Rise of the Machines

They’re after my jobs, the ba****ds. Not the eastern Europeans. Nor the Indians. Nor the growing population of Latin American emigres. Those guys, up there. The machines. The dreaded, job eating machines. They are the new competition. And they are tough. Relentless. Remorseless. It’s a new world, and they are determined to make it their world. We feeble humans are having to adapt in order to compete. The 21st century resume will need to be reworked if we are to stand a chance.

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A Monument To Colour

I’ve visited the Monument of the Revolution a few times over the last few months. I cast my eyes over the area during the renovations, dubious as to whether it would be finished in time for the revolution’s centenary. I stared in wonder as it neared completion, within the time frame required. And I had a good look around it, in it and up it once it had reopened to the public.

Yesterday I passed by and noticed it all lit up in many changing colours, with a fair sized number of people wandering about. The fountain puts on quite a light show, even if it isn’t quite a rival for the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was still open to the public for trips up the elevator to the exterior viewing areas too. And it was just begging me to get my camera out to let my lens soak up some of those bright hues. I’ve added the photos to my monument set – click here.

Not everyone likes the new glass elevator that ploughs a course right up the centre of the monument, but I think it looks fine. Not everyone appreciates the expense of some of the bicentenary/centenary projects, but this one, in my opinion, was money well spent.

At A Crossroads


Inside The Revolution

Following on from last Friday’s post, when I went to the renovated but still closed off Monument to the Revolution, I today managed to get inside the place. And what a fantastic job they’ve done. It’s clean, looking like new and a pleasant place to be. By handing over 40 pesos, you get a ride up the new glass elevator to the interior of the dome, where you can then make your way up and down narrow staircases to the exterior viewing area.

The entry fee also gets you into the spruced up museum underneath the monument, which has plenty to keep you interested for an hour or so. With a cafeteria tucked off to one side – I still think they should have an outside coffee plaza though. If the place attracts lots of visitors, and it should, then they’ll want a drink and snack. Either the monument’s management provide it, or the ambulantes will move in. Click here to see my photos on Flickr.

Railings and Riots


Ready To Revolt

I had my doubts, I really did. Just a month ago the Monument to the Revolution and specifically the area around it, was looking far from ready for the big day. Which is tomorrow. I stopped past again today, and…..well blow me down with a feather! Finished. Or very almost. There’s no reason to think they can’t get the last few cracks between the paving slabs filled in before home-time.

The area immediately surrounding the monument is still closed off though. I did try and discreetly join a bunch of people who were being shown around, but an eagle eyed security guard noticed the extra person shuffling in….there’s no missing a 6 foot plus white chap I’m afraid. I was quickly ejected from the group and left to circle the monument from the wrong side of the barriers. Still, the whole place opens up to the public on Monday.

A lot of people have been grumbling for a long time about the amount of money being spent on the bicentenary/centenary celebrations, and although I don’t always agree with them, I do well understand their point. But the money spent on this project in my opinion is well worth while. Although as ever I justify the decision to spend money doing something, not the process of spending it – often involving excess, nepotism, corruption and waste. The monument is a massive and significant landmark of the city and a permanent fixture, which differentiates it from the parades, pyrotechnics and shows that have been put on, all of which are temporary.

From what I can see, they have done a fabulous job. It’s made the whole plaza and structure clean, bright, attractive and a hundred times more impressive to the eye. There’s a glass elevator which I assume is going to take visitors up to the inner staircase and onto a balcony or platform. Hopefully the museum below the monument will have been given an equally spectacular make-over. It contains the remains, I think, of Pancho Villa. I could be wrong, though.

But that’s the problem the monument has had in recent years. It was better viewed from a distance, where the dirt, decay, graffiti and shady characters that loitered around it were at a safe distance. It hasn’t been a ‘must see’ place for a long time, and there wasn’t much in the tourist books to tell you about it and the museum.

