Things That Matter

Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

When we think about Airbnb, we usually think about holidays. Who hasn’t used an Airbnb? Or, at least, who hasn’t at least thought about using an Airbnb? After all, there are so many benefits to booking an Airbnb: you can reserve a spot that suits you – all through an app – and you can directly communicate directly with the owner of your temporary home. Heck, you can even opt in to living with said owner, and getting to know the real niche, hidden gems of a new location. The fact that your feedback on the accuracy of their listing hangs over their head means that Airbnb owners generally have to be accountable. But, not all is well when it comes to the world of Airbnb. Or, should we say, Airbnb is what’s not right, in some places of the world.

Mexico City has really been feeling the impact of gentrification at the hands of Airbnb.

Instagram / @2kadin1sohbet

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about gentrification. Because to be honest, it mostly sounds like a fancy word real estate agents use to convince people to buy up property. And, that’s not too far from the truth. Gentrification is the process where an area – most commonly neighborhoods – become more pricey. This can happen through the introduction of local amenities, property refurbishment and development, or even just simply an increase of demand for housing in a particular area. Most of the time, it’s a combination of these things that feed gentrification. And while this is great for people who own property in gentrified neighborhoods, this is less great for the poor, who eventually get pushed out of the place that they call home.

Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers.

Instagram / @kirstiwinnberg

Where Mexico City is concerned, this has meant that those fortunate – or, wealthy – enough to own property and land have seized on the opportunity that is Airbnb. Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers willing to pay multiple times the average rent price. “Here in the historic center, we are aware of dozens of buildings that used to be social housing or middle-class housing that have now been completely converted into Airbnb. The biggest apartment buildings are being converted into hotels, but when it isn’t possible to change the legal land use, they are converted into Airbnb,” a local resident said in a recent interview with Truthout. 

But Mexico City isn’t the only city suffering from the rise of Airbnb.

Instagram / @arisoiko_photo

If you thought that this was a problem just for Mexico City, you’d be wrong. Protest posters in Amsterdam read things such as, “Stop the eviction of Amsterdam!” during a December march against the changes Airbnb had brought to the city. Reports from The Guardian say that in 2018, Barcelona received 32 million tourists – which is approximately 20 times the residential population. The city now boasts graffiti saying, “Tourists go home, refugees welcome.”

What’s frustrating locals a lot goes beyond gentrification, into social and cultural shifts.

Instagram / @nurifergar

Locals are seeing their neighborhoods turn into transitory destinations, rather than a community built on strong relationships. “Before Airbnb, you had neighbors you could depend on. They looked out for you. If you went out of town, they’d get your mail, your paper,” New Orleans resident, Janice Coatney, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “You just had more of a neighborly neighborhood.” 

However, not all is doom and gloom.

Instagram / @riot_code_23

A few countries have introduced legislation in order to curb the socio-economic changes Airbnb has brought to cities around the world. Barcelona authorities placed a moratorium on new hotels in 2015 – and Airbnb hosts are required to hold a license to operate. It’s now illegal for entire apartments to be rented out for less than 30 days in the city of New York. Amsterdam has a cap on the number of nights that Airbnb hosts can rent out their apartments, having reduced that number from 60 to 30. So, policy-wise, these cities are trying to preserve their sense of community, without completely sacrificing their tourism industry.

Another alternative can be found in the aptly-named Fairbnb.

Instagram / @italianembassyinlondon

It’s essentially Airbnb, but with a twist: 50 percent of the revenue made from hosting a visitor is donated to local community projects. Fairbnb has sought to protect neighborhoods by also establishing a “real homesharing” policy – where hosts may only place a maximum of two houses on the Fairbnb market.

Ultimately, though, while we can see the buds of change beginning to blossom, it may be a while yet before it takes root in these gentrified neighborhoods. Here’s hoping that Mexico City won’t suffer too much from the strain of both migration and tourism.

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People Are Claiming To See Frida Kahlo’s Ghost At Her Home And Museum In Mexico City Just In Time For Día De Muertos

Culture

People Are Claiming To See Frida Kahlo’s Ghost At Her Home And Museum In Mexico City Just In Time For Día De Muertos

Casa Azul / Museo Frida Kahlo / Google Arts & Culture

It’s been almost 70 years since the death of beloved artist and activist Frida Kahlo, who passed away in 1954 at just 47 years old. She remains to this day one of the world’s most famous and loved artists.

In fact, her former home is now a museum and one of Mexico’s most visited attractions. But after all these years is it possible that her spirit walks the Earth and is paying visits to those who venture inside her home?

That’s the rumor at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, which is based in Casa Azul, the blue-walled home that Kahlo shared with her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

There are persistent rumors about a ghostly presence at Casa Azul, Kahlo’s former home.

Mexico City’s Casa Azul – the former home and now museum of Frida Kahlo – is one of the city’s top destinations for visitors. Fans of the artist from around the world are drawn to the site to pay honor or tribute to one of the world’s most popular artists.

Kahlo meant so much to so many people that it makes sense people are now sharing stories of their unusually encounters while inside the museum.

A docent (who’s worked at the museum for 15 years) told me a Frida Kahlo ghost is rumored to wander the rooms of Casa Azul. While another similar testimonial was shared in a book by Ariana Davis, What Would Frida Do? A Guide to Living Boldly, a new life-advice book that channels the artist’s fearless spirit, boundless creativity, and tireless embrace of self-expression.

