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Coyoacan: The Coyote Capital January 15, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City , 4comments


Coyoacan has always been one of my favorite parts of Mexico City – indeed, it’s the favorite of millions, being a top tourist destination and the home of Frida and Diego, Leon Trotsky and Hernán Cortés. The zone has long been a hotbed of cultural and political innovation, and today it’s one of the most culturally rich and scenic parts of the city, with structures dating to its sixteenth century inception.

On Wednesday I went down for a visit with Subcoyote Alberto Ruz, and after two and a half hours of video, had only enough battery power left for a few shots, sadly. Note to self: NEVER leave home without a spare battery.

This doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive or even complete tour of this beautiful area, just a meander down Francisco Sosa street to the Plaza Central. “Coyoacan,” I learned from the Subcoyote, means “Place of the Coyote” in ancient Nahuatl, and indeed the Coyote seems to be quite present in modern-day Coyoacan, in spirit if not in the flesh.

I also had the pleasure of stumbling upon the place where, supposedly, the famous Tacos al Pastor were invented: El Tizoncito. Sadly, the battery ran out just as the tacos arrived. I can only tell you, they were as beautiful as they were delicious.

In the meantime, enjoy! I know I did.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Jogging on the Hippodrome January 10, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Uncategorized , add a comment

The sun peeked out from the clouds for awhile today, and as my afternoon appointment had been canceled, I took it as a cue. I shed the sweater and switched to jogging gear, grabbed my iPod and hit the street.

I’m not a natural-born runner; my body resists it in every way. But I took up the hobby last year, realizing that if I were going to stay fit on the road, I’d need to rely on means that don’t include going to a gym. Besides, running doubles as an aerobic form of sightseeing – albeit without the camera, the only thing I regretted about today’s run.

(From Friday’s walk: One of several fountains on Amsterdam Street)

I headed straight for Calle Amsterdam, a verdant loop through the heart of La Condesa with a tree-lined path in the center. Formerly called Calle Hipódromo, the loop is what remains of the old Condesa racetrack. Now laced with fountains and gardens and lined with colorful cafés and boutiques among the classic art-deco architecture, it bears no semblance to a racetrack – except for the presence of the other joggers.

The high point was Parque México, an enormous stretch of greenery filled with children learning to rollerblade, boys kicking a soccer ball, tiny dogs in colorful sweaters and their attentive owners, elders perusing newspapers, youngsters listening to MP3 players and families pedaling a four-seated bicycle contraption for rent in the plaza.

Smells of roasting corn, savory pork tacos and fresh flowers filled the rain-washed air. A gentleman sat in front of a booth surrounded by small tables and filled with wooden objects and painting supplies; for $3 you could buy a small animal or for $6 a little wooden jewelry box, and you could paint it however you liked.

Further along I found Mejor en Bici (Better on a Bike), a nonprofit group that provides free bicycles for “rent” in several parks around the city. All you have to do is leave your ID and a 200-peso note, and you can take the bike for a spin.

I don’t know whether it was because of the altitude (Mexico City is about a mile and a half higher than Houston!) or that I’m out of shape after three weeks of huddling in the cold, or simply because there was so much to see, but it was a run-walk type of run. At any rate, it felt great to unclench my huddled shoulders and feel the sun on my skin again.

La Condesa blooms through the chill January 8, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City , 17comments

IMG_0049 My first 24 hours in Mexico City couldn’t have been more colorful. A cold front has settled in here, as well, with temperatures dipping into the mid-40s, and since there are no heaters, people are huddling over soups and hot coffees in the open-air cafes. Except for a few golden hours yesterday morning, a drizzly grey pall grips the city. Still, the flowers are blooming and a general air of cheerfulness has made headway against the gloom – especially on Wednesday, Dia de los Reyes, a Mexican holiday celebrating the arrival of the Magi to visit the baby Jesus.

Southward Bound January 6, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, ecotourism, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, voluntourism , 12comments

backpack tracyST. LOUIS, MO. ­– Today’s the day.

I’ve made my list and checked it a million times; selected and reselected my gear; said my goodbyes and received good wishes and safe travel blessings from near and far. I’ve left my car keys, my smart phone and my GPS behind. I’ll be making my way by foot now and by mass transit; everything I’ll need is either in my pack or shoulder bag, or it’s something I’ll have to find along the way, or live without.

Greening the barrios in Mexico City October 28, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Sustainability, Uncategorized , add a comment

Saving your garbage is a tough sell in a place where gardening is seen as peasant labor. But that doesn’t stop Dulce María Vega from rolling up her sleeves, going door-to-door and recruiting her neighbors for a grand mission. IMG_0465

Dulce is the friendly face of sustainability in her neighborhood. With more than 30,000 residents, Lomas de Plateros is one of Mexico City’s largest apartment complexes. When she first teamed up with Noelle Romero of Organi-K, a local environmental group, to establish a pilot Ecobarrios project at the massive complex, people thought she’d lost her senses.

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Mexico City Ecological Park: A wilderness restored October 22, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 3comments
Dahlias were first cultivated here by the Aztecs.
Dahlias were first cultivated here by the Aztecs.

This could be any other forest on the outskirts of any other city, I think to myself as the path curves through a grassy field, past a burst of orange sunflowers and into the shade of a mossy oak grove. Then Guadalupe stops and gestures for us to take a seat on the cool boulders in the clearing.

“Close your eyes,” she says. “Breathe deeply. Feel the peace that is in this place.”

Far in the distance, the murmur of traffic dissolves into the timeless rustle of the wind in the trees.

I do feel the peace; but my mind is straying back to what Guadalupe has just told me about this place, and it defies imagining.

Just two decades ago, this ferny hillside was virtually indistinguishable from the city below. And had it not been for Ajusco’s position as one of the most important aquifer recharge zones in Central Mexico, and a political drama that is still playing out to this day, it would have remained that way.

Nature is a classroom for Guadalupe Nuñez at Mexico City Ecological Park.
Nature is a classroom for Guadalupe Nuñez.