In April of the year 2002, I embarked on an adventure that would change my life. I participated in a student exchange between my Montreal’s Concordia University and the UNAM in Mexico City. I was completing a Linguistics degree, but had several optional credits left to take. I had already made a couple of trips to Latin America and my Spanish was getting decent, and I was very interested in Latin American history, politics and economics (still am!). So after filling out the paperwork, applying for bursaries, getting a new passport, and getting a Mexican Student Visa, off I went! I spent almost 6 months in Mexico City, in the Estudios Latinoamericanos program at the UNAM, improving my Spanish as I went. Memorably, the ill-fated coup in Venezuela against Chávez happened just a few days after I arrived. The faculty of Filosofía y Letras (which is where I had my classes) became very active in preparing posters and protests and information about the coup, and local Mexican media also kept close tabs on the situation. I clearly remember that CNN, however, barely mentioned it, other than to mention how the U.S. recognized the new “interim” president.
Also memorable about my semester in Mexico is that I met my wonderful wife Reina there (well, here, as I’m actually in Mexico City right now). And now, 11 years and 2 wonderful boys later, we went for a visit back to C.U. (Ciudad Universitaria or the University City), the massive campus in the south of the city. The campus is a World Heritage Site, and for good reason. We did the same walk I used to do when I went to school there: we started at Copilco metro, and then walked to the Faculty of Medicine. There were hundreds of students flowing towards the metro; classes must have just let out for the day for them. The University is one of the biggest in the world in terms of enrolment, with over 330,000 students last year. We then walked to Las Islas (the Islands), the name given to a large green space near many of the main faculties. I took some pictures of the various murals found on many of the buildings, including the impressive murals on the Faculty of Medicine and the even more impressive murals on the four sides of the main Library building. Then, we did a quick tour visit to the gates of the Estadio Olímpico, the stadium which hosted the 1968 Olympic Games. A beautiful mural by Diego Rivera covers the one side of the stadium. I saw a few fútbol matches there when I was a student, and I will forever be a Puma at heart. I even painted my face for a match, and heartily sang the team song along with thousands of other Mexicans:
¡GOYA! ¡GOYA! ¡CACHUN, CACHUN, RA, RA! ¡CACHUN, CACHUN, RA, RA! ¡GOYA! ¡¡UNIVERSIDAD!!
I had a lot of fun at the UNAM, and it was great to be able to visit again. I had planned on walking all the way back to metro Universidad to take some pictures of the large mural there as well, but the the clouds looked heavy with rain, as they are almost every evening at this time of year, so we hailed a taxi. Luckily we got one quickly, because it started pouring not more than one minute after we got in the taxi! Here are some pictures of our little tour of C.U.