Thursday, January 10, 2013
True happiness is only to be found in heaven, but real Mexican tacos come close. I'm writing now as Jake and I take a little time for siesta.
Earlier today, after waking up late, we wandered to the city center and visited the local Cathedral. It is a massive building resting atop the ruins of ancient Aztec temples. The missionaries did this quite intentionally. There would be no false worship or cannibalism under their watch. They unapologetically wiped out the ancient faith.
The Cathedral is a bit of an architectural oddity. The ancient Aztec city upon which the modern metropolis was built started out as a lake. The Spaniards and Aztecs filled it in. Unfortunately, the city is now sinking. The Cathedral is good example of this phenomenon. One have to step down nearly a foot from street level to enter the building. The plumbob hangs from the dome with marks in the floor below demonstrating the degree to which the building has sunk.
Having prayed for a time we wandered and decided to eat at the first restaurant we found. I ordered fried fish. It was not nearly so good as the fish I found in Poland but it was food at least. And we had complimentary chicharones (pork rinds) as we waited. From lunch we wandered a bit more and then caught a taxi to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She, more than anything else, symbolizes what it is to be Mexican. Her appearance in Mexico as a native woman marked the conclusion to the era of evangelization for this country. After her, everyone was Catholic.
She is beautiful. The tilma bearing her image remains fully in tact after 500 years. The shrine which houses it is enormous so as to fit the crowds who come to see her. The entire grounds of the shrine still atop the hill of Tepeyac where she first appeared, are well kept and lovely. We stayed at the shrine for a long time praying, taking the sun, and wandering shop after shop full of souvenirs. Subtlety is not one of the classic characteristics of Mexican decor. Much of what we looked at would likely be characterized by Americans as gaudy or garish. But it is deeply Mexican. I got a real kick out of it.
Our taxi ride back to our motel was expensive. The driver refused to negotiate. We probably should have taken the metro (there will still be plenty of time for that), but the taxi was faster. Aside from a near collision with a bus, it was relatively uneventful. The driver did his best to describe the various monuments to be seen along the way while evading death in the midst of Mexico City traffic.
Leaving the taxi, I spotted a taco stand where I thoroughly enjoyed some exquisite authentic food. And now, I'm going to take a nap before going out for dinner later.
Here are some pictures from today: