There comes a moment amidst all the inconveniences, all of the stimulation, all the many beautiful and startling encounters with humanity provoked by living in the center of the almost-largest city in the world, that the glimpses of green between buildings or slivers of sky out the window just don’t cut it. It’s that smog-induced claustrophobia that causes you to realize you haven’t exhaled in over 20 seconds. It’s that empty feeling when you realize you’ve been chopping vegetables in silence for a long time, and all of a sudden you’re regurgitated out of a lonely mind-space onto the kitchen floor. You pick yourself up startled and wondering where you are.
These sensations have hit me abruptly a few times since I’ve been living in Mexico City, with an occasional burst of dismay at the agitation of hyper-urban life. The need for air and space has led me to some unrivaled scenery and some of the most mystifying and glorious terrain I’ve ever seen in my life.This has become important, especially as the climate shifts away from the rainy season into the drier colder months, which means the dust and pollution will continue to hang more intensely over the city.
This past weekend, Cassandra, Emma, Mara (all Casa volunteers) and I went to Parque Nacional Desierto de los Leones. It is a gorgeous tall pine forest nestled in the southwestern corner of the city. Despite our attempt to get there solely on public transportation, we ended up taking a cab for the second half of the journey. After over two hours, and a series of winding, mountainous roads through Mexico City’s periphery, we wound us up at the doorstep of a convent in a misty, tranquil bliss. I donned my hat and gloves and let the frigid humidity sink into my skin. It felt so amazing to breath fresh, chill air, to eat tlacoyos not doused in exhaust from Puente del Alvardo (the highway that borders our neighborhood), and get some divine silence while wondering through the ancient stone walls of the convent and its impeccably maintained gardens. By far a highlight of my time here so far, and a much needed break from the city.
Another couple of my favorite refuges so far in the city are only a metro ride away. This park is in Coyoacan, about 45 minutes South of the Casa on public transportation.
This is Parque Bicentenario, a industrial wasteland turned park/skatepark/playground. It has great running trails and space to play soccer.
A few weekends ago, I also had the chance to visit Puebla, a beautiful colonial town only 2 hours outside of Mexico City. There we visited the Great Pyramid at Cholula.
Finally, I have the little bit of life I have brought to my own room. My very own bonsai!