Stalls at the weekly market.
Both last year and this year, we stayed in a hotel in a quiet part of the city called Escandon. It's just south of the trendy Colonia Condesa, but is a regular working-class and mixed-income neighborhood with apartment buildings, shops, schools (a primary school and a Montessori school), pharmacies, repair shops, churches. Instead of fancy restaurants, there are the typical taquerias and comidas, bakeries and ice cream shops, run by a single person or a family, and many street vendors selling Mexican food specialties cooked on the spot, fresh juices, flowers, shoe-shining or repairs, clothes and household goods. There are a lot of car repair shops, and these and the other businesses exhibit a fine degree of specialization, almost unheard of anymore in the U.S. There is also an indoor market, open every day, where you can buy vegetables, fruit, meat, spices, household goods and just about anything else, and a lively outdoor market every Tuesday when many vendors come and set up under tarps and tents. All these activities take place on long, busy commercial streets; parallel to them are quiet tree-lined residential blocks with much less traffic.
One of the things we like so much about Mexico is the emphasis on small, independent family businesses -- franchises do exist but they are much less prevalent, and people seem to patronize the person they know who makes fresh juice, or repairs chairs, or does the laundry: we dropped ours off one morning, the proprietor weighed it, and we picked it up and paid for it at 3:00 pm. Each morning we went to the local panaderia and bought rolls or sweet bread; down the street we bought coffee, and then went to the park to have our breakfast while a woman took an exercise class through their salsa-based paces. It all felt very old-fashioned, in a good way.
I didn't take a lot of pictures on the street because I didn't feel comfortable doing that, especially in a place where we saw the same people every day and often interacted with them. I'm sure if I had asked they would have said yes, but I didn't. So these are more general views of what life is like in Escandon. Add plenty of boom-boxes and music and chatter, along with ever-changing smells, and you'll get the idea!
The local pharmacy, open 24 hours a day.
A small restaurant, fancier than most in this area.
One of the main roads that crosses Escandon. The local streets are smaller than this, with much less traffic, going at a slower speed.
A residential street.
A typical twig broom used for sidewalk-sweeping.