New Year’s Eve was a great party. The major street in Mexico City was closed to traffic and it filled with people including families. Entertainment was provided by a variety of performers including Yuri. She is referred to as the “Madonna of Mexico” and certainly was a great singer and everyone in the crowd sang along. We went the next day and bought her cd. It was a great atmosphere and there were fireworks at midnight although nothing to rival Sydney Harbour.
It is amazing how the media can portray a place that is so different to reality. We have felt very safe and the police presence is the highest of any country we’ve been in. Large crowds are very calm and the police keep people moving and secure. Mexicans are very friendly and a stranger who speaks English will step in and assist if we are struggling with Spanish.
New Year’s Day was very quite in Mexico City with the streets almost deserted. After our late night too we had an easy day just wandering the streets in our local area called Zona Rosa. We have discovered that Mexico City works in zones and when asking for directions, the first thing you do is say the zone and then once you are in the zone, you can then be more specific.
During our final days in Mexico City we visited the Zocalo (main town square) and the Cathedral. For the holiday season they have a giant ice skating rink set up there and it certainly was popular with crowds of people. The Cathedral was a beautiful building built in neo-classical style. The imagery and icongraphy in the churches is very dark, often depicting the extreme suffering of Christ. However, Mary still takes centre stage. The Mexicans are very devotional and light candles or tie ribbons or pin pins to images/statues of their saints
The Palace of Beautiful Arts is a little walk from the Zocalo and is the Mexican equivalent of the Opera House. It has lovely gold domes and houses famous murals by Diego Rivera. It is also the residence of the Folklorico Ballet which we had seen a few nights earlier. Unfortunately, the theatre itself is only viewable during performances so we didn’t get to see the stage curtain which is made up of over 1 million Swarovski crystals.
Our final morning we made a quick visit to Palacio Nacional (National Palace) where the President yells Viva Mexico from on their national day in September. It also houses some Diego Rivera murals and was certainly a spectacular building.
After all our planning etc we didn’t make it to the Monarch butterflies. The day we had the tour booked it rained and therefore the mud and weather would have made the trip very unpleasant and we wouldn’t have been able to see the butterflies well. It looks as though we will have to return some day (or catch them in Canada on the other end of their migration).
Next stop: Puebla!