Saturday, May 4, 2013

City in the sky

View from the car to the hotel
The plane shuddered as we descended through the cloud cover, and then we could see the city spread below us, beneath a yellow hazed sky, vast and dreary. Then we banked and into view beyond the tipped wing, I could see the broad green swath of a tree-lined avenue cut through the tan and ochre stucco mix of buildings. A traffic circle like a bead on a string. A massive stone edifice, crowned with a dome, rising among the trees. I hoped to remember this landmark and check the map. But then it slipped from sight beneath the wing as we continued the descent.

We landed on the tarmac wallowing and slipping wildly enough for one voice to cry out softly, and then it was a relief to feel the wheels grip down.  Welcome to Mexico City, said the captain.

Hotel lobby
 Our hotel is a tired but elegant throwback to the '70s, sleek teak and dramatic sculptures, and the guest rooms are both garish and cheap, like a candy-colored Ramada Inn, but charming in an odd retro way. We had a beer in the lobby bar, served by a bent and courtly old bartender, before venturing out to hear a concert at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Palacio de Bellas Artes
We hustled to get into the concert hall by curtain, so it wasn't until a breather at intermission that I could appreciate the Palacio, an Oz-like Art Deco pile dedicated to the arts. Bold striped marble, murals, and bronze fittings, domed above, stepping on the floor or stair made you wonder if your foot would break the gleaming surfaces of an illusion.

Parque Alameda Central
At night outside, we strolled back to the hotel along the verge of the Parque Alameda Central, the oldest park in the Americas, where couples sat together on wrought iron benches on the wide sidewalk. In the street, taxis and cars surged by, sometimes a squad of police strobe-ing blue and red, sometimes a stakebed truck filled with empty yellow trashbins piled like hay bales.

Papier mache skeleton
 At a bicycle rental station, we encountered a macabre yet jolly figure, the perpetual customer.

Home to the hotel, relax with a Victoria beer and a dish of peanuts salty and touched with lime. A musica romantica trio plays "Besame Mucho," requinto guitar bright magic above the drum machine's hitching bolero, as the middle-aged ladies and gentlemen at a nearby table sway and sing along.

It's our first night here.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

You can have his bike when you pry it from his cold, dead fingers.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Have fun in Tenochtitlan, Aunt Snow!

M. Bouffant said...

Internet synchronicity: No sooner do I read "Besame Mucho" here then this "somber" version crosses my radar.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Love the skeleton on bike!

Have a wonderful time :)