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Mexico City (2014)

I’m documenting life in Mexico City from June 21-29, 2014. The goal is to cover the culture and state of a city like DF while comparing it to the fervor for its national team competing during the World Cup in Brazil. To do this I will visit several barrios, like Tepito, and find out if life really does revolve around futbol, or if it’s just a distraction.

DAY 1: June 21, 2014

My first full day in Mexico City was a success. The people are friendly and receptive to me making photos of them. I only had a problem with one person, but Luis (our fixer) put a quick end to any issue the man had with me and my cameras. So far, I’m impressed with Luis’ special brand of chilango diplomacy.

Alex Horton, a journalist out of Washington, D.C., has joined me on this project, and we’ve started to see the relationship people here have with futbol and religion. For many in Mexico City going to church or going to the local pitch to play with friends is an important part of their lives. We’re going to explore this more tomorrow.

DAY 2: June 22, 2014

We decided to follow today’s matches by visiting places where Korean and American ex-pats might be. In a Korean restaurant, about a block from the Angel de la Independencia, we found a group watching their team lose to Algeria 4-2, and then at an American Legion we found Americans supporting their team despite a bad internet connection and a 2-2 final against Portugal.

It has been interesting to see so many different nationalities represented in Mexico City. I find that I — even with my Hispanic background — have to flush out the notion that only Mexicans would live here.

We stopped by a park to get shots of people playing soccer, and while I was able to get some good shots of adults on the pitch I wasn’t allowed to get any images of the kids. Alex and I didn’t understand at first, but when a coach explained that parents were worried that the photos might be used to blackmail them or kidnap their children we realized the real danger some in the city deal with every day.

DAY 3: June 23, 2014

Today was a long and productive day. It seemed like the entire city crammed in to watch Mexico square off against Croatia on a huge screen at the Zocalo, the historic downtown plaza. After the crucial 3-1 victory, people rushed to the Angel de la Independencia to celebrate. Traffic was shut down as a sea of red, white and green chanted its way around the Angel. I can’t remember ever witnessing so many people happy about the same thing in my life. Mexico City is something else.

DAY 4: June 24, 2014

My fourth day in Mexico City had me visiting two very different places. We first traveled to the Basilica, where Catholics from all over the world visit the shrine dedicated to the Virgen de Guadalupe. People walked on their knees to give thanks and ask the Virgin for favors. Later that day we visited the Tepito barrio. The neighborhood famous for being one of the roughest in the city gave us a series of great stories that we will follow up on tomorrow.

DAY 5: June 25, 2014

It’s always difficult to go to a place as famous as Teotihuacan and come away with original photos. The truth is that anyone with a camera can get a breathtaking shot of pyramids and statues there. So I decided to capture the reality of the place. Yes, the pyramids are iconic, but the people who sell their wares and the tourists who try to politely dodge them are also part of the picture.

After climbing the major pyramids of Teotihuacan, we set out to see the country side outside of Mexico City. We met some interesting people that turned out to be great interviews for our stories. I was also introduced to eating ant eggs and red worms. I have to say, it was delicious.

DAY 6: June 26, 2014

A lead on where we could find immigrants traveling up through Mexico City on trains called the Beast didn’t pan out. To add to rough day, I’ve been sick for the past 24 hours. We did find a great story in one of the oldest fire stations in Mexico City and I started taking portraits of people I find on the streets. I will add to this a little more on my last two days in the city.

DAY 7: June 27, 2014

I went to the northern suburbs of Mexico City to find Central American migrants who try to catch a ride on “The Beast,” slow moving trains that move up through Mexico to Laredo, Texas. At the Lecheria train station we found a community that had banded together to keep out the migrants, who they said brought drugs and problems to their neighborhoods, and men from Honduras that were desperately trying to jump onto any train.

DAY 8: June 28, 2014

I started the day on the canals of Xochimilco and I ended my last full day in Mexico City documenting a LGBT event. Today only proved what I had learned on my first trip to one of the largest cities in the world: Anything is possible in Mexico City.

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