At the Crowded Zocalo, an Anti-Pena Protest

Last night there was a gigantic protest in the Zocalo, Latin America’s largest open square, near city hall in downtown Mexico City. Thousands gathered beneath what must be the word’s largest Mexican flag to protest against presidential Pena, saying he had cheated to get on the ballot. I was not able to read the many detailed placards but my waitress in very broken English explained it all to me this morning at breakfast. It’s hard to describe the throng here….there must have been tens of thousands of people and I think at least half of them were selling things…all manner of just about anything.

I passed vendors roasting corn on little charcoal grills, others cooking sweet potatoes and bananas which I was convinced to purchase, and two chaps using a small propane torch to roast popcorn, which I also bought. Then the vendors who laid out their wares…a popular item here are tiny little wooden gizmos that look like grasshoppers that hop around and are somehow controlled by the clever man, but it’s hard to figure out how.

Then another perennially popular Mexican attraction, the clowns. Their method is to seize on people and mock them, especially people, like me, who try to blend in. No way! “Speak English?” they taunt. And when I tried to avoid it, they’d get a big laugh out of the circle by making fun. Everyone was a target–and the funny thing is that people wanted to be singled out, yet they would bashfully hide when the clowns would attack.

The city buzzed into the night, with my room facing the street with the windows open, it was all coming in. At 5:30 am I heard a lot of banging and discovered that the garbagemen were there, sorting through every can removing cardboard and recycling, and cleaning up very tidily after themselves. The trucks are heaped with the stacks of corrogated paper, and are manned by five guys. They reach into the cans without gloves to sort it all out.