After months of preparation and research, we finally left San Francisco flying to Mexico City. The plane was mostly filled with excited librarians heading to Mexico’s capitol for a conference of Art Librarians called ARLIS. California was in its glory and after all the rain we saw whole parts of the state covered with brilliantly colored wildflowers. Even from our lofty perch I was surprised by the beauty we saw. As we headed over the San Joaquin Valley, we witnessed something remarkable. Far off in the distance was the full length of the Sierra Nevada living up to their name thickly covered in brilliant white snow. And in the foreground was the re-emerging Tulare Lake which had been drained dry for agriculture years ago. The results of this year’s Biblical rain and snow was stunning to see from our plane of happy librarians.

After a great flight we had a great dinner with Walker’s friend Rosa and her sister Ana and mother Paulina. It was nice to arrive in Mexico among friends.

Part of our first day here was getting ready for the rest of the trip. Permissions to photograph were still coming in. Scheduling had to be set up. Logistics had to be arranged. We finally headed out into the streets in search of libraries and all things Mexican. The Postal Palace Library was our quirky first stop. It was built in 1907 and housed the most remarkable Post Office building that I have ever seen and is dedicated to all things Postal. We then walked by the Library of the Congress of Mexico which I had just received permission to photograph the interior earlier this morning. The building was originally part of a Poor Clares convent founded in the 16th century, but the outside was covered with graffiti today.

We continued down Tacuba Street and was surprised by the large number of bookstores and camera stores on this street. We quickly fell in love with the richness and depth of Mexican culture in this remarkable place. We eventually came upon the Templo Mayor which is vast archeological site in middle of the city. Here the long history of Mexico comes alive. We went through the doors of another remarkable bookstore and had late lunch at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Aztec ruins and the cathedral literally built by Cortez on top of their civilization.

The historic Zócalo is one of the largest central plazas of any city in the world. We strolled through this space at sunset and was impressed by the large number of local people enjoying themselves with their families in the beautiful light. Walking back to our hotel gave us even more reason to appreciate and want to know more about this remarkable place.


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  1. Irma B

    All the best to you two (and friends) in your Mexico trip.

  2. frankgardener

    Bob and Ellen > > Of course the Biblioteca Palafoxiana in Puebla is right up there at the top of your list. We loved Puebla. > > I highly recommend the Instituto de Arts Graficas de Oaxaca also. > > And, while it’s not a library, I extremely recommend the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Oaxaca. It houses the collection of pre-Columbian art gathered by the artist Tamayo. He collected the art, which was/is being looted and sold, so that it would be held for Mexicans and Mexico. What knocked me out is that Tamayo organized the museum AS AN ARTIST — not an archaeologist, not an anthropologist, not an academician — an artist. It’s so beautiful. > > Perhaps you know Oaxaca already. We lived there for 4 months a few years ago. I now read about it every day. From what I can tell, direct flights and AirB&B have had an impact. > > Living in Mexico was an education for me in beauty and in humanity. The United States has better sewage systems, but in every other way I prefer Mexico — and not least for the respect Mexicans pay older people, wow. > > I look forward to reading about your latest journey. > > Greg > > > > > 


    • Good to hear from you and sorry for the late response. It turned out this trip totally sucked all my time. Oaxaca was wonderful and I now understand why it is such a draw. My other favorite city was Guanajuato. Crazy geography, incredible history, great culture and no foreigners. I’m surprised it took me so long to discover Mexico. What a find and I hope to spend an extended time there like you did. Hope to see you sometime soon.

  3. Marcia Schneider

    Loved this post and your continued work with librarians, also your descripti

  4. Bob and Ellen,
    And once again, wonderful photos and stories. Have a great time and can’t wait for more to come. Love Tina and ken

  5. Once again, wonderful photos and stories. can’t wait for more to come. Have fun and enjoy the travels….. Love Tina and ken

  6. Terry Young

    Love your comments and the pics are fabulous. Looking forward to the next update. Kitty & Terry

  7. David Madson

    Terrific post, Robert! I know you love bicycling. Check out the Mexico City bike tours. When you return to SF, consider doing a photo lecture at the Mechanics Institute Library or the Commonwealth Club. Best, David Madson

    • Good to hear from you. We definitely need to go back and spend time bicycling and not photographing. Also, I like your suggestion of giving a talk at the Mechanics Institute Library or the Commonwealth Club. Just before our trip, we saw an excellent discussion at the Commonwealth Club. I know they do many different types of talks so maybe there will be a place for the Global Library project. I’ll let you know. Please let me know if you have any names of people that I should contact. Thanks and hope to see you soon.

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