A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Hose, The Fence & The Chain
Monday, September 17, 2007

The bars of chapultepec are good for you. But only for you.
Are they painted red? No, no.
Are they painted blue? No, no.
Are they painted green? Yes, yes.

My poet/novelist/environmental friend Homero Aridjis in his novel ¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor? The title of this untranslated book would be "In whom do you think of when you make love?") writes of a not too distant future in which Mexico City's most famous park, Chapultepec Park, is mentioned by one of the protagonists as "el ex-Bosque de Chapultepec.

Rosemary and I had picnics in this park in the late 60s. We marvelled at the old ancient Taxodium mucronatum called ahuehuetes or simply cypresses by Mexicans. These trees were around during the conquest of Tenochtitlan by Cortés and his hordes. Now they are dying (note colour photograph) because Mexico City's high pollution levels.There is one famous song that mentions the ornate wrought iron bars that surround sections of the park. It is called Las Rejas de Chapultepec.

Las rejas de chapultepec
son buenas son buenas
Nomas para usted

Las rejas de chapultepec
Las rejas de chapultepec
Son buenas son buenas
Nomas para usted

Estan pintadas de rojo? No no
Estan pintadas de azul? No no
Estan pintadas de verde? Si si

Roberto Kenny

Sometime in 1974 I posed by them with Ale and Hilary. I think Rosemary snapped the picture. At night the police would close all entry to the park with heavy chains. The chains have not prevented the Mexico City smog from all but killing those cypresses to Aridjis's dismay.

My first question when I arrived in Vancouver and drove through Stanley Park was, "When does it close?" The question was lost to most of the Canadians I asked. Most thought I was joking. They, being Canadian, had no concept of a chained public park. My wife Rosemary has helped me appreciate the varied splendor of our parks, specially the botanical ones of VanDusen, Nitobe Memorial Garden and the UBC Botanical Garden. We have gone on many a walk. One of our favourites is going through the huge collection of rhododendrons of the UBC Botanical Garden. Since this is a true botanical garden it does have gates and a fence, something I am familiar with. But there are places inside where you lose sight of the city and you feel you are surrounded by wilderness. I took the above Widelux (a 35mm swivel lens panoramic camera) picture with Kodak Infrared film. It was only when I was getting ready to print it that I noticed the hose.

To me it is a fine Canadian touch. You don't tame a wilderness with metal chains. A hose will suffice. Strange as it may seem, my Brockville, Ontario born wife saw her first totem pole in Chapultepec Park.

Note: To those why may have not noticed the maximum width of photographs in this blog cannot exceed five inches. But if you click on the image and wait, just a bit, the image will be larger. While keeping your mouse cursor on the image a button on the bottom appears with arrows, click on them and the image will enlarge further.

More Homero Aridjis
And Even More Homero Aridjis


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