Rachel and I stepped up out of the metro station into the hurry of people beneath the presidential palace on Friday afternoon. Hedging our way around the Zócalo on the always busy cathedral side, our view of the square almost belied its existence; walls of PRD protest tents lined the space on every side. The heavy, gray stone of the surrounding colonial buildings became a muted, neutral background to the chaos of color it enclosed. The yellows, blacks and whites of the protester's tents, the reds, golds and greens of September's Independence Day, and the shifting stream of vendors and workers and people like us, walking our way to somewhere.
The PRD's protest of the presidential election manifested itself in our sightseeing for most of the day, but the quiet, ghost town feeling of the tents along Reforma avenue, where we walked toward the Museo de Antropología, seemed a world away from the hum of constant activity in the streets branching off from the Zócalo. The maze of tarps and forums and talks were a testament to a freedom that the protesters blessedly enjoy.
The going was slow toward the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where we were soon to meet up with Patricio. The road-blocking plantones are an onslaught to the senses, a bombardment of ideas and slogans and catch phrases being voiced for past two months. The issues seem blurry, the arguments, too. Sympathizing on both sides can trip a person up. But in spite of it all, there's an element of fun, of excitement in the mess, of reveling in the uncertainty of history in the making.
And its metaphor awaited out from under all the tents, right in front of the entrance to the Palacio itself. A public art installation made with thousands of suspended tubes, yellow and light and rubbery and smooth, held an attraction for everyone there. Moving into the mix, a type of malleable labyrinth, was the source of many smiles, no matter what the person's age.
There seems to be something about us that welcomes that experience, whether metaphorical or very real in our lives. Wandering through obstacles that are difficult to define, shaping the boundaries to fit our personal whims, and figuring out how to share all that space with the rest who are thick in it, too. It's strange and it's new, perhaps a source of anxiety but also of exhilaration, and no one can resist its allure.
For all the frustrations that this time in our country is causing, I was glad for a reminder that chaos can be okay. That it's possible to delight in the indefinable maze. That we all have the capacity to explore and to wonder, when given the freedom to see where it may lead.