Category Archives: urban photography

Lecheria, Mexico – The Crossroads of Irony.

Photo I shot at the Mexico City metro area.

A kind of no-man’s land.

An area commonly known as Lecheria, it is a crossroads of paths where highways, public transportation and train routes intersect. A kind of no-man’s land, since it is trapped in the local borders of the Tultitlan and Cuautitlan Izcalli municipalities — where crime, people traficking, illegal migration, and road accients thrive. The blurry jurisdiction in the area has created fertile soil for organized crime and urban decay.

The irony lies in this train tracks.

The irony lies in this train tracks, where most Central American illegals hover before going to the United States, since it is used for most of the import-export flow between Mexico and the US. These old tracks has been used for more than a century to communicate the Mexican capital with the far northern part of the country — and hence, America.

A hub for people who work or study.

Lecheria has its name because there used to be many establishments in the area selling milk many decades ago, way before the urban sprawl reached it. Today, the commuting train has one of its stations here, making it a hub for people who work or study daily in Mexico City proper.

It is a micro cosmos of Mexico in general.

The stark contrasts of Lecheria are too easy to spot. There are decaying factories, warehouses, and improvised wooden slums next to upscale malls, luxurious hotels, a museum, and several restaurants and movie theaters. The mountains — part of the Guadalupe Mountain Range — on one side simple unfinished houses, while on the other towers of coveted departments rise tall. It is a micro cosmos of Mexico in general.



Mexico City Public Transportation 101

Photo I shot at Mexico City metro area.

In Mexico City suburban areas and the inner city have different kinds of public transportation. In the Federal District, which is Mexico City proper, there is a vast subway, metrobus, trolebus, normal buses, cabs, electric cabs, tricycle cabs, a small commuting train, and a long interstate commuting train that connects with the State of Mexico northern municipalities.

In the surrounding area of the Federal District, locally known as Distrito Federal or simply DF, there is of course the commuting train, cabs, mexibus, normal buses, and what locals call combis (which are glorified minivans that swarm the almost 21 municipalities that surround Mexico City).

The one in the picture is known as a micro (pronounced mee-cro), which usually are outdated American buses from yesteryear. These micros roam in the metro area, while buses usually connect to Mexico City downtown.

Mexico City inhabitants and yours truly have to undergo the intricate public transport at some point. American cities are more car oriented but the Mexican capital is enormous and overpopulated that at times it makes its avenues and expressways useless because of epic traffic jams. After all, this is the third largest urban agglomeration of the world. Hence, its mobility problems are far greater and more challenging than way (way) smaller cities like New York or New Delhi.

I have crossed the whole city from one city limit to the other using only public transportation, it took me a bit more than 4 hours. And I was lucky, because I avoided rush hour. I did the same time one makes from Mexico City to Acapulco beach by car.

If you’re interested in Mexico City and its history, check out my book Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Girl on Public Transport. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Girl on Public Transport. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexico City’s main avenue

Photo I shot at Mexico City’s Reforma Avenue.

I did this long exposure photography while I was lying near where the cars passed in order to obtain this light effect.

Once an imperial boulevard during the times of the Second Mexican Empire led by Emperors Maximilian of Hapsburg and Carlotta of Belgium, today it is a financial and posh street. It has become the most important street in all of Mexico.

The independence column houses the remains of men and women who led the Mexican Independence War.

Commonly called the angel by Mexicans in general, in reality it’s the semi-nude Greek goddess of Victory.

Long Exposure in Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.
Long Exposure in Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Jicama vendor at Mexico City

Photo I shot at Mexico City metropolitan area. The urban sprawl is so huge that it encompasses several states. Public transportation varies from place to place within the greater Mexico City area to be able to cover all districts and boroughs.

At public transportation key places where routes link it is common to see street vendors and eateries. You can find tortas (the equivalent of hamburgers made out of french bread) as low as 1 dollar*, or amaranth bars (the ones they sell you at posh nutritional store elsewhere in the world) as low as 50 US cents*.

