A Weekend to Remember
I flew home from a few days in Mexico City this evening. I travelled in solitude and enjoyed the unfamiliar space which that created. Traveling without children is always a surprisingly different experience; there is no one else to look after and thus one gains so much extra time to think and reflect.
I hadn’t been to Mexico City since the summer of 2011 and was overwhelmed by its riotous vitality, colour and warmth as soon as we began driving away from the airport. While taking a short cut to escape the ever present snarling traffic monster we found ourselves in the narrow back streets where a well tended Catholic shrine caught my eye.
I stayed with a dear friend in a gated community evocatively named Privada de Providencia in the San Jeronimo region of the city. Her house is an oasis of cool and quiet spaciousness- with the darling combination of a teenager and two West Highland Terriers thrown into the mix. We had time for long uninterrupted conversations- an absolute luxury!
While I was there primarily to teach a Buddhist weekend course at Sakya Dolma Ling the Dechen Buddhist center in Mexico, I had a little time before we started to re-explore the city itself. We had a wonderful day; beginning early with a morning run at Viveros (The Nursery) a circular track which houses a collection of delicate tree shrubs at its center. Like the Serpentine in London and the Central Park Resevoir in Manhattan, Viveros now has a firm place on my list of home from home running locations.
We walked around the Polanco district in the afternoon, stopping in at the Museum of National Anthropology for the beautifully titled exhibit, Huellas de Buda (The Footprints of the Buddha). We ate a late lunch at Ivoire looking out across Parque Lincoln and then walked some more. I love experiencing cities on foot. You see details and feel part of the environment in a way that would simply escape you from behind the wheel of a car. From the heap of ice cubes melting in the gutter outside a restaurant to the birdsong coming from the aviary in the park it’s always in the detail that I find the most memory.
In the early evening traffic we drove to Coyoacan to begin the weekend course. With its cobbled streets and buildings painted in beautifully bright hues it’s a charming and historic neighbourhood and Sakya Dolma Ling, the Buddhist center, is located there. The center has an inviting meditation space, cosy kitchen and shop and is an easy and lovely place to be. Spending time engaged in study and meditation of foundational Buddhist topics with such a warm hearted and generous group of people was a beautiful experience.
Mexico City brings something special to the table when I consider the cities I visit. The energy of the place itself, the warmth of the people and the speed and joyful vitality of the Spanish language filling the air move me to tears. We stopped at a gas station one evening and while my friend was conversing with the cheerful pump attendant it struck me that there are so many opportunities for people to interact with one another here in ways that might not always be convenient but are nonetheless essentially human.
As I sat last evening on the history-soaked terrace of the San Angel Inn, a hacienda from seventeenth century days of old, I made firm my commitment to master the Spanish language so that when I return to this dear, colourful, chaotic and breathing city I can become part of that mellifluous music that dances in the air.