Barrios Bravos: Iztapalapa

It has been three months since my first post about Mexico City’s “barrios bravos” (“tough” or “brave” neighborhoods). In that entry, I listed the “rules” that one should follow for a safe visit, and then blogged about my experiences in Tepito, the most notorious barrio bravo in the Mexican capital. During my time as an honorary Chilango, I also had the opportunity to explore – and fall in love with – another much-maligned neighborhood, this one a proper delegación (borough): Iztapalapa.

Iztapalapa is more than just a collection of barrios bravos – it is the most-populous borough in Mexico City. It is also the poorest, hence its reputation. My first visit to Iztapalapa occurred when I was assigned English classes in the district. I learned that my students worked for a laboratory in the industrial Canal de San Juan/Periférico Oriente section of Iztapalapa. I was nervous – doubly so, since my arrival would be at the pre-dawn time of 7 a.m. But Google Earth showed me the way, and, after three bus transfers, I arrived without incident. This section of Iztapalapa is on the east side of the city, directly across the road from the Federal Police headquarters. The area is a manufacturing hub for numerous firms, so it’s low on charm but high on security. I felt safe, and by my third week I was walking back from class and stopping off for tacos campechanos at the city’s best street taquería.

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