanty towns spanning across numerous street blocks, heavy pollution, children putting on short circus-like shows in between green lights, while others sold small toys and food, all for a couple of cents from the millions of motorists driving to and from work everyday. After handing a coin to a teenage boy for cleaning our windshield, my friend explained that if the millions of people that make up the informal sector in Mexico City did not work on the streets, many would likely resort to crime in order to survive.

One image that remains so vivid in my mind is walking with my friend and her mother through the maze of narrow pathways adjoining hundreds of garage-like spaces of an outdoor market that sold beautiful native Mexican crafts, an array of silver jewelry and multicolored tapestries. As I stopped to buy a few bracelets, I noticed four little girls – the eldest maybe nine – that were selling handpainted pottery. They were all barefoot, laughing and dancing to music blasting from their radio, completely oblivious of their surroundings. They made us laugh because they looked so happy and care-free.

What fascinated me more than anything in Mexico – as in all my travel experiences – was walking inside and in between the buildings, learning about people, understanding how they live, their intricacies, similarities and differences to others. The smell of coffee in Coyoacan, the sounds of dogs barking late at night, traffic jams that are not so much a nuisance as a part of daily life, an artist’s explanation of his impressionist-like painting of a ballerina dancing freely, majestic and intricately designed cathedrals, European-style buildings, as well as standing on my friend’s rooftop and just gazing out at the city are just a few of the moments, conversations, encounters and details that have formed a multicolored tapestry of memories in my mind…making me incredibly excited at the thought of venturing out to seeing and exploring more of the world. Carpe diem.

All texts © Julie MacCormack

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