Everytime that I am unfortunate to have to see Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ugly mug, I am left with the feeling that I’ve seen the Right Hononourable Member for the 19th Century somewhere before. Somewhere different. And this week, it came to me. I saw it first in Mexico City, the crushed head of the Angel of Independence. The original head, that fell to earth in a quake in the 50s. The resemblance is uncanny. That they are both icons of independence is almost a little eerie. Now, if someone could just give Rees-Mogg a gentle shove and knock him off his pedestal, we’d have a full set of similarities.
This week’s flash back is of the Angel of Independence. Well, her head. Her original head. Which is rather hidden away in a small room in the Centro Historico in Mexico City. Badly damaged (ie squashed) when the angel was brought crashing down to earth in an earthquake in the 50’s, her head was removed and replaced with a shiny new one.
Mexico City, and of course the Pacific coast of the country, had a pretty good shaking the other day. There’s a video doing the rounds on social networks of the Angel of Independence during the quake. I’ve been up on the balcony at the feet of the angel. It’s scary enough at the best of times. I wouldn’t want to be there when she’s dancing to the tune of a temblor.
The poor angel has been a victim of quakes before. I wrote a post quite a long time back about my search for the fallen angel – it came off its pedestal during a big quake in the 1950’s. I did find it in the end. Well, her head. I think they may have simply patched up and polished the rest of her. The photo below shows the fruits of my search. Click here to see the other few shots I got.
Last year I left a comment on a blog, which told a brief story about the Angel of Independence and a Spanish Matador. Someone had mentioned in the comments that this was in fact the second angel to sit up there, after the original was destroyed having fallen from the column in a pretty large earthquake.
It isn’t actually a new angel. The original was restored and replaced. Although, months later, I happened to come across that post again and find myself corrected by a later visitor to the blog. Partially anyway.
It turns out that the head of the angel was replaced as the first had been damaged beyond repair, and now sits in a museum. But what wasn’t mentioned, was where. Last month I wrote about my vertigo inducing trip up to the balcony of the angel, which got a comment with more info on the whereabouts of the head. But web searches still didn’t turn up a definitive location.
I asked around and a student came up with a web site, which gave me a more exact location to search. And search I did yesterday afternoon, and I found the head, tucked inside a dark stone lobby of an old colonial building. I can see why a new head was ordered. I took a few photos, which you can see on Flickr – click here. And I have added the location to my Distrito Federal map.
The photo above isn’t the most spectacular I’ve ever taken. It’s perhaps not even obvious as to what it is at first glance. It’s the view you get from the top of the Angel of Independence looking down. A long way down….
I don’t much like heights. And the Angel’s balcony isn’t the best place to be if you don’t like heights. The ledge is very narrow. Although what I really didn’t like is the fact that, with people behind and in front of you, you can’t move. The choice of returning down is taken away from you. If they hadn’t been there, I’d have been happier! I’d have gotten more photos too.
Sure, there’s a railing to keep you in, but it still looks a long way down, and accidents happen. And a fall from this distance never has a pleasant ending. In fact there was a lady up there with me who can testify to that from personal experience.
But most of all, I shouldn’t have looked down. I’ve got a camera with a flip screen, and I didn’t make use of it! Heights give me the heebejeebies. The most creepy memory I have of 9/11 wasn’t of planes crashing and buildings collapsing, which feel more Hollywood than Al Qaeda with the passing of time. It’s of the shots of people standing right at the edges of the holes blown into the buildings.
I sometimes wonder if a single one of them thought of Alain Robert, the French ‘Spiderman’ building climber, and thought of giving it a go. A hell of an initiation into the world of climbing. And he pretty much exclusively climbs in an upward direction – not a good direction that September morning. But did any of them think of it?
It’s not that I avoid heights though. If I see a tall building, I feel the urge to go up it in fact. The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar, Torre Major and Sears tower….although I’m not convinced I’d step out onto the new glass box they’ve put into the latter. Althought the freakiest building I’ve ever been to the top of is the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, where the glass windows slant outwards, which play optical tricks on your mind!
I like climbing mountains too. I’ve fine with them. I think it’s all about being in control of a situation. How do I describe it? Like this perhaps. I have no problem jumping on a motorbike and riding at a 1000mph. But I won’t ride pillion at more than 20mph before insisting I get off. I prefer to be in control of the situation. I don’t trust people….!
Meh. Everyone has a least one little paranoia.
I’ve taken a million photos of the Angel of Independence (map) over the years. You just feel obliged to take out the camera and snap off a few shots every time you go past it. I usually end up deleting them all these days – I’ve not captured in a long time a new angle, a shot I haven’t taken a hundred times already, one that is worth saving.
But I do now have a new set of Angel photos on Flickr, taken yesterday, which you can see by clicking here. I finally did get some new shots. Firstly, because I have a new camera with a whopping 30x lens on it….have I mentioned that I’ve got a new camera? I must have…
Secondly, because after five years of living here and walking past this icon of the city, I finally got there early enough, with sufficient spare time, to go up the spiral stairway and get a view of the city from the balcony at the top of the column, at the Angel’s feet. It’s free, and you can clamber up the 45 odd metres of cramped stairwell too if you can get there before 1pm.
I didn’t capture as many photos from the top as I’d have liked. Nor did I get to test out my zoom lens either. In fact the photos are distinctly average. Such is life. There is a reason. That’s another story. For tomorrow perhaps.