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Mexico City, Mexico– Peter Davies, an Australian writer and teacher, recently finished embarking on a seven month journey of a lifetime. The idea behind the endeavor was to experience the assorted aspects of Mexico City through its diverse metro lines underground. During his journey, Davies passed through approximately 147 stations within the Mexico City Metro system.
MexicoToday.org had a chance to speak with Davies about his experience and the many people and things he encountered along the way. Davies described the interior of the trains as “mobile marketplaces,” containing all the vivacity and culture of Mexico in an incredibly condensed and active space.
The Mexico City Metro, for Davies, was an all-encompassing underground society with people from all walks of life and ages. Along the way he met students, lawyers, doctors, musicians, street performers, poets, and the homeless underground in an environment that beautifully belonged to all of them equally. The Metro in a sense was like “a great stage”, where all those without a platform of expression could congregate to be heard, seen, and appreciated.
Musicians come from all over to make music with guitars, bamboo flutes, bongo drums, and even coins in cans. The Mexico City Metro contained all the soul, energy, and variety of the actual city and gave Davies a glimpse into the true culture of Mexico, both ever changing and ever inspiring. Davies saw Mexico City as a lively city full of contemporary art galleries and museums (his favorite being the Mexican Antique Toy Museum at Obrera), and at the same time a historical city full of tradition and cultural importance.
By taking the metro to the extremities of Mexico City, Davies reflected on what he learned about the city, its history, and its people. One of the aspects of the city that surprised him the most, however, was the complete openness and friendliness of the people as a whole. He described Mexico City as an inviting place full of life, where “people live harmoniously.”
Davies went on to say, “What surprised me is the diversity of this place. Mexico City is full of quirky surprises all over the place. Mexico City is an extremely vibrant, diverse, modern city with a whole range of different stuff going on in contemporary art and music. Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world. Perhaps that is one of the things people might not know.”
When asked about his favorite neighborhood in Mexico City, Davies spoke about the Roma district on metro line #1. “It travels through Chapultepec which is a museum district and has a really big park. Then it goes through Roma which is a really bohemian district, and then goes through the Centro which is fantastic for architecture fans.” The Roma district attracted the attention of some of the most influential writers of the Beat Generation like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
Today, the neighborhood still contains an artistically bohemian allure to it that sets it apart from the rest of the city. Davies also reflected on the countless possibilities that exist in Mexico City, from the street art, to the street vendors, to the architecture, to the beautiful parks. He especially noted the importance of food in Mexico City. “Tacos de carnitas which are pork tacos are really nice, with freshly baked tortillas and juicy meat. I eat tacos on every corner, which is one of the many wonders of Mexico’s street cuisine.”
As something to take away Davies stated, “One thing I have worked in communicating through my project and I would like people to take away from it is the need to break down the misconceptions about Mexico. Enjoy this country’s wonders and, come to Mexico and experience it yourself!” Although no plans have been officially made to tackle another metro system in a different city, Davies is open to the idea in the future.