Years and years ago, legend has it that a great drought hit the city of Santa Rosa and its disillusioned inhabitants ended up punishing the Virgin MAry. They relegated her to a small chapel until the water returned to the village. Today, every year there is a procession between the temple and the chapel during which the Virgin is transported on a carpet of sawdust that the villagers decorate with caricatures, pop idols and even pagan symbols. This anecdote summarizes the richness and originality of Mexico’s heritage.
Mexico City in particular is a surrealist place that holds many surprises for those who venture outside the clichés of mariachi, nopales and tequila. You will find an Art Museum dedicated to Sugar, a doll made with seaweed at the Indigenous Museum and a chicken with four legs at the Museum of Anatomy and Animal Pathology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Each of these places shelters unusual and secret treasures.
Faith is a source of creativity in Mexico City: it encouraged artists to make a baroque papier-mâché altarpiece hidden in the streets of the Historic Center, decorate the church of La Piedad with a 32 meters high fresco of the apocalypse, convert a 17th century cave into a chapel of the Divine Saviour of Calvary or build a Mormon temple with Mayan symbols.
Nature is also very present in the city. For the inhabitants, it is normal to find a tropical jungle in the middle of the city, like the Serre Faustino Miranda. They listen to music played by water, light and wind with unique musical instruments like the Lambdoma Room (located next to a mural of Diego Rivera created to make the water pass over him). They live in snail and snake shaped houses like the organic houses that Javier Senosiain designed in Naucalpan, or in cities that were inspired by Tomás Moro’s utopia like Santa Fe.
But Mexico City is also a mystery and the result of thousand-year-old beliefs, which is why sculptures are created with weapons confiscated from the drug trade in the Homeland Service Square. Ancient fears are still very present, which is why among the Statues of Milpa Alta there is a monument dedicated to the Nahual, a type of sorcerer who becomes an animal. In addition, people’s dreams are often written on pieces of paper and deposited in the General Archive of Dreams and Utopias before being transformed into sculptures alebrijes. And every year, on the « day the deads », at the Tecómitl cemetery, sculptures of mud are made with earth from the Pantheon, while in Ohtenco, the deads are invoked with huge paper balloons that people release into the wind.
All these places are unknown, they go unnoticed, they remain secret, even for the inhabitants of Mexico. All are presented in the new travel guide « Mexico Unusual and Secret » published by Editions Jonglez. Amazing places in this city, that André Breton called « surrealist by excellence » and that Dalí qualified as « even more surreal than his own paintings ».
Finally, the colossal monument with deep drainage that is the library of Carlos Monsiváis, perfectly reflects the disordered urban planning of the city. Seen from the back, the library merges with immense condominiums, dark alleys, small neighbourhoods and the skyscrapers of Mexico, which are reflected and merge with the library itself. Not to be missed!
The author’s logbook:
1. La biblioteca de Carlos Monsiváis
Plaza de la Ciudadela 4
in Ciudad de los Libros
2. Invernadero Faustino Miranda
UNAM school route
Between the Torre de Ingeniería and the IIMAS
3. Herbario Medicinal del IMSS
Cuauhtémoc Street 330
Centro Médico S.XXI – in the basement of the Unidad de Congresos
4. Museo del Arte en Azucar México
Cuauhtémoc Street 950
Colonia de Narvarte
5. « Retrato de la Burguesía » Mural
Maestro Antonio Caso Street 45
In the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas SME
6. Mammoth of the Talisman subway
East entrance of the Talismán subway
Talismán Street and Congreso de la Unión Street
“Mexico Unusual and Secret” at the Editions Jonglez, Author Yair Lobo