By Cuauhtli Laguna.
Mexico City is enormous. Let me just say that it is much larger than what I envisioned. I remember standing in front of the Independence Monument when I was ten. I thought the winged victory on top of the column was a colossal statue. When I was a child, everything appeared bigger.
Sixteen years after moving from the city on January 23, I returned to the Angel Monument and stopped in the same place I had when I was ten years old. It was cloudy, but that didn’t stop the movement of people coming up and down the stairs of the monument.
I then remembered the teachers of my childhood and their anecdotes about this emblematic monument of the Mexico City and its people. It is amazing how those details have occurred to me and how new ones have been incorporated through the course of the years. And though my height had changed, the angel still rests as immovable and majestic as ever.
The project was intended to be built on what’s known as a plinth, but the constantly changing government delayed its construction. It was not until January 2, 1902, that the first stone was as placed on the then-called Paseo del Emperador, or what’s currently known as Paseo de la Reforma.
Eight years later President Porfirio Díaz opened the Independence Monument on September 16, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the liberation of Mexico.
They say that in 1923 it became a mausoleum where the remains of the nation’s heroes are housed. And almost a century later on May 30, 2010, their urns boxes were withdrawn for the bicentennial of Mexican Independence.
Now in 2015 new developments surround the angel, ones that are left imperceptible in daily, unofficial history: magical moments in the lives of children, teens and adults who come to this altar through rain and earthquakes.
The iron gate that serves as an entrance to the mausoleum was closed and the rain became constant. I turned and went slowly down the stairs. In back of me, a quinceañera posed with their young chamberlains to the rhythm of the noise of cars and the exuberant cries of other quinceañeras in passing in pink limousines.
For a moment I thought that my visit was over as the rain turned into a downpour and everyone ran for cover. Suddenly the figure of Miguel Hidalgo, located in the column pedestal, lit up deep blue and left me perplexed. The contrast of colors was exorbitant. If you think I’m exaggerating, witness for yourself the great monument when night falls.
The lights surrounding the enclosure color the column, the top and the city’s prized winged victory in flight in various colors. In his right hand extended upward, he holds the crown of laurels while his left arm features a broken chain of three links, which symbolize the three centuries of Spanish viceroyalty. Everything is perfectly lit to create the illusion of life.
During my childhood I happily marveled, as everything appeared so much larger and more colorful. It’s been a year since I left home to start my life, and today in front of the independence monument, I remembered that I’m still a restless child who can still be astonished.