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.

7 thoughts on “Things to love about Mexico City

  1. The weird thing about the spawl in Mexico city is how it isn’t that sprawly. It has a certain density — two or three story concrete buildings, built next to each other, like all Mexican cities. Then it stops. The countryside begins very abruptly in Mexico, unlike the US. It’s not quite the same kind of transition in Mexico City as it is in other cities, but it’s still surprisingly fast.

  2. My dad and I went to Mexico around 1997 or 1998, and, flying in to Mexico City, we literally passed through a blanket of smog. I don’t think I’d ever been so disgusted before. Luckily, our trip was in the Yucatan peninsula (Merida & Playa del Carmen mainly). We were only in Mexico City for a night thankfully. If the air pollution has been lowered since then, I’d consider visiting.

    Interestingly, after googling around a bit for their pollution problems I noticed that there’s an MIT-led project studying their air pollution in a mobile lab.

  3. As someone who has lived in Los Angeles and Mexico City and has done a lot of hiking at higher elevations than Mexico City, I can personally say it’s not the Mexico City’s elevation that keeps the flying insects at bay; it’s the smog. Los Angeles is just like Mexico City — you never have to worry about leaving a window or screen door open. There are never any flying insects to invade your home or business. But get away from the smog belt and into the countryside, and there are plenty of flies and mosquitoes for everyone to get annoyed at.

    Mosquitoes, ticks, and flies survive quite nicely at very high elevations. Just ask anyone who has hiked a High Sierra subalpine meadow like Tuolumne Meadows (elevation 8,575′) in June about how well mosquitoes can adapt to high altitude environments.

  4. Elevation is definitely relevant to mosquitoes: they don’t fly higher than the second or third story of a building. They don’t care about the height above sea level though. Mosquitoes are one of the reason that rents are higher above the first and second floor.

    I’m from Los Angeles, and our smog these days is somewhat of an urban legend. We’re not even in the top ten in the U.S. anymore. And the implication that we wreaked our air is not quite true: there was smog in pre-European days from Indian campfires. The L.A. basin just lends itself to this. Santa Anas from the desert hitting the winds from the sea, all kept in by the mountains. Anyway, it really depends on where you are. There is virtually zero smog within five miles of the coast, You can go well east of Sepulveda and not sense any smog. The entire city of Santa Monica and over into Westwood is essentially smog free. Basically, all the parts of L.A. you’d want to live in anyway for other reasons don’t have much smog.

  5. Keb, your Los Angeles must be in a parallel universe and is quite different from the Los Angeles most of us on Earth have lived in or visited. While I no longer live in Southern California, I still visit it quite frequently year round for business and pleasure. Smog is still very much a problem for most of the L.A. basin for nine months of every year. It’s no urban legend. Even Santa Monica and Westwood have their share of bad smog days. If you regularly fly into the L.A. basin as I do, you’ll notice that the smog belt frequently extends past Santa Monica and Malibu and into Ventura County. Thanks to tough air pollution regulations, the air quality in the L.A. basin has improved quite dramatically in the past 50 years, but please don’t kid ourselves, the air in L.A. (except for the winter months) is still quite smoggy most of the time.

  6. I live on the 13th floor in Mexico and the mosquitos still manage to find me. . .

    I didn’t seem to notice the smog too much in Mexico City, but Acapulco is almost as bad, so perhaps I am just used to it. Mexico City is quite impressive and has a lot of history, but do be careful when visiting the city as foreigner.

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