Monday began early with a site visit trip to Taxquena.  Maria, Katy, Professor Arquero and I all catch the metro at 7:15 a.m..  We begin by first documenting the floorplan and section of the station, taking notice of relationships of distances, programming, structure, among other aspects.  It is quite a productive session.  We meet at Tok’s at 11:00 a.m., dividing into groups to cover the different zones of the station.  My group covers the market, Tok’s, and the western site barriers and gateways, including the informal markets there.

After this, we travel to Chipultepec Park, walking down La Reforma to arrive into a wooded park.  A curving path lined with vendors celebrating the holidays, offer us all sorts of delicious fares.  Sol buys a puffy chip snack with a semi-spicy red sauce.  Lars and I split fresh mango, watching the man cut it, put it into a cup, and then sprinkle it with a chili and sugar powder, which contrasts excellently, like salt on watermelon.  We visit a lake, teaming with blue paddle boats, while tall structures (not really skyscrapers, as we are in Mexico City), and although  not exactly like it.  I am brought back to Singapore, where the towers create a back drop to the lake.

By this time, it is only the professors, Sol, her sister, and myself. You’ll always learn the most about the city by listening to the people that live there.  We see the caballeros twist their ropes around a central pole, one hundred feet in the air.  Then spinning down calmly from above, a slow descent.  We walk through Polanco, enjoying the tree lined streets but also the inexplicable calm and harmony, brought about by the place and time of day, not attributable to any one element, but the result of a collective.  We see the densification of the neighborhood, converting plots of single family residences to four story condominium complexes.  Modern, a head high wall lined with hedges enables the building to be pulled closer to the street, blocking views of automobiles on the street.  Sol remarks that just because buildings are old does not make them of historically value, and of course, this is true, but people often fail to think in this manner.  We are all tired and sit down for a snack and a drink.  For me, this is a great opportunity to learn about the challenges of academic life, the tenure process, research initiatives, professional relationships within the university, and other things, especially from Professor Arquero.  Sol and her sister have all kinds of friends in the neighborhood, and it is obvious they place an importance on maintaining their friendships.  Afterwards we head to the hostel, changing quickly to then return to Manuel Cervantes and his wife, Sofia’s home.  Manuel designed the condominiums, and the white ceiling with recessed lights and sandy wood floor, provide a social environment for us all.  Contrasting, the dark wood patio, with a wall of vegetation, is lit by a candle on the table, providing for intimate conversations.  Manuel, like Tiatonue, shows that Mexican hospitality is the best in the world. We have tacos, chicken taquitos, quacamole, drinks with hibiscus tea, among all other kinds of authentic fare.  I enjoy talking to Manuel about his role as developer and architect for the project.  Aftewards, I speak with Marcello, a young art/architecture history friend of Sol and Maria’s, who is starting an architecture advocacy for Mexican architects, and it is enjoyable to bask in his ambitiousness, actually all of their ambitions – Sol, Maria, Manuel, Titatonue, and Jugo.

After this wonderful dinner, I am in the middle of taking a group picture, when I hear my name called from the streets, and I laugh, because it is my friend Lugo and Peck here in Mexico City.  We visit King’s Club, a regular bar in Polanco, and we all have Paloma’s, green drinks with salt on the rim, tasting of lime and tequila.  We talk of working in Mexico City, and all three of us talk of this summer, that maybe it could be a possibility.  After catching up with them, we head to a 24 hour taco place, enjoying gringas, with a tortilla laid flat, filled with meat and cheese, and then topped with another tortilla, like a sandwich, only Mexican.  Upon arriving back to the hostel at 2:15 a.m., I sit down to write this narrative regarding my visit to Taxquena station.

In Taxquena, you may initially believe that the only relationships that exist are those inhuman relationships between flows of traffic. Each fl ow is further devoid of emotion, no longer being referred to as transport to move people, but becoming the color red connecting with the green, or the blue with the pink, or Line A with Line B. One may think that strangers only exchange the words “Con Permisso,” and never the occasional “Esta Bien?” People never connecting, merely passing by, their experience in the station, although surrounded by a thousand other people, is like being alone in a swirling ocean.
But amidst this disconnection created by such a megastation as Taxquena, two unlikely people, two little girls, will make you think differently. They run around as you are trying to look at all the informal vendors, they will boldly ask you for your name in English. The will say, “Como se dice…” and beg you to write their names on a piece of paper, and you say “de nada,” and take their picture because they ask you to, and they are so unabashedly bold. And the informal vendors you thought seemed so temporary, their red canopies flapping in the wind, begin to seem more permanent, and you see the thin yet sturdy steel structure with gridded metal frames, and some ti led floors or unique treatment of their space. You see how the little girls run around the vendors’ stalls, and the stalls become like little houses in a neighborhood, and that everyone in the neighborhood knows these two rowdy, yet endearing rascals that are always running through everyone’s yard. They run through the rectangular sections of the food service blocks, which contain all kinds of stools for seating, tables for eating, and places to serve an assortment of delicious foods. Light streams down from above through transparent skylights, brightening the six foot corridors that become quaint little alleys. The light streams down onto the drink stand, where the two girls hop up and rest their
weight on the counter, elbows supporting them, feet not touching the ground, as little kids do. But you cringe a little, as you always think they’ll break the counter.  Then you walk away, glad to be back to your work, seeing the old man on the corner, shining
shoes, or observing the young man in a blue shirt arranging dvds, and watching the buses pull up in disorderly lines next to these informal stores. Then those two little girls somehow find you again, although you thought you had moved quite a bit around the whole informal area. They bring their mother to you, and you meet her also, and it now appears that you know the whole family, and they are all living here, on this little neighborhood block during the working day, and retiring across the street to their homes at night. The mom works in the informal third house from the pedestrian stairs, and you do not see a number on it, an address per se, but you bet such a number exists, even if only it is in the minds of the other the neighborly vendors.

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