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Full Circle

Day 221: Cartagena to Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico 
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Mexico City - largest in the world. It covers 1200 square miles.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe bad news is that our previous destination casts a long shadow. All baggage coming in from Colombia has to be opened and searched by the anti-drug squad as a matter of course. Our film equipment is viewed with particular suspicion and it is not until three o'clock the next morning that it is finally cleared.

Mexico City, which the locals refer to simply, if confusingly, as Mexico, is a mixture of grim and grand. Modern highways sweep past a colossal spread of characterless concrete box houses, surrounded by scattered debris and brown choked rivers, in which lives most of the sixteen million population of the largest city in the world. Eventually these huge barrios (slums) resolve into the grid plan layout of all the other Spanish colonial cities, but here in Mexico the distances are greater and the boulevards longer.

Distinctive green and grey Volkswagen beetle taxis swarm up and down the monumental main thoroughfare, the Paseo de la Reforma, scuttling past statues of the great Aztec leaders, seen off so summarily by stout Cortés and his conquistadors four hundred and seventy years ago. Outside our hotel, looking like a giant stone traffic cop, a statue of Christopher Columbus stands on a roundabout directing us by hand and pointed knee along the last few miles of the Reforma to the Plaza de la Constitucion, known as 'the Zocalo', the heart of Mexico and, as far as the conquering Spaniards were concerned, the centre of their New World.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 221
  • Country/sea: Mexico
  • Place: Mexico City
  • Book page no: 285

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