Everyone warned us about the altitude, the pollution, the potential for theft or worse, illness, squalor, traffic. All have been, in our experience, exaggerations. It's a huge city with a lot of poverty and problems, and yes, you have to be careful. But I have not felt afraid, and I think I have pretty good antennae now for those sorts of urban threats. Except for a little awareness of the altitude the first day, breathing hasn't been a problem at all; in fact the air has been clear enough that we've been able to see the stars every night from our hotel window. I know it's not always that way, but while we've been here the air quality has been fine. There are sweepers and cleaners everywhere; when you consider what it actually copes with, Mexico City seems cleaner in many ways than Montreal. The traffic is tremendous, but somehow it works, people manage to cross streets, the subway is efficient, the buses run.
We leave tomorrow night, late, and it will be reluctantly - both because I'm dreading going back to what sounds like horrible weather in Montreal, but more so because each day this astonishingly vibrant and beautiful city, with the oldest history in all the Americas and -- most of all -- some of the warmest people I've ever encounted when traveling, have lodged deeper in my heart. I am way behind in writing and about what's happened, and will continue after we get home, and I've made no drawings at all -- but that's because I wanted to see and experience as much as I could rather than sitting in one place.
There's a lot to think about, too. This trip couldn't have been more different from our visit to Iceland last year, but the seismic activity both places share seems to have shaken me once again; I'm coming back changed, with wider eyes, and a broader abyss in my soul, cleft by the people I've encountered. If one picture I've taken encapsulates how I've felt, perhaps it's the one at the top of this page. I know I will carry the beautiful faces of the Mexican children with me until I come back; they've touched me again and again.