Culture

We’ve All Done A Bit Of PDA But Couples In Mexico City Take PDA To A Whole Other Level

Mexico City is dotted with beautiful parks, squares, and plazas, and more often than not, these green respites from the concrete jungle, are filled with couples getting it on.

Whether they’re sharing an innocent peck on the cheek, full-on making out, or often times, even more, Mexico City has long been called the PDA Capital of the World.

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South of the border, the combined forces of crowded housing, conservative fathers, and high school politics have produced extreme PDA.

So basically, if public displays of affection make you uncomfortable, don’t come to Mexico City. Unlike the United States, there’s no room for pearl clutching here. From Mexico City’s Condesa and Roma neighborhoods to colonial Coyoacan and bougie Polanco, making out in public is a virtual rite of passage for high schoolers and young adults.

But why is it that so many intimate moments play out in the open across the avenues and parks of this megalopolis?

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In a teeming metropolis of 21 million people, where rents are high and family is central, it’s common for children to live well into adulthood with their parents and other relatives. So for a romantic moment away from nosy and sometimes culturally conservative relatives, many couples leave the house – and find a little privacy in public.

“There isn’t any space in my house. There’s much more room in the park.”

Credit: tonozac / Flickr

In Mexico City’s Parque Mexico, I speak with a number of young Mexicans about why making out on park benches is so popular. I might as well ask them why they are wearing clothes. “Everyone does it. It’s not a bad thing,” one 14-year-old boy says, though he insists he doesn’t participate. “Being seen in public isn’t a concern.”

Alexis Mendoza, 22, puts on a mischievous grin when I ask him about his experience with public fajar – a term commonly used in Mexico for making out, but is literally translated as “to swaddle.” His explanation is one I hear over and over again: “There isn’t any space in my house. There’s much more room in the park.”

Housing statistics back up Mendoza’s point. According to national census data, there are two people for every one-bedroom in an average Mexican household. It’s even more cramped in Mexico City, where there are an average of 2.8 people for every bedroom. In other words, not much privacy. With little personal space for young lovers in a typical Mexican home, parks have become an escape from cramped and inhospitable living quarters.

But is it just the size of Mexican households that’s forcing young couples into the open?

For Jorge, 35, and Eduardo, 26, who recently started dating, downtown Mexico City offers an escape from prying, more traditionalist family members.

On a recent warm afternoon, they sat, lips locked, near a fountain in the Alameda Central, one of the city’s oldest and most beautiful parks. On practically every bench around them, other couples did the same.

The lovefest here is remarkably equal opportunity. Gay, straight, old, young. On weekends, graying couples gather in plazas to sway together to live music. At skate parks, teenagers with face piercings hold one another close.

In the Alameda Central on the recent sunny afternoon, two young men dressed in skinny jeans embraced, before one picked the other up off the ground and into his arms.

Some pointed out that they couldn’t bring anybody back to their home because of one person…

I ask two sisters, Alma and Herminia Martinez, both in their mid-20s, if it would be acceptable for them to bring a boyfriend home. The horror that ripples through their faces suggests this is unquestionably prohibited. “Why not?” I ask. Alma is blunt: “Los papás. They set the rules of the house, and they’re old-fashioned, especially with daughters,” she says. “No bringing boys home.”

It’s still a machismo society, after all. And even if an individual family might not object, the power of gossip when a neighbor sees a young man accompanying a young woman home is not to be underestimated.

Another factor interviewees point to is the simple fact that it doesn’t cost anything to hook up in public. Going to the movies costs money. Cafés cost money. Dinner costs money. Few young people have cars. A park bench, on the other hand, is free.

PDA is so common across Mexico that some cities have started passing laws to regulate it.

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In 2009, the city of Guanajuato passed a law that outlawed some forms of PDA. The law was rejected by so many people that just a few days later the government suspended the new regulations.

The city of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, took a different approach. The city decriminalized all forms of PDA, even public sex, in a bid to protect couples from extortion from local police. Now, police can only cite people if someone makes a complaint.

All this PDA is part of a concept that many people cite as a common Mexican characteristic: doblevida.

a double life. There’s one life you have with your family, and another you have with your friends. Sparkling clean sons at home are rarely as upstanding in the park.

Still, each person I speak with tells me that society is changing. “Everything is more open now. It’s changed muchisimo in the last generation,” Ríos Contreras says. “It’s definitely more acceptable nowadays to bring someone home than before,” though many parents will still employ anti-make-out tactics, like a rule of chiflando y aplaudiendo – mandatory continuous whistling and clapping – when a young couple is in a bedroom.

I ask why things are changing. “The world is opening up,” she says. “The Internet gives kids access to answers to questions they had but didn’t want to ask their parents.”

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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