I lived in Mexico for 7 years, but it's great to be here with Star photographer Carlos Osorio. Born in El Salvador, Carlos came to Canada when he was little and had never been to Mexico City. His only impressions of this country came from the crowded, dusty streets of Juarez, where we went on a story a few years ago. That is the image of Mexico of most people: the Border. Mexicans and others trying to get across and the privileged North trying to stop them. Poverty, joblessness and desperation.
All those things exist in Mexico. But it is also a great country blessed with a capital that has been a literary, artistic, political, academic and religious beacon to Latin America for centuries. I would argue Mexico City is the capital of Latin America, no matter what Buenas Aires or other cities might claim. For Carlos, being here even on a terrible story like swine flu, has been an eye-opener to the beauty, even majesty, of a great Latin American city. "It feels so full of life, the noise, the churches, the smells, the people," he says. "It's great. I love it - I guess for me it's in the blood."
Carlos gets to see the magnificence of the Latin American culture he shares. He's proud - and excited as a photographer. The light alone is amazing; he should see Havana.
It's sad fallout from cutbacks in the media (to cite one reason) there are no longer Canadian bureaus here. The news is so much richer than the occasional health catastrophe or earthquake. We think of Mexico then, or when we read about farmworkers coming to Canada. Or when we are part of the more than a million tourists who travel here every year. Such a pity.
Oh dear. They say (in Spanish) if the dust of Mexico gets into your heart (or your soul, I don't remember), you are a prisoner for life. I guess that's me. I hadn't realized how much I yearned for the light, the birdsong, the gardens and, most of all, the people. Can I go home again?
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Mexico City is in lockdown for swine flu and tomorrow will be double lockdown because it's the May 1st International Workers Day holiday. So anything that is open today won't be tomorrow. And Tuesday is May 5. Cinco de Mayo. That's the day Mexican troops beat the French army in 1862 in Puebla.
Setting up interviews is so much fun. When I lived here I worked out how many holidays Mexican have and it's something like double those of dour Canada. Mexicans know how to live.