The weather was overcast Sunday morning, so I made a plan for the day based on the chance of rain. I read that the Museo Nacional de Antropología had free wi-fi (turns out it didn’t), plotted out all of the Starbucks in a kilometer radius and took a picture of the map on my cellphone, packed my umbrella, and called for an Uber. (Three overseas trips and I haven’t figured out a better way to deal with communication than depending on wi-fi and taking pictures of Google Maps. Someday…)
The museum is nestled in a wooded park in the northwest part of the city, fronted by a wide two-lane avenue which was filled with bikers. I walked into the museum and was quietly ushered to a “foreigners” ticket desk, and thus blew past the line. The museum is huge and expertly laid out, built in a square around a large central courtyard and fountain. I went left when I should have gone right and thus did things kind of backwards, but still saw the whole museum. The main exhibits are all marked clearly in Spanish and English, so I knew what the broad strokes were, but the individual captions were Spanish only. Still, I remembered enough from high school to understand about 70% of the information.
Early in the afternoon I was looking at an Olmec colossal head and parsing the Spanish label, when a young woman tapped me on the shoulder. She asked me in good English where I was from, and I told her. She asked me if she could ask a couple of questions, and I agreed. Her first question was if I liked the museum, and I told her I liked it very much. She wondered if I was traveling with anyone, and I told her I was here on business, but that I wished my family was here to see Mexico too. Then she asked me why I was at the museum, and I told her I was very interested in the history of Mexico and of all of the civilizations founded here, and this seemed to make her happy. She smiled and said, “Welcome to Mexico!” and her boyfriend shook my hand. I replied in mixed-up Spanish, probably something like “Beautiful thank you,” and we parted ways.
I don’t know what possessed her to ask me these questions, or if my answers were what she was expecting, but I hope our interaction made as big an impact on her as it did on me.
The history of Mesoamerica is fascinating. I could have spent days in the museum looking through the exhibits, but as the day wore on the crowds got thicker and my need for solitude overtook my curiosity.
I bailed out at about 1PM and walked east toward the Reforma, a long, wide avenue flanked by modern towers and leafy trees. This was definitely a different part of the city than the Historic District; modern and clean, and as I arrived the scene of a city-organized bike rally. Down the Reforma stands the Angel of Independence, a gigantic and inspiring monument to fallen insurgents of Mexico’s past. At the circle, I waited for the car and bike traffic to halt and then ran out to climb the stairs to the monument.
After taking pictures of the Angel and shooting some video of the bike rally, I walked back down the Reforma towards a small Starbucks, which didn’t have wi-fi, and then found a taqueria that did. Here I started out with a beer but the delicious smell of the al pastor meat cooking convinced me to order a meal. I was not disappointed. The chicken pastor was delicious, served inside a flour tortilla with cheese, and my server did not have to twist my arm to order guacamole as well. He then talked me into pork, which was even better. Over my shoulder the TV was showing NFL highlights, so I saw the end of all of the 1PM games as I ate.
Then I jumped on the wi-fi and called a cab to head back to the hotel, where I translated a powerpoint deck on infographics into Spanish with Google translate and cranked out a couple of website flats for work.