It should now be one of the top visitor sites in the city, up there with the Angel, the Anthropoligical museum, the Casa Azul in Coyoacan, the National Palace and Bellas Artes. A lot of the surrounding buildings are government owned and in good nick. A few others have been given a new coat of paint. But there are still a lot of buildings which need some attention. Hopefully the extra visitors that are coming in this direction will mean a little extra money for the neighborhood. The regeneration of Mexico City continues. Click here to see the photos I took of the monument and area today.

Tour Unlimited


The Revolution Extravaganza

The Zocalo has hosted some spectacular shows in its time, and over the last couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to see the 2009 Independence/Revolution Days Sound and Light show and this years Independence Day event. A week ago we saw them putting up the stages and lights for another show, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Revolution.

We went to see it last night, although if you missed it, no big deal. It’s being put on at 9pm every night till, I believe, the 23rd. You should try and see it before then – it’s the most spectacular display of lights, fireworks and dancing they’ve done yet. It really is a proper show.

At a cost, of course. I’ve read it has taken the best part of 270 million pesos out of the city’s coffers, so it wasn’t a cheap production. At least, I suppose, it doesn’t look like a show put together on a shoestring. It does give value for money. But the question is, again, should the money have been spent elsewhere.

I guess bicentenary and centenary celebrations don’t come around often, but the projects, shows and other related financial outlays are rather stacking up. But anyway….the money has been spent, so if you’re in DF make the expense that bit more worthwhile and go see it. And click here to see the rest of my photos.

A Meeting Of Metals


Bicentenario – Revolutionary Train


The train is a big symbol of the revolution in Mexico, so it seems fitting that the powers that be decided to plaster some metro trains in revolutionary colours. It’s difficult to get a whole train in a shot, so this video clip will have to suffice. As the metro speeds up, so the details disappear, but I like the green white and red colour scheme.


Revolution In Progress

To say they are working feverishly is an understatement. Having finished most of the Independence Day works late (those that actually are now finished!) the government seems intent on making sure that at least the icon of the Revolution, the grand monument in the image below, will have its renovations completed in time for Revolution Day in mid November. I am, genuinely and not sarcastically, hopeful.

I also sincerely hope that they open to the public the staircase and viewing platform at the top of the structure. I’m sure there will be some interesting views. I also noticed that they seem to be pedestrianising a lot of the surrounding area too. Good job! Behind the monument, as per the photo, there’s quite a bit of open space. Just enough, if you ask me, for a replica of the Camera Obscura that turned up in Bournemouth back in 1999.

Perhaps a more discreet single decker building, in Revolution colours, would do better. But with all the chairs and tables outside for the sipping of tea and gulping of coffee. I wouldn’t even be upset if they got Starbucks to do it. For photos of the work in progress, and those of Torre Insignia from yesterdays post, click here.

Revolutionary Speed


Pesos and Revolutions

The last few days of 2009 are ticking away, and 2010 fast approaches. Next year is a big one for Mexico. Two hundred years since Independence. And one hundred years since the revolution. The countdown clock in the Zocalo has been ticking for months, Ruta 2010 signs have gone up everywhere to mark, well, various routes. And preparations for massive celebrations are well underway.

Including, not surprisingly, commemorative banknotes. Here’s the new 100 peso note, celebrating the 100 years since the revolution. I got my first one today. You’ll notice the train – it’s very much a symbol of the event. There is a big train sitting outside the Monument to the Revolution in the Centro Historico, and if you watched the video I did of the Sound and Light show, you’ll notice that it ends with the shadow of a passing train. Bit weird really – it all suggests that Mexicans think trains are just fabulous. Yet, aside from city metro, the Copper Canyon line and a tourist line to a Tequila producer near Guadalajara, there aren’t any passenger trains here.

I don’t have one of the new 200 pesos  on me, although they’ve been out for a while. Off the top of my head, I’m guessing the 200 peso note celebrates the 200 years of independence. Just a hunch. by the way, it turns out that Adobe’s Photoshop recognises banknotes when you try and scan them in, and refuses to open the image. Quite clever. Took me at least 15 seconds to find the necessary crack. It’s not illegal to reproduce Mexican bank notes anyway. And besides, I did add ‘sample’ watermarks.