It was a June afternoon without a cloud in the sky, and I was wandering toward the ocean with a mission-style burrito in one hand (inquire in person) and the Kwik-E-Mart’s finest European import in the other. Having quite enough of a tan already, I felt like being idle for a couple of hours somewhere besides the beach… spying an open bench in a shady spot as I strolled off Olas Altas, I decided to park myself for a bit at Parque Lazaro Cardenas.
The Vibes: You see, I greatly value time and space to process, and spaces like Parque Lazaro Cardenas are an ideal setting for reflection.
On especially festive days, this landmark off the Malecon hosts a variety of special events from concerts and art exhibitions to food festivals and other themed celebrations, but it’s also a perfectly good place to watch the world for a while. A touch of shade made the weather perfect for the pursuit, a gentle sea breeze breathing life into the summer stillness.
I savored my solitude, slowly taking in the vivid colors of the kaleidoscopic tile work that dominated structures in the square, all lovingly handcrafted by locals with an enthusiam for aesthetics. I scribbled notes in my book as they bubbled up from my subconscious, counted birds perched in the branches above—and also charted their positions relative to my seat in an effort to maintain only desirable dyes in my hair.
The Vices: Part of the reason why I’m so well-suited to this particular gig is that interesting things tend to happen in my general area, no matter what point in space I currently occupy… sometimes I’m more a professional bystander than anything else.
To wit, I looked up from the writer’s cliche I was living for another absentminded draw from my…um, asthma inhaler…to take notice of a senior teenager nervously shuffling over to where I was sitting as his friends looked on curiously. “¿Regálame un poco?” inquired the skatery lad, clearly suffering from the same symptoms.
Far be it from be to deny a man in need of medicine, so I shared a bit of my supply because it’s always good to spread a little goodwill when possible.
Having performed my service to humanity for the moment, I took up my sword once more and set upon my quest to find the great truths in life. What features would the ideal universal language have? Is the best day of my life past or yet to come? Is there any such thing as objective good? Is social media destroying society or just giving it a new and better shape no one recognizes?
It was in the midst of wondering who decided to put lime in all of Mexico’s mayonnaise that I was brought back into the terrestrial world by a fellow human holding a small, shiny charm in the shape of a familiar leaf. “Hey man, you speak English? I found this, it’s almost silver…you want to buy it?”
With a legitimately tickled smile, I explained that I was a little low on cash at the moment, as his powers of deduction had failed to detect that I was drinking cheap beer in a ratty t-shirt on a park bench. The man bearing wares was undeterred: “Trade me for one of those then,” gesturing at the green cans in the plastic bag by my side.
As park bartering goes, I feel like I did pretty well…after a delighted chortle at life’s amusing randomness, I attached the semi-precious charm to my existing earring and happily walked away with the satisfaction that my afternoon at the park had probably peaked.
The Verdict: Inviting public spaces are essential to a well-run society, giving people a place to enjoy for free outside their own living rooms. Like other such sites in the city, Parque Lazaro Cardenas encourages you to come for the scenery and stay for the scene. Maybe I’ll catch you there.