A history of Mexico City made of stones

The stones do not offend; any
covet. they just ask
love to all, and ask
love even to Nothing…

And if some of them
they go crestfallen, or they go
embarrassed, is that
something human will do…

Cesar Vallejo

I have lived above all in the south of Mexico City, losing my way every day, I am a loving accomplice of its neighborhoods, here we do not gather all Mexicans. Calle de Regina is an example, there was a neighborhood there, they were two beautiful and dilapidated buildings.

I was invited to the table of those who lived there, a lady from Michoacán served me exquisite corundas dipped in green sauce, I also saw oil spill from a good chorizo ​​from Durango or some burnt garlic jump out of the pot while another woman from Cuetzalan cooked acamayas .

Entering that place was like entering a Buñuel movie. But the capital of the country, beyond its inhabitants, has other stories to tell us. It is impossible to pay attention to all of them, you can only raise your antennas and catch the ones you come across.

I participate in a project, which I will have the pleasure of sharing with you later, is linked to the south of the city and the lava spill of the Xitle volcano.

In a previous text I told you about such a surprising event, let’s remember: it took place more than seventeen hundred years ago, and as a consequence, eighty square kilometers of the south, of what is now called CDMX, were covered with lava for more than ten years.

The settlers then left the region. When the catastrophe passed, the red turned into black and the area was dressed in stone. Years later, great characters of the 20th century, such as Luis Barragán, met her. The stones touched Luis’ soul and he tried to limit his intervention in them.

Perhaps he read César Vallejo’s poem and made up new words like cacti, cacomixtles and lava tunnels. But the reality is that since then the destruction of the place began. I quote what he said in his 1980 Pritzker Prize acceptance speech: “Wandering among the lava cracks, protected by the shadow of imposing walls of living rock, I suddenly discovered, oh delightful surprise!, small, secret, green valleys surrounded and limited by the most capricious, beautiful and fantastic stone formations, which had been sculpted in the rock by the powerful breath of prehistoric gales…

In a vast expanse of lava south of Mexico City, I decided, enraptured by the beauty of that ancient volcanic landscape, to create some gardens that would humanize, without destroying, such a wonderful spectacle…”

In that place are today: the Jardines del Pedregal neighborhood, the University City with the murals of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Chávez Morado and the wall covered with natural stone by Juan O’Gorman, in the Central Library of the UNAM, among others.

If you want to know more about this story, inquire about Perla Krauze’s recent exhibition at the University Museum of Science and Art “Nonsite. El Pedregal revisited”. I share with you two questions that this artist asked herself: What was happening in the area before the Xitle eruption, you know? Why is El Pedregal important for the city?

She proposes, from art, to revalue the importance of preserving what remains of almost extinct ecosystems, they continue to provide us with services in favor of life on the planet.

As you can see, this city is similar to the neighborhood of Calle de Regina and as Rius said: “You cannot live as if beauty did not exist”.

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