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Worst Undeserved Bad Rap: Mexico City

If I believed the press, I’d be sucking air through a gas mask, cowering in the apartment with an armed guard outside.

Instead, I’m sitting at an airy outdoor cafe by a broad boulevard, in the sun, reveling in the cosmopolitan scene. I haven’t seen anyone with a gun so far, which is more than I can say for Texas which I just left! No knock on Texas, but we Canadians are sensitive.

I’m here visiting my son, Evan, and his partner, Erin. These two have crafted an original context for themselves [with the gracious help of Evan’s employer, Trans Canada] which has to be seen to be appreciated, particularly after all the distortion this place receives. I’m so glad they’re here, so I could come!

Sure, when we descended past the volcanoes, it was through a brown cloud hanging over the City. There are third world moments on the way from the airport. Lines of cinder block buildings along overcrowded roads with roll up shutters protecting shops that are otherwise open to the street. Lots of traffic and lots of people.

But here in Polanco, it’s like Paris, New York. Tree lined generous streets. Many more public spaces than many American cities. And attractive prospects everywhere. I’m drawn to get out, go walking, take in what’s on offer.

Yesterday, we strolled far, over to Reforma through streets named for philosophers and poets. Horacio has a generous walk right down the middle of a green boulevard median with a row of trees on either side distancing it from the roadway. There are public fountains in the roundabouts and fashionable folks out walking their small dogs in the warm air. Today, we will enjoy another initiative driving down pollution as we bike along one set of blocked lanes on Reforma. We can go for miles – well, kilometers, all the way to the Zocalo City Centre on this major avenue, open only to pedestrians and bikes on Sundays. This is common in Latin America. Unknown in Canada or the US in my experience.

This young couple is on a constant diet of great performances and fine art – Jamiroquai is coming. Grizzly Bear is Thursday. Madonna was just here. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are on their way. Latin Jazz at a club tonight. The brash and brand new Soumaya gallery [pictured], a world scale offering among many dazzling museums and exhibition spaces.

When Cortes beheld the then lake City Tenochtitlan, he declared the gardens, structure and organization much more sophisticated than any he had experienced in Europe. Mexico was then the most populous, cleanest and most galvanizing metropolis on the globe. It was an intoxicating vision.

People should come back! They might be surprised. No, shocked, at what awaits them.


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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