In this case this gorgeous lady sells jicama, which is not only nutritional but low-fat. She sells them cut and already ready set to-go. In other places they make their form as lollipops, called jicaretas. But in general you can have them prepared with chilli powder, chilli sauce, lemon, etcetera. Long ago they carried them out in the open, but now most jicama and fruit vendors display them inside a glass-protected case.

When in doubt, whenever you are going to buying food or fruit, be sure to ask them how do they prepare it. It varies from place to place, and one can learn more about how to eat it.

* Prices are given according to current peso-US dollar conversion.

Jicama vendor at Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Jicama vendor at Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Tultitlan Fair

Part of a photo series I shot at Tultitlan, in northwestern Mexico City metro area.

The municipality of Tultitlan celebrates each year the St. Anthony festivities, as the town’s streets are filled with mechanical games, food vendors, crafts to sell, improvised eating places, and late-night bars. Founded in ancient times by Tezozomoc, Huey Tlatoani (high ruler) of the Azcapotzalco altepetl (nation), as part of one of his plans to take over the neighboring Cuautitlan nation.

Once a Tepanec military post, Tultitlan now thrives with factories of blue-chip companies.

For many centuries it was a town separated from all other cities situated in the Cuautitlan Valley. But that changed, and nowadays Tultilan became engulfed inside the gargantuan-size city into which Mexico City’s urban sprawl has become. It is almost between one and a half to two driving-hours the distance between Tultitlan and Mexico City’s downtown (the Aztec Mexica capital of old). Now, they are within the same urban metro area, just as with many ancient indigenous capitals of old.

Tultitlan fair, Mexico. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.
Tultitlan fair, Mexico. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.

Mexico City’s cityscape, present and past.

Text and photograph by Miguel Omaña.

Taken from Buenavista district, this photo shows how the city looks looking to the South. I must say I was incredibly lucky to get such a view in a smog-infested city. After an afternoon rain, the sky of this ancient land tends to clear up for the remained of the day. This permits the eye to gaze the mountains and volcanoes that surround the gigantic urban sprawl.

Mexico City is no stranger to skyscrapers.

What you see below is Insurgentes Avenue, the longest non-stop avenue in the city, and apparently one of the longest in the world. The avenue leads towards the wall of buildings one can easily spot — this barrier is in fact Reforma Avenue. Contrary to what you see in cities of America, Canada, and Australia, the tallest buildings in Mexico City are not located in its downtown area. If any, Mexico City’s historical downtown has mainly old colonial and 19th century buildings (and a couple of 20th century grey-ish buildings here and there).

One can also see the mountains, which form part of the Ajusco peak (locally known as Cerro del Ajusco). One has to cross those mountains to go to say — Acapulco.

And even way before the Mexica Aztecs, many capitals thrived for centuries in this valley.

Mexico City is no stranger to skyscrapers. Way before the Hispanic people arrived to Anahuac — the original name of Mexico — the city had impressive buildings many stories high. Then called Mexico Tenochtitlan, the city knew tall buildings before New York. After all, the Big Apple is credited for having the for skyscrapers. But the Mexica — the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, also known as Aztecs — were used to see massive palaces and tall structures (something that impressed Cortez). And even way before the Mexica Aztecs, many capitals thrived for centuries in this valley once occupied by a huge lake (actually various interconnected lakes).

The Colhuas, the Tepanecas, the Chichimecs of Tenayuca, Xaltocan, Zumpango, many knew tall buildings — except nobody built them a la New York. Earthquakes are a constant in this valley, and for millenia people had erected tall buildings in such a way that the rest of the world see them as pyramids. They’re actually not pyramids, those are in Egypt, temples were built to emulate mountains. What is sturdier that a firm mountain? That’s why ancient Mexican architectural prowess revolved in the mimic of nature itself.

Photo I shot at Mexico City. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.
Photo I shot at Mexico City. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.