Día 2 – 12:37am
Funny that the turbulence of the flight is somehow in keeping with my chosen movie: Master and Commander. An odd interrelationship of air and sea travel is creating something akin to a sensory, interactive experience. The wine might also be assisting.
4am (in London) / 10:00pm in Mexico City
According to the flight map we are flying over the wonderfully named Labrador City, Canada. Just put my watch back 6 hours to account for the time difference. That was the closest to time travel I will ever get. Still 5 ½ hours to go to Mexico City. Long haul is an appropriate phrase. At least the time lapse will give me a few more hours of sleep upon arrival.
5am - Mexico City Airport
The zombie hours. As far as 12-hour flights go that wasn’t too bad but I still feel like my brain is operating with a three second delay and my body is protesting in new and imaginative ways. It was pretty quiet going through immigration and I met a couple of people – Rob and Sam – also going to the conference so didn’t have to worry about finding out where to go. We were met by Miriam, one of the conference organisers, but before going off to the hotel we had try and find a way to get Sam’s industrial size chemical vaporiser into a old and uncooperative Renault. He is doing some kind of space-themed cocktail show, which better be bloody good. Doing the krypton factor at 5:30am was not on my agenda. However we managed to solve the puzzle and were soon off the Hotel. Upon arrival all three of us made a hasty exit to our rooms without much fanfare. Sleep time.
Couldn’t sleep so went down to breakfast. The Hotel Maria Cristina is a very old fashioned Mexican place with lots of wood panelling and semi-impressionist pictures of rural vistas and/or earnest farmers cultivating the land. There is a small terraced garden to the side, which at this moment is being cut into sections by columns of light created in the early morning sunshine. The hotel is populated by austere looking staff. Aged female cleaners look particularly aggrieved shuffling silently with their mops of doom. Breakfast in the hotel is not great, soft toast and weak coffee. The waiter doesn’t respond well to my attempts at overt politeness. I’ll go out in future. My lethargy is going to prevent me doing any writing or prep for the conference so I’m going for a walk.
I bought a book: The Underdogs by Marino Azuela. It is described as the seminal text of the Mexican revolution. If I’m going to read about Mexico, may as go straight to the heart of its modern birth. Found it in a beautiful little book shop with a café situated on a raised section in the centre. Lot’s books in English, which had no discernable rhyme or reason as to why they were there. On the second floor there were many old Mexican tomes on law, politics and history. I get the feeling that this is something of an intellectual hangout – I may come back again to try and enact some cleverness. I proceeded to walk down the Paseo de la Reforma to the Parque Chapultepec some 30 minutes West. There I accidentally discover the Museo de Arte Moderno which I decide to enter after paying the spectacularly cheap fee of 26 pesos (£1.20). The museo has an entrance building, with cafe and gift shop, that leads to a garden of sculptures in many different styles. On the far side is the main building. Two large circular galleries with a connecting section between. This year is the museo’s 50th anniversary and there is a retrospective of the work of its founder and designer Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, a genius architect who is responsible for many of Mexicos contemporary buildings. There are also works by Diego Reviera, José Orozco and Frida Kahlo including The Two Fridas, one of her most famous and disturbing pieces. I hope to see some more of Mexico’s art before the week is out. Walking back I feel the tiredness catching up with me so after a quick and uneventful food stop I head back to the hotel to crash for a few hours before the first night of the conference.
Kosmica is being held in the Centro de Cultura Digital which is set down under the main street and is marked by a towering monolith brightly lit with fluorescent gold and white. There are several art pieces set up around the main space and seating is at the far end facing a screen and in front is where speakers will sit. Tonights talks are about experimental films inspired by or directly about space, a particularly interesting one is called Afronauts by a filmmaker called Francis Bodomo. The fact that the event is in Spanish and English gives a very distinctive atmosphere and the audience seems to comprise of mainly Mexican students or artists. It makes me think that I should include some Spanish into my presentation, if only to try and get the audience on my side. I feel once again that my inability to speak Spanish is something that I really regret and walking back to the hotel afterward I resolve to change this starting with Friday's talk.