Link to photo album for this barrio
(as of 2/17 its still being updated, all my photos from yesterday haven't uploaded yet)
The door behind me, under the tree, is the entry to our new #Airbnb. We can practically take the playground slide to our front door.
The barrio is close Santa Fe, a satellite business center west of CDMX with upscale apartments, multinational corporations and the largest mall in Latin America.
We are in Delegacion álvaro Obregon, near Colina Del Sur, one of dozens of communities in the steep hills between the two urban centers. The hillside is covered with colorful buildings, winding streets and a dense jumble of mixed classes de la gente. This area is one of an expanding series of rings around the Mexico City’s center, filled with residential communities and thousands of homes covering the hillsides.
The vibe is more that of America Latina than America Norte. Unlike el Centro, where we have been staying the past few weeks, this barrio is slice of Mexico City unfiltered - no tourists, no English spoken, no upper class, no high rises, no Starbucks. #ILoveIt.
Generally speaking, in the hills, geography = social class. Those with more money live higher, income levels drop as you descend, eventually reaching illegal settlements with no city services spreading along the creases in the mountainside. Even in dry season, I can hear the drainage water flowing below the streets. I can only imagine the conditions in some of the lower neighborhoods in rainy season.
I haven’t been in this barrio long - my first impression is that it is either evolving upward, or it used to be “up and coming” and is fighting to retain that status against the forces that can drag a community down the mountain - crime and drug use, dirty streets with too much trash. On a walk we see a plastic packet on the ground with remnants of liquid glue that the user sniffs to get high.
This coexists alongside engaged people living their lives - students in uniforms, busy shoppers in a crowded mercado undergoing a remodel, a drainage improvement project blocking off one long street. The local church bell tolls every morning at 7 and 7:20; its a giant alarm on 20 minute snooze.
Our #Airbnb host is a young man who grew up here, he has a Spanish copy of #RichDadPoorDad on the bookshelf, alongside works by the Dalai Lama and titles on #entrepreneurship and interior design. He has divided this former family home into 3 rentals and lives on the second floor, plus has a day job. How do you say #sideHustle in Spanish?
Yes, there is some graffitti; yes, there are some young men lolling about, eyeing the world behind smoking cigarettes and simmering thoughts. They are outnumbered and largely ignored by their bustling elders tackling the world. Signs of aspiration are all around; new compact cars, busy shops, swoops and stripes of global brands on jackets and shoes of neatly dressed locals. Up the hill a trendy chain bakery just opened; large, well-lit and providing a "branded shopping experience" along with a dizzying variety of baked goods. Mexicans love their daily "pan".
On the playground, a.k.a. our front yard, the kids race, laugh, yell and scream until mama calls them home. It is strangely quiet after that. In the morning, small singing birds fill the tree outside our window, what an unexpected lovely surprise.
We walk and come across #picturesque pockets such as this steep terraced stairwell with a view to a twin barrio on the mountainside across the way. To the east, downtown Mexico City.
The Virgin Mary, encased in a decorated shrine, watches over the entrance to the stairway landscaped by homeowners on either side. Flowers spill over the stone walls. It is Valentine’s day. We pass a boy in a red shirt, sitting quietly with a bouquet of flowers on his lap, waiting. Just around the corner of the next stair, the view spreads across the hills to the city beyond.
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