Monday, 22 July 2024
The two capitals in my life The two capitals in my life Alejandra Gotóo

Paradoxes and Pleasures of Living in Capital Cities: Mexico City and Zagreb

Written by  Alejandra Gotóo Apr 23, 2023

Putting our thoughts into words often feels like we are ripping them from our minds while their roots remain firmly planted in our psyche. Some thoughts are like beautiful flowers or bountiful fruits, while others are more like pesky weeds that we must pull. Living in a different country is challenging, and living in the same city where I was born was also challenging. Sometimes life is way more challenging than we are allowed to accept. One of my favorite books is Michel Ende's Momo, which tells the story of a young girl who realizes that life is not as easy as she once thought. This novel is a coming-of-age story, but it can also be read as an allegory for our times, where the paradoxes of life are inevitable and inescapable.

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Life in Mexico City and life in Zagreb are similar and, at the same time, particular, another paradox. I love that both have so many cultural happening, an excellent international food scene, and friendly people. Something better in Mexico City is the climate. There is moderate weather throughout the year, never too hot, or cold. This spring in Zagreb, I have been disappointed. Most days are cloudy, sometimes there is a little bit of sunshine, some other days there is rain and wind. I feel like I was very lucky in Mexico City with the weather, and I never paid a lot of attention to it.

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Moreover, living in different cities and countries has taught me that every place has its own character and beauty, and it is up to us to discover and appreciate it. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and overlook the simple pleasures of life, such as the sun's warmth on our skin or the sound of the rain tapping against the window.

Taking the time to observe and savor these moments can be a powerful antidote to the stress and anxieties of modern life.

As a writer, I am constantly seeking inspiration from my surroundings. I have learned that cultivating a sense of curiosity and wonder is good for writing and eases speeding thoughts.

Here is a list of five places and experiences in Zagreb that I particularly enjoy:

Graffiti. All around the city, you will find them, so pay attention. Some are the authors' names, others are phrases that call to reflection, and some are drawings. Each is unique and has a short period of life. Graffiti implies being unprotected and outside, so sometimes it is easy to never see the same twice.

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Dolac Market. This bustling market is a must-visit for foodies and anyone who loves fresh produce and city life. Here you can find an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, and other delicacies. The market is also a great place to soak up the vibrant energy of Zagreb. You will see daily life with people just minding their own business. Makes me think of novels of the last century, where city life is described as a comparison to the more calm relaxing country life.

Tunnel Grič. A fascinating underground passage was built during World War II to provide shelter and protection for citizens during air raids. The tunnel became a tourist attraction in 2016 after it was remodeled and reopen for the public. Walking through it is like traveling through time.

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Mirogoj Cemetery. A peaceful and lonely place in the heart of the city. It is known for its stunning architecture and serene atmosphere. However, the earthquake of 2020 damaged some buildings, and now it is impossible to visit all. I enjoy walking the paths and admiring the elaborate tombs and mausoleums. If you pay attention, you can find some graves that hold stories of disease and despair. There is one where five children died in less than 3 years.

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Zrinjevac Park. This beautiful park in the heart of the city is a great place to relax and unwind. I love, when the weather allows, to sit and take in the lush greenery, tranquil fountains, and charming architecture. This is a place to be in nature but still in the city, close to restaurants and cafes.

Reflecting on my experiences of living in these two different cities and countries, I have come to realize that each place has its own unique character and charm. Every location has something special to offer. It's up to us to take the time to explore and appreciate life's simple pleasures, such as the beauty of nature and the