Ruth & I didn’t see an information kiosk in Mexico City until we went to Zocalo. It was here that I picked up a city travelers’ guide and met Ulises. The guide was generally worthwhile as was Ulysses’ advice. The guide called Zocalo, the Plaza de la Constitución, the largest square in the world, and I have no reason to doubt this claim. Ulises was very proud of his name but didn’t look like a Greek superhero. He was, however, knowledgeable and able to answer every question posed by me and many Spanish speaking tourists who lined up to speak to him. Zocalo was a memorable experience for 4 reasons.
One entire side of this enormous square was filled with the Metropolitan Cathedral. This monumental palace of worship rivals St. Peters, The Blue Mosque, etc. Its construction began in 1525 and didn’t end until 1813. It’s ornate beyond human imagination and one of those places where women with infants beg on the front steps and you can spend half an hour wandering through it or 3 days passionately exploring. If you do the later, don’t expect to see all of it. We did the former because there was a mass in progress, and we felt like intruders. In that half hour we found small delights among the countless side altars and chapels. One of my favorites was a stature of Saint Ramon. Women who leave a ribbon with a personal message on it hope that this saint can help them by stopping gossip.
As we stood outside the cathedral, a tiny drone whizzed over our heads because a 2nd side of Zocalo is filled with the national palace. It’s used today for government offices, occasional presidential speeches, and an impressive ceremony each day to raise and lower an oversized Mexican flag. Tourists like us line up on its Moneda Street side to gain entry to see several Diego Rivera murals. He was painting them about the time he became involved with Frida Kahlo, who became is wife. Climbing some grand steps up to an outside balcony, we joined a crowd looking at another crowd. In his epic murals Diego tried over 10 years starting in 1925 to show the entire spectrum of Mexican village life. There are even more murals because he came back in 1941 and did 9 more over 11 years. While worth seeing, they did not receive my full attention because I had to surrender a bag containing my cell phone and my passport to strangers to see them.
Mumedi is across from Zocalo and down a popular pedestrian street lined with shops. Mumedi, the Mexican Museum of Design, serves a fine breakfast beginning at 9 am. When The New York Times chose Mexico City as its #1 destination at the beginning of 2016, Patrice Wynne called Mumedi “a hip place to hang, dine, and visit.” She was right.