I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to México City twice over the last two years. Interestingly enough in both occasions the dates fell within some of the most important national holidays. Last year, I visited for during El Dia de Los Muertos holiday. This year my visit coincided with Mexico’s celebration of independence.
The whole city was adorned with Mexican flags. From street vendors selling patriotic paraphernalia on every corner to humongous flags covering most government buildings. Mexico really goes all out when it comes celebrating.
However, while the city shined with the colors of celebration, a discreet sorrow lurked amongst many of its citizens. Only a few days before my arrival, an earthquake had shaken the city of Chiapas taking the lives and homes of many. In Mexico City the earthquake was felt but not as strong. Yet, many of my friends and dancers I photographed with shared how they were still in shock by the experience. Some of them mentioned they still panicked at the slightest hint of movement.
Life went on and the city continued with its scheduled celebrations. I photographed around the town with some of the same dancers I met during my previous visit as well as one or two new faces. Mexico had truly stolen my heart on my first visit and I was extremely happy to be back. The warmth of the Mexican people is simply unparalleled.
This visit though, became strongly significant to me not for what I experienced during my time there but because of what happened soon after I left. I landed back in NYC in the morning of September 17th. Just two days later, on Sept 19th, Mexico was struck again by another powerful earthquake. This one however, was felt right through the heart of Mexico City. On the very streets I was photographing just a few days before. My heart sank as soon as I read the news. Immediately, I reached out to all my friends and the dancers I worked with to make sure everyone was ok. Luckily no one was harmed.
Stronger than the terrible news of the earthquake was the impressive response the Mexican people put in place to rescue any and all posible survivors. There was no waiting around for the government to react or for officials to take charge. Everyone ran towards the rubble instead of away from it. I followed the Instagram stories of many of my friends in the area. Their stories and feeds became virtual bulletin boards. They posted information as to where people could go get help. They also advised as to where volunteers could aid rescue workers. I have seriously never seen such a unified front. People caring for each other, saving lives where every minute counted more than ever for those waiting to be rescued.
Once again, Mexico taught me so much about the value of life, pride and country. Their efforts inspired me immensely to create relief efforts when disaster struck my own country of Puerto Rico just one day later. Mexico, is about life. Mexico is indeed the land of the living ! QUE VIVA MEXICO ! QUE VIVA MEXICO, CABRONES !
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