Not long ago I found myself alone in Mexico City with time to kill. On impulse, I hopped on the Metro and rode out to Chapultepec Park, Mexico City's huge playground. Of course Sunday afternoon is the best time to visit, when the park fills with tens of thousands enjoying their day off from school and work. But I was there on an uncrowded weekday morning. Relatively few visitors walked along the vendor-lined pathways.
(The skyscraper in the distance is the Torre Mayor, the tallest in Latin America.)
Mexican people seem to use parks better better than norteamericanos. How often do you say, "Hey. How about spending a day in the park?" Mexicans say it all the time.
Here an energetic couple entertains junior by chasing one another in circles. Bear in mind they are running full out at an elevation of 7349 feet. Acclimatization is everything.
The less fit sit on a balustrade, watching a busker do the entertaining.
Limbs intertwined, lovers find an spot away from traffic. Parks are full of cuddly couples. I suspect we see so much public romance because houses are small and crowded. Privacy is relative: In Mexico, a park beats sharing the living room with Grandma.
Chapultepec, separated from bustling Tenochtitlán by the waters of Lake Texcoco, was once a retreat for Aztec chieftans. Today the lake is mostly filled in, but remnants exist in the park, like this duckweed covered canal that offers cool shade on warm days.
Another remnant: Lago Chapultepec, where you can rent a paddle boat for an hour or a day. The world's best parks—Central Park, Golden Gate Park—afford city dwellers opportunities to get out on the water.
Today's stroll took me past the monument to Los Niños Héroes, commemorating six military school cadets who fought to the death opposing the invasion of Mexico City by U. S. forces during the Mexican-American War.
The attractions of Chapultepec Park cannot be appreciated in a single day and probably not in an entire week. Twice the size of New York's Central Park, it contains an amusement park, a zoo, and more than six museums, including the National Museum of History, a children's museum, and two modern art museums.
It also contains the incomparable National Museum of Anthropology and History, and the objective of my walk through Chapultepec Park was to pay it a visit. I'll post about that experience in a few days.