The last day of the IAC conference ended early. Judging by the activity on the conference floors, many attendees had already left the event by Thursday and many more had not decided to show up on the Friday.
My meetings were wrapped up just after noon, which was about the same time Rouzeh was ready with her last session.
Afterwards, taking a shuttle to Auditorio Nacional, we visited the crowded zoo, where pandas munched bamboo and tigers basked in the sun. Just outside the insect pavilion, where billboards advertised huge spiders on display, employees were playing around with a huge Madagascar cockroach, which you could let walk on your hands.
These things were seriously huge, so imagine my reluctance. But, as fears are there to be conquered, I bit the bullet and let the bugger walk over my hands. Nothing but a small tickle.
On Saturday, we did the almost obligatory tour past the city’s most important sites, starting at the Placa de la Republica, where the impressive Monumento a la Revolucion now houses the remains of the national heroes Pancho Villa, Francisco Madero and others.
The most prominent site is of course the Zocalo (“the base”, after a major independence monument remained unfinished in the 19th century), the heart of Mexico city and one of the biggest city squares in the world.
Dominating the square is the Catedral Metropolitano, which has been slowly and unevenly sinking into the underlying muddy ground ever since its construction started in 1573. A pendulum in the middle of the huge church marks the tilt of the building.
Also on the square is the Palacio Nacional, home to the offices of the president as well as some very nice Diego Rivera murals. Diego Rivera, if your memory fails you, is the lover of Frida Kahlo.
On the square, we enjoyed a display of conchero dancers, in feathered headdresses and with shells, concha, on their ankles and hands.
After quick visits to the not-so-impressive Museo Nacional de las Culturas and Museo Jose Luis Cuevas, even though the latter had a Sala de Arte Erotico, we headed to the Torre Latinoamericana, the tallest building in Latin America when it was constructed in 1958, for some wonderful views of the city.
The Torre is right across from the neo-classical and art nouveau Palacio de Bellas Artes, which houses a few more impressive murals by Diego Rivera, including El Hombre En El Cruce de Caminos, which was originally commissioned for the Rockefeller Center in New York, but then destroyed because of its anti-capitalist themes (remember the film?).
In the next door park, the Alameda Central, we listened to Stultiferaz Naviz, a Mexican goth/punk/ethnic Viking-looking band with several bagpipes as the main instruments.
Back to the hotel, the last on Saturday’s list was El Caballito, a huge yellow abstract horse’s head on Paseo de la Reforma.