...I offer the following thoughts:
I leave here Friday with a real appreciation for the history of this city. The Zocalo and the Metropolitan Cathedral alone justify the "Centro Historico" ("Historical Center") designation this portion of downtown has.
The location of this year's IAMCR convention -- Tlatelolco -- doesn't look like much when you exit its Metro stop, and, yes, it is a more densely urban place in comparison to downtown. But tucked away almost out of sight until you are right next to it is the "Plaza de las Tres Culturas," ("The Plaza of the Three Cultures") which documents three eras of Mexican history. Tlatelolco also is the spot where one of the darkest moments in Mexican history took place -- the massacre in 1968 of students protesting the government. Each is properly recognized here.
There is a vibrant street business, much like you will find in Washington and other international cities that allow such vendors to operate. I was advised by two people to visit "La Ciudadela" ("The Little City" I think is an appropriate translation) just off the Balderas Metro stop for the souvenirs I wanted. The people who told me that failed to mention that I also would find a celebration of Mexican pride that appears to be on daily display.
Of course, when someone such as me visits a city, we're likely to see its best parts; our hosts want it that way. Much like when a person visits our homes for the first time, we want everything to look great. The less organized parts of the house are going to be dismissed and not shown. So I won't for a moment deny that there are deep pockets of poverty in Mexico City that I could have found had I gone looking for it.
But that misses the point: Mexico City is a wonderful place to visit. I've never been here before, and I'm a bit embarrassed to say that my wife has wanted to visit it far more than I ever have. The many posts on this blog and other conversations with her has her determined more than ever to see it for herself. (Yes, she wants the boys and me along as well!)
The professional opportunity that brought me here, the IAMCR convention, concludes Friday. I didn't check with the organizers to see how many people attended, and I'm not the best at guessing numbers. (Okay, I'm awful at it.) But for sake of argument, let's say 400 teachers, researchers and scholars from around the world were in Mexico City this week. If each had a take-away moment that advances their teaching or research capabilities, then for them IAMCR was a success.
Because of my teaching-heavy work schedule, I don't do as much research as I once had to do. But I leave here looking at new possibilities for the content analysis and history research that I enjoy.
So, summing up everything, Mexico City: Gracias!