My exploration of the East European immigrants experience in Mexico City began in a conversation with author Ilan Stavans. This lively encounter inspired my visit to the “Centro Historico” where another unique encounter, this time with Monica Unikel, transported me to the days when the first Jewish immigrants arrived in the city. Monica’s Jewish heritage, Mexican birthright and background in history combined into a unique career as tour guide with a concentration Mexico’s Jewish past. The kaleidoscopic sights and sounds of modern metropolis Mexico City is grounded in the archaeological remnants of the Aztec empire, historic structures of the Spanish conquistadors and in the faces of modern Mexican citizens.
Blossoming Jacaranda trees lined the streets of the city upon landing. The spiked light violet flowers of these lovely ornamental shade trees defined my first impressions. Our tour with Monica revealed layers of history and clashes of culture which are majestically rendered in the details of this design. The skills of artisans from native and immigrant groups are all employed in reflecting the tiny but influential contributions of the Jewish immigrants to this Mesoamerican terrain and bless the beloved couple with the gifts of this fascinating place on earth.