The main reason we flew into Mexico City was because Rad needed to visit the national archive. I looked at the place on Google Maps and it looked like a giant compound. That’s because the archive is in an old penitentiary that was built in 1900 during the reign of the dictator Porfirio Díaz. In 1976, the penitentiary was closed and then turned into the archive. I learned all of this from an exhibit in the center of the facility where the guard tower used to stand. Today, the cells are full of documents instead of convicts and there are hordes of cats cruising the common areas. I was taking photos of the cats when I noticed that a small boy was just as fascinated with the abundance of the creatures as I was. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to flex my rudimentary Spanish skills.
Yo: Hay muchos gatos. ¿no?
El Niño: Sí.
After we took a few snapshots of some documents, we caught a cab and muscled our way through the choked streets back to the center of town. The Doors’ live versions of Gloria blared from the speakers as the driver complained about a huge protest that blocked a main thoroughfare on the way back. I was fairly certain that the DJ did not know what Jim Morrison was saying during the super saucy parts of the song, but when he came back on the air he was laughing and speaking in a low voice that led me to believe he was well aware. And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A. Due to the world-famous traffic, it took nearly an hour to get back to the hotel.
giant Mexican flag in the center of the compound
cell block turned archive storage