Exploring the Back Roads of Mexico: Things to See while Using Mexico City's Underground System
Worlds Longest Permanent Science Exposition
Station La Raza has a huge transfer corridor with the longest permanent exposition in the world "Tunel de la Ciencia" which by itself has a length of over 600 meters. They display pictures and video of cientific themes like space, animals, microscopic elements, fractals, etc for the people that is transfering to the other line.
You will probably have to use this transfer if you are going to the North Bus Station.
You can even see a pyramid!
When the city constructed line 1, 2 and 3 they found several archeological treasures.
The largest was a strange temple devoted to Ehécatl-Quetzalcoatl, God of the wind, one of the most important gods for the Aztecs and other Pre-Hispanic cultures. The round shrine at the top represents the movement of the wind before rainfall. You can visit this temple in Pino Suarez Station, subway line 2 (the blue one) in the historic downtown.
So, you are in Mexico City and yo have decided to take the subway. That's great! besides being cheap and fast, you can also see lots of things for free while getting to your destination.
Here are some of them:
- Some stations, like Insurgentes, Copilco, Tacubaya have on permanent display large and beautiful murals.
- There is temporal exhibitions of art displayed in several stations. It can be great art or it can suck because the only requirement to display it is ask for permition and be free of political or marketing intention.
- They have theater and live music in several stations. You can check the scheduled presentations in the Metro’s webpage.
- When they were building the different metro lines, there were interesting archeological and paleontological discoveries, from vases to an entire pyramid and some mammoths. They took some items to museums but several are displayed in the metro stations.
- The "Pasillo de la Ciencia" in La Raza Station and the Templo Mayor diorama are two permanent expositions. Check out also great wall art, like Insurgentes Station's Murals.
- There are free internet areas in several stations. You need an ID and you can use it for half an hour. Great way to keep connected when you are moving through the city. Keep in mind it is full of student after school hours.
- On Sundays, you can take your bycicle to the subway.
- There are several programs, like "leer the boleto" when they lend you a book when you go in and you must return it when you go out. You can find bilboards with two-dimensional codes to download sample chapters from several bestseller books.
- Last time I used the subway, they had an hydration campaing where they offer free drinkable water in paper cones to everybody.
- A lot of performance art and happenings occur in the subway. Like the "ride in the metro without pants", or riding with the dead on Dia de Muertos where you find skeleton dolls seated next to you, or suddenly all the people around you pretend to fall sleep as part of a planned performance.
- Check out the billboards. They often have posters of expositions, festivals and theater presentations, some mainstream some underground and more local in nature (and of course they tell you how to get there using the metro). Also, the billboards are used for posting classes or invitation to groups in the area that can be really interesting, from yoga to kundalini sex, you never know what you will find.
You may get a very bad case of "Moctezuma's Revenge"' if you have a bite in the Metro, especially if you have just been a limited time in Mexico and/or are not accustomed to street food.
I would keep away from food stands (buying packaged food and water from commercial brands is OK) unless you are very adventurous and are staying for a very long time to recover.
A whole economy in the underground
It is amazing what you can find inside the metro. There are bookshops, healthfood stores, small grocery stores, lottery booths, "everything at one price" stores, and all kind of food stands. There is even some Domino's Pizza's at several stations!
Take into account that some people spend two or more hours in the subway every day. All these shops have plenty of regular customers.
Personally I don't like to buy anything in the Metro,because it fuels illegal activities (the same mafia that controls this business controls others) and also because I care a little more about copyright than the average metro commuter.
However I've purchased things I really needed and didn't have time to go searching for them elsewhere (like needles or a fanny pack in my way to the airport).
It's up to you really. If you buy anything it would be very cheap but also don't expect much quality.
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You will have an anecdote to tell back home: Street Artists and Salesmen Inside the Train
This is not allowed by the authorities (yeah . . . right), but you will find it anyway.
People performing with a guitar or selling stuff is very common. They hop in a car and give a performance or sales pitch, ask for money or sell you their stuff and then get out in the next station and hop to the next car. You can have a different guy doing different stuff in each stop in your trip.
You will either find this annoying or amusing, but you can't escape it. Take it as it is.
They sell all kind of stuff: needles, school material, toys, pens, candies, etc. but people selling music or video dvds are something especial:
Most of them are blind or pretending to be blind. They enter the subway car with their dark glasses and big speakers adapted to a backpack and start playing music loud enough for everyone in the car to hear. If they sell video dvds they also carry a laptop where they play their dvd – a short and varied sample. They sell you compilations of tropical music, movie themes, Spanish rock, classic rock, this year’s greatest hits, you name it, but they seem to specialize in just one style. After they show you their goods they start their very fast sales pitch and sell their products to the interested customers. All of it before getting to the next station. And all of it illegal of course.
© 2013 Gabriela Hdez