The challenges of getting around

More of the city closes down I guess I had envisioned that the Pope would be travelling between discreet events in Mexico City but in truth he is doing multiple criss-crosses and in the process will have visited many neighborhoods. This is quite wonderful but it effectively closes down this huge metropolis – there are posting of the metro station closings (many, and for long periods) – and major arteries are just simply closed to traffic for a couple of days. This forlorn woman was trying to find a way across this street, as were we.


El Papa is appearing everywhere now! There are concentric rings of security, so large swaths on each side of the streets he’ll travel are closed. Bikes and pedestrians are still being allowed to the barriers, but once you hit them you have a long trip to the nearest crossing.


Retail trade has been largely closed down because streets are empty but these women were trying their best to attract attention.


We were using a combination of bike and foot to try and reach our favorite Lebanese restaurant in the world. In the end we figured out a way to thread through all the barriers. This is the best falafel that’s ever been served, and it was served to us. There were only a handful of other people who had made it through too, and they were all locals.


On the way back, and in a different section of the city, we saw into this business as we were walking by. There was a long line waiting for service and we were curious. It was a custom-mix perfume shop (there are many in Mexico City). We stood in line for almost an hour and a half, attempting broken but humorous communication with people but mostly just soaking in the friendliness and old fashioned service that was going on. Most of the people at the counter who were placing orders were retailers, organized with long written lists. Everything was quite analogue – papers, pencils, carbon paper, and calculators (but fast).


The Pope’s plane landed precisely at 7:30 local time, we saw it flying overhead after the airport had been closed for about half and hour. Here I’ve lifted a photo from the local channel, as he hesitates (perhaps, with a bit of trepidation) for a moment before setting foot in Mexico. Bienvenido, Papa!

Posted in Mexico

6 comments on “The challenges of getting around
  1. Donal says:

    Beth and Jonathan, your being in Mexico City to greet Pope Francis during his visit reminds me of my trip to Lima, Peru, during the visit of Pope John Paul II. The police came to my hotel room at two in the morning and interrogated me at length. They were worried that I might be a disgruntled American priest who had come to Lima to assassinate the Pope. The following morning the American consulate would do nothing to assist me except give me a telephone number so I took refuge with the Maryknoll Fathers so at least there would be someone who would be aware if I should disappear.

  2. Jonathan Sa'adah says:

    I wonder how different it would be in Mexico now if you got into trouble. It’s all such a shadow play. Last night at the airport, Peña looked so smooth and so eager to play up his visibility next to the Pope. His wife looked uncomfortable. I think everyone is expecting Pope Francis to be honest and speak out, and I know he will. I was glad to see that he was not riding in a tiny Fiat and that he had full protection around him. In the Popemobile he’s travelling fast and it’s actually not so exposed as you would think. I noticed, ironically, that it’s built on a Jeep. I wish him safety and admire his willingness to do this, it’s a rough country. Thanks, Donal for your comment. What happened after you took refuge?

  3. Natalie says:

    Just caught up with your Mexico posts and photos so far, Jonathan, and it’s a delight to be seeing it all through your observant eyes. You certainly chose a significant time to be re-visiting Mexico City and I’m sure you’ll have much more to record and say about El Papa’s visit. I can see the security measures are necessary but it’s a pity it makes it so difficult for the innocent pedestrian to get around. Best of luck to you and Beth.

  4. Hattie says:

    Between you and Beth I’m getting quite a good look at an extraordinary event in Mexico City. Thanks.

  5. Anne says:

    That falafel looks so unbelievably good that I’m going to tell my Beirut friends to look at the picture and cry!
    I’m hoping the Pope will be both safe and mouthy. There is so much to be mouthy about these days….
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  6. Chris Hughes says:

    I love seeing your travels, thanks so much for sharing! I think its great that you guys have found place that you enjoy enough to go back to again and again. After much traveling, I learn that I value really getting to know a single place, more than getting just a taste of many places.

    Love the photos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.


20,044 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

custom styled page
How Many Roads? is a book of photographs by Jonathan Sa'adah, available for order, offering an unglossy but deeply human view of the period from 1968 to 1975 in richly detailed, observant images that have poignant resonance with the present. Ninety-one sepia photographs reproduced with an introduction by Teju Cole, essays by Beth Adams, Hoyt Alverson, and Steven Tozer, and a preface by the photographer.
If you'd like more information, please have a look at this page.
There's also signup for a mailing list.
To see more work
To visit my blog

Contact information

All material © 2016 Jonathan Sa'adah no use without written permission