Leafy, Liberal La Condesa Serves as Muse for Many

Today I opened up my email to read two nice articles about my neighborhood, La Condesa.

First, a new boutique cafe has opened in Dallas, La Condesa Comida y Tequila. I intitally wanted to roll my eyes, since, well, the cafe is located in Dallas, but the owners actually described La Condesa fairly and accurately (the architecture – not the food, it’s really too varied here to have a cohesive style of food):

Owner Donald Chick “remembers walking Mexico City for days, ‘looking at things, taking pictures, eating everywhere we could.’ Where they ended up most often was La Condesa, which (co-owner Jesse) Herman likens to ‘the SoHo of 10 years ago’ with its Bohemian vibe and young artists. Like the SoHo of today, it’s also a magnet for upscale hotels, restaurants and galleries.

‘Mexico City is a thriving place right now,’ Herman says. ‘For the first time, you have a true middle class where the children are now our age, in their late 20s and early 30s, and they’ve had the opportunity to travel outside of Mexico and take things they’ve seen in the rest of the world and bring that back home. There is so much good design.’

Midcentury Mexican architecture, with its emphasis on concrete, wood, hand-hewn textures and what Herman admiringly describes as ’embracing imperfections’ became the basis for La Condesa’s aesthetic.’

And then, today there’s an AP news story about La Condesa serving as a shelter for writers who have fled war-torn countries. Not far from my home is “Citlaltepetl Refuge House, a renovated mansion in a leafy neighborhood of the world’s second-largest city.”

“(Kosovo poet poet Xhevdet) Bajraj’s first impression of Mexico City was a riotous mix of pastel-colored buildings, sidewalk food vendors, people and noise.

But Kosovo still haunted Bajraj and his family. He said it was months before he could sleep without worrying that someone would break into the house to kill them.

For weeks he sat at his computer, unable to write. But eventually the words came. His first book containing poems written in Mexico, ‘‘The Liberty of Horror,” won Kosovo’s top literary prize.

…Bajraj’s first book of poems written in Spanish will come out next year. He calls it a way of repaying the country that took him in.

‘‘When I came to Mexico, I was dead,” he said. ‘‘And here I started to live again.”

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