Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal
6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 2) La Plaza de Tres Culturas (The Plaza of Three Cultures)
After checkin’ out El Zocalo, Dan and I headed for some breakfast and found a superb restaurant named Mercaderes. It was incredibly nice looking and since Dan and I are balling on a budget we sat down and took a look at the menu and as it turned out the place was perfect for us and priced at about $90 pesos ($9 us dollars) a plate average.
Mercaderes was right of the Zocalo and had a live pianist and great food. It was farely early in the AM so it was us, one couple at a table and then a group of about 8 at one table celebrating something. The place had marble floors in some spots, carpets in the others and great artwork on the walls.
Before the food came Dan prayed that we would see Mexico City in one day as it should be seen and thanked God for the provision. I ordered something I couldn’t understand off the menu but sound interesting and it ended up being a great choice. It was a plate of 2 corn tortillas topped with refried pinto beans (that were so awesome) topped with two sunny side up eggs, on top of that was corn, a little bit of diced onion, and cilantro and then the whole thing was covered in white cheese then the whole plate was covered in a white mushroom cream sauce. I got all that with some hot chocolate to drink and I was a happy man.
On the way out I picked up a card of the restaurant (see above pictures) that showed every Jueves y Viernes was live Jazz! I am a bit a of Jazz guy, so this made the place even better.
As we made our way down the street a man in a sharp navy suite about four doors down from Mercaderes, where we just ate, was on the sidewalk pitching something. As I thought him to be some guy tryin’ to make a buck I kept on waliking but my Tio stopped to talk to him. I turned around to tell Dan not to buy whatever he was selling, then Dan told me he could take us on a tour of DF and Mexico City. I looked at him and he said he would take us to La Plaza de Tres Culturas, La Basillica de Guadalupe, Los Piramides te Teotihuacan and anywhere else we wanted to go. We asked how much it would cost (Cuanto Cuesta?) and he replied “Seis Cientos Pesos” which equates to about $60 usa dollars.
We would have spent more then that on Taxi fair to all those places and I talked to Dan about it and if this was a farce and they took us out of the city limits and robbed us then we figured we could handle it and it would make for a good letter home anyways, so we said, sure lets do it. The man in the sharp navy suite then directed to his associate in a silver 2002-2003 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan and we hopped in and he took us on our way.
As it turns out it wasn’t a frace, it was legit and he took us everywhere promised, spent the whole day with us, gave us legit info. and made it so pleasurable that it was like running around DF with a homie and not a tour guide. The prayer was answered.
First stop was La Plaza de Tres Culturas, and it mos def lived up to its name. Inside urban Mexico City we found ruins from Mexica peoples, and people before them that were still being excavated, next to that was a church built of the same stone as the ruins, which was surrounded by modern buildings such as a government building to one side and across the street a few apartment complexes sagging into the water below the city. The Plaza was beautiful and was quite a sight to see.
It was interesting to see the 3 cultures, ways of life, ways of thought, and focuses all in one spot. We have the native ruins focused on worship and order. Here lived people who took slaves, sacrificed people to their gods and were rich in science, math, health care,astronomy, architecture, knowlege, agriculture. Then we had the Spanish church bringing “Civilization” to the indigenous and totally disregarding thier acheivements, their knowelge their life in favor of their own. Oddly, the Spanish were just as barbaric and just as civilized as those they sought to conquer, but both parties were to blind to see it. Then we have our modern day surrounding dwarfing the past in shadows of steel and modern life more focused on what movie start is banging what movie start, if Chiapas beat the Pumas, or maybe even concerned with CNN and Tele Azteca fed news of Politics. Yet it seems as though each culture really hasn’t learnd from the other.
This is the church right beside the ruins. This church was built by Indian slaves by order of the Catholic Franciscan Monks of the same stone as the ruins were built of, which is the reason why the ruins are what they are today.
During the Juarez era, this church was raided and statues, paintings and other things were stolen from the church fueld by the movement agianst the then power of the Catholic Chuch in Mexico. There used to be a statue of Saint Peter on the front of the church and even that was stolen. Across Mexico people stole from churches and this as well as a loss of land ownership and political influence in Mexico led to the “Chirstero Revolution”. Priests would preach that Jesus was King of Mexico and Mary was Queen of Mexico and that an action agianst the Catholic church was an action agianst God himself. Priests would enlist church go-ers to fight agianst the Mexican Amry to gain land and in attempts to overthrow political offices but they weren’t strong enough and eventually it died out. The Mexican Government won and all land for churches is now donated tax free by the government. Before, the Catholic Church owned more then 70 percent of the land in Mexico.
Here we see pictures of a statue of Juan Diego (now a saint) and the big cup (I don’t know what else to call it) that he was baptized in. Juan Diego supposedly was baptized in this very church. Notice here we see Juan Diego (who was said to be Indian with no Spanish blood) and yet he has light skin and facial hair…two traits that Indeginous people didn’t have. Over the course of the day every picture and statue of Juan Diego has him more European looking, taller, stronger, and with more dramatic facial hair. The crazy part about Juan Diego is that there is no proof he ever even existed and since there was no proof he was denied sainthood about 4 times until finally John Paul the 2nd granted him saint hood anyways.
I took three pictures of this sculpture and for some reason none of them came out the way I wanted. It depicts Christ leading an army of Spaniards killing Indeginous people…(shakes head in disgust).
This is a gorgeous statue of Jesus that is held up by metal cables and gives a floating effect…and this picture came out blurry as well. My bad.
I’ll post the rest of my DF trip within the next 24 hours…next up A Barrio in DF, La Basillica de Guadalupe, Los Piramides te Teotihuacan, El Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Barrio Chino y Walking an Hour Across DF in the rain, Graffiti in DF, and Random Artsy Pictures of DF and Mexico City.