“Curators like to say that, sometimes, Frida returns to her old home after dark; her shape has been seen filling out corsets and skirts as if she’s borrowing her old clothing for the night,” Davis writes.

And these aren’t the only such tales of a possible ghost in the museum.

In an undated article published by the California website Southbay, Marlene Strang writes that “the museum’s director confided to us that on occasion, she has heard the sound of labored footsteps emanating from Frida’s office in the basement when no one was there. She also mentioned witnessing supernatural phenomena, such as the appearance of wet footprints on the grounds seemingly out of nowhere, but was quick to point out that her sense of Frida’s presence is benign, playful, and ever welcome.”

Even before these recent stories, there were long rumors surrounding the artist’s death.

One spooky story has long made the rounds surrounding the circumstances of Kahlo’s cremation. The long-standing legend has it that while her corpse was being cremated, Kahlo sat straight up amid the head and appeared to smile as her hair caught fire, creating a corona of flames around her head.

Although spooky, many are excited at the prospect of encountering Kahlo’s alleged ghost.

Credit: Casa Azul / Google Arts & Culture

Because her art was so deeply personal, it’s no wonder that her fans feel so closely connected to Kahlo that they’d welcome the chance to encounter her ghost. One Kahlo expert even had some advice as to how you might do just that.

“Frida is everywhere,” according to Mary-Anne Martin, who specializes in Mexican and Latin American art. “If you want to see her on the Day of the Dead you should leave her some good tequila. She’ll like that.”

But Frida’s Casa Azul isn’t the only allegedly haunted site in the city more the country.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Whether it’s terrifying tales of weeping murder victims or whispering mummies, Mexico has plenty to offer visitors in search of the macabre. In Mexico City near Xochimilco, you’ll find the now Instagram-famous Isla de Las Muñecas. Discolored plastic dolls hang from the branches of the island’s trees, many with missing heads or limbs and it’s considered to be one of the city’s most haunted places.

Also in Mexico City, the Posada del Sol, is largely thought to be haunted. One of the underground chambers of the hotel is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl who was found dead in the building. The site is not open to the public but those who have ventured into the hotel often leave gifts of candy at an altar in order to avoid her curse.

But not all of the city’s haunted haunts are scary. Many locals believe that the Tasqueña station, on the city’s metro, is the spookiest spot. An elderly man reportedly haunts solo commuters waiting on the platform. But fear not – the ghost is said to be friendly. It is said that the man died during an assault at the station and is looking to protect passengers from a similar fate.

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Shocked Workers Find A ‘Giant Rat’ Inside Mexico City’s Sewer System

Things That Matter

Shocked Workers Find A ‘Giant Rat’ Inside Mexico City’s Sewer System

@NataliedeRosas / Twitter

The year 2020 seems to be the year that just won’t stop throwing us curve balls. In its latest attempt to shock and terrorize us, workers in Mexico City’s sewer system have found what appears to be a giant rat inside the system. The photos and video are straight out of a horror film.

Some on social media quickly wondered if this wasn’t an actual Master Splinter of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. But it turns out that the ‘giant rat’ has a far more normal origin story.

Images of a ‘giant rat’ from Mexico City’s sewer system quickly went viral on social media.

In what many are calling another sign of the apocalypse brought to us by the year 2020, Mexico City cleanup crews discovered what looked like a monster drowned rat while dredging the sewers. The giant-size “rodent” was part of 22 tons of litter the workers had removed from the city’s drainage tunnels following heavy rains, according to the Border Report.

During the cleanup process, the workers reportedly turned a corner and encountered what they described as a “giant rat,” which sat hunched over and sported incredibly realistic fur. As it turns out, the ’giant rat’ was actually a Halloween prop that had been washed out of its warehouse by the storm. The decoration somehow ended up in the labyrinthine network of sewer tunnels, where it sat undiscovered for years — until now.

Apparently, the ‘giant rat’ was a homemade Halloween decoration that went missing after a rainstorm.

Since the ‘rodents’ discovery, a woman named Evelin López has come forward to claim the rat, which she reportedly created from scratch for Halloween. Lopez said it had gone missing “years ago” during a torrential downpour, and no one could help her retrieve it.

Fortunately, the monster rat appears to be in safe hands — as a now-viral video shows it being hosed off on the street by sewer workers after being rescued from its subterranean lair. Witnesses told El universal that they marveled at the “beast’s” naturalistic appearance, and as can be expected many admitted that they’d of gone running in fear if they had seen it on the street.

The rat’s rightful owner said she has no idea what to do with her “Princess Bride”-evoking prop. Social-media pundits suggest recycling the beast for this year’s Halloween festivities — provided they hose it off a few more times first.

Unfortunately, the rat was discovered only because crews cleaned up debris after a woman drowned following torrential rains.

The ‘giant rat’ / Halloween prop was discovered to have caused a flood which drowned a 54-year-old woman trapped inside her apartment. The woman that died was named in local media reports as Doña Mari. She was 54 and drowned in her home after the water flooded into her residence.

The water caused furniture to move and block the door trapping her inside and drowning her. Her body was discovered by a neighbor, who went looking for her after realizing she wasn’t with other residents who had congregated outside after leaving their homes due to the flooding.

Authorities cleaned the drainage system in the area in hopes of reducing the flooding, and that is when they found the giant fake rat.

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