Things to love about Mexico City

Like Los Angeles Mexico City is blessed with a near-perfect natural environment.  It is almost always a pleasant temperature outside and usually sunny.  And like Los Angeles the city has nearly ruined itself with growth that led to sprawl that led to traffic that led to smog.  Fundamentally, however, it is tough to wreck paradise.  Homes, art museums, restaurants can all be open to the air outside without even bothering with screens as there are few insects up at this high elevation.  You don’t have to be a prisoner in your house against hot, cold, or mosquito-infested weather.

Besides this fundamental enabler there are the standard tourist things to love, i.e., great museums, spectacular public art and architecture, lively streets, lots of music, and cheerful people.

Going to public school in the 1970s in the U.S. we were taught to fear three things:  Communism, drugs, and Mexico.  If you’re still carrying a lingering fear of Mexico it shouldn’t stop you from spending at least 4 or 5 days here in Mexico City just once in your life.

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The other news from Iraq

I had dinner here in Mexico City with a reporter who was about to return to Iraq, where he has already been twice in 2003.  The impression that I’d gotten from following the news in the U.S. is that the situation in Iraq is improving very gradually.  The progress is hard to see like the rising of an exponential function near 0 but eventually it might take off sort of like the diode equation around 0.6 volts even though actually the curve is the same.

The reporter, who’d spent a couple of months on the ground in Baghdad already, was much more pessimistic:  “Iraq isn’t a country; it is three countries:  a Kurdish north, a Sunni center, and a Shiite south.  These people all hate each other and would like nothing more than a civil war so that they can all kill each other.  The only thing that is stopping them right now is the fact that 95% hate Americans, maybe 10% enough to try to kill Americans personally.”

He was not looking forward to returning.  “I’m afraid, to tell you the truth.  I’ve worked in Kabul and been in the middle of skirmishing warlords in Afghanistan but Iraq is a lot scarier.”

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From the capital of an oil-rich nation…

This item comes to you from an Internet cafe in the capital of a country that is

  • oil-rich
  • still smarting from the pain of a U.S. invasion
  • throughout its history has seldom enjoyed a government elected by the people
  • lacking in basic physical security, except in a handful of areas patrolled by guys wearing body armor and toting machine guns
  • not somewhere you can turn on the kitchen faucet and expect drinkable water to come out

Does this sound like a crisis?  Actually it is normal everyday life in Mexico City and somehow nobody seems to mind.

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