Day 21: Mexico City is sinking

Overland miles: 2549 Tacocount: 43 Days without Tea: 0

One of the first things the visitor to Mexico City notices, after the insane volume levels Jovian has already written about, is that everything is just a little bit lop-sided. A bit wonky if you like.

If you look along the skyline you’ll see church domes leaning like the tower of Pisa and buildings of all ages and states of repair lurching to one side. Even the city’s grand cathedral is sliding into the ground on its western side, as if struggling under the weight of all its lavish ornaments.

The reason for this, is that the Aztecs in all their wisdom, decided to build their capital city on a swamp. Not the most sensible of ideas at first glance, but the story goes that it was the place they’d seen an eagle, snake in mouth, sitting on a cactus (the symbol that’s now on Mexico’s flag) and this was the sign that they were looking for to build the city they called Tenochtitlan. A system of ingeniously devised canals and floating gardens (chinampas) provided transport and crops for the city’s inhabitants and all was going well (unless you were one of the unlucky residents selected for regular human sacrifice to please the gods) until the Spanish arrived in 1519. The weighty colonial structures they built over the top of the city they had so effectively ravaged proved too heavy for soft soil and the city started sinking…

That sinking feeling…

No, it’s not a dodgy camera angle, the walls really are that wonky

These days new buildings are being constructed with special foundations however, with the rest of the city slowly sinking around them (current estimates are that it has sunk 10 metres in the last 100 years) you wonder what the skyline will look like in 2113.

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