People of Mexico
There are some pretty colorful professions here in this part of the world. It always makes me smile to see most of these personajes because I come from a country where you don't see these jobs. If you visit Mexico City or stay here for any length of time, you are sure to come across most of these people at some time or other. Here are a selection.
Perhaps one of the most well-known types of musicians in the world, mariachi bands can be found hanging around Plaza Garibaldi looking for work, in cantinas, at special events or even at a birthday party. We sometimes go to the Cantina Nº Uno where they serenade diners on Sundays from 4 pm onwards. Or look out for them at Villa Maria in Polanco. And don't expect to see them struggling to keep their enormous hats on as they crowd around tables. They leave them at home.
2. Tortilla makers
Tortillas are one of the staple foods of Mexicans so you can see tortilla makers and fillers around the streets and in eating places. They use a special machine which prepares the dough, cuts out the rounds and then they are cooked on both sides.
3. Shoe shiners
There are thousands of shoe-shiners around the city who make a living from polishing up dusty shoes. And if you happen to be the one getting your shoes spruced up, then it's the perfect moment to catch up on the latest news while flicking through the newspaper. When these professionals aren't shining shoes, they may even be watching TV...
4. Mounted policemen
Before they renovated the Alameda Park, you could always see mounted policemen patrolling the park and giving information to tourists. They can sometimes be spotted riding through Chapultepec Park if you're lucky. The horses are specially trained and thankfully aren't spooked by noises, traffic or gunshots.
4. Taxi drivers
Mexico City taxi drivers can be some of the most dangerous drivers on earth so you have been warned. Their mission seems to be to get you from A to B with as much adrenaline in the ride as possible, even if your priorities were to get to your destination in one piece and preferably on time. However, there are many normal ones who will give you a guided tour on the way or delight you with stories to keep you entertained. Safe taxis can be found at sitios, a kind of taxi rank. VW Beetle bugs are not the safest or the most comfortable taxis to hail down. Check out how many rosaries, saints or rabbit's feet they have hanging up in the front and you'll have a pretty good idea of how safe a driver he is. Obviously, the fewer the better. If you want to get around the centre of the City, you can use one of the pedal taxis... a new "green" method of transport.
6. Street food vendors
Eating is one of Mexico's national hobbies and eating out in the street is definitely a national past-time. If you wander around the streets, you can see people eating at any time of day... and cheaply. So it stands to reason that there is an unbelievably high number of people whose job is to prepare food for the eaters. You can see all kinds of food stands around the city.
7. Organ grinders
One of the very characteristic sounds of Mexico City are the haunting tunes churned out by organ grinders making their living in the streets. It is a Government-recognized profession and they all wear special uniforms. Some of the organs, first brought by German immigrants to Mexico City in the 1930s, are still in good condition but the majority have become so out-of-tune that the only grinding they do now is on your ears. In fact, you are more likely to tip them to stop playing!
8. Charros (Mexican cowboys)
You might think that Mexico City wouldn't be the place to see charros, typical Mexican cowboys. But one of the biggest charrerías is along Constituyentes and you can sometimes see them cantering through the woods nearby. They also perform their typical shows during the year which are advertised in many places.
9. Ice vendors
Because a lot of food and drinks are sold outside on the streets, ice is needed to keep them cold. In Mexico City, if you go out early in the morning, you will see men with tricycles delivering solid blocks of ice to the stalls or leaving them on street corners to be picked up by vendors. They use long metal tongs to drag them off the tricycle.
For some reason, lots of people keep dogs in Mexico City but don't have time or don't like taking them for walks. No problem, There is a whole band of professionals who will come to your house, pick up your doggie and walk him down the street or in the park with anywhere between 7 and 17 more dogs. It's hilarious to see dogs of all shapes and sizes, in a huge pack together, squeezing along the pavements.
I'm not sure if bodyguards are all to do with security or if they aren't a bit of status symbol too here. I'm not bothered by either. I would find them suffocating. Black or white Chargers with smoked windows annoyingly keep everyone at a distance from the car they're protecting. Flashing lights, bullying tactics, black-suited men with guns and arms outside the car looking as if they are about to jump out and shoot a round of bullets into anyone who gets in the way.... as you can imagine, I do not take photos of them. I wouldn't risk it. And many shops and businesses have armed guards standing at the door. It takes a while to get used to them all when you first come to live here.
12. Aztec dancers and soul purifiers
This is Aztec land and especially in the centre you will find Aztec dancers, decked out in feathers and wearing rattling seed-pods around their ankles, doing sweat-inducing dances to wild drum beating. Some chaman-type Indians will perform ceremonies with smoky incense and sprigs of wilting plants around those wanting to purify their souls. I've seen long queues of people waiting to be purified so I'm not sure if that says something about life in this City.