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Three Perfect Days: Mexico City

One of the world’s biggest cities is bursting at the seams with energy, culture, great food and enough surreality to keep it endlessly fascinating

Author Joe Keohane Photography Holly Wilmeth

The Catedral Metropolitana

Picture 2 of 15

MEXICO CITY, a.k.a. “El Monstruo.” The French poet André Breton called it the most surreal place on earth, while writer Salvador Novo said you don’t live in Mexico City, you merely practice it. For generations, writers, wanderers and musicians have flocked here from around the world, drawn by the city’s mad improvisational energy and deep culture, its freewheeling lifestyle and seeming lack of any organizing principle.

Formerly Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, Mexico City still suffers from a reputation earned in the later years of the past century, but the city known by the roughly 20 million residents in its metro area as “D.F.,” for Distrito Federal (akin to D.C. in the U.S.), is booming. Real estate prices are rising; the film, publishing and music industries are among the strongest in the Spanish-speaking world; and a new mayoral administration has launched a slew of programs to cut smog, improve mass transit and enhance public safety, making it easier to enjoy the city’s 160 world-class museums, countless acres of beautiful parks and some of the best food going.

An endlessly surprising, utterly fascinating mix of the sublime and the surreal, D.F. is beloved by its people, known as Chilangos. Come here and they’ll squander no opportunity to tell you about it, argue about it, sing its praises. And here’s the thing: After a few days, you will too.

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One Response to “Three Perfect Days: Mexico City”

  1. Eric Mazur Says:
    November 9th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I noticed that the last three “Three Perfect Days” articles are not available in pdf format (the last one was Stockholm). I do have the Hemispheres iPad app, but I don’t usually walk around foreign cities with my iPad in my hand. It’s nice for reading, but not for sightseeing. Nor do I have international data roaming plans that permit me to pull up the web based versions while traveling overseas.

    Could I convince you to continue the practice of posting the pdf versions in addition to tall the other dissemination?

    I really love the articles and have followed the recommendations of many of your Three Perfect Days articles — with a printed copy in my hands!

    Eric Mazur
    Professor of Physics
    Harvard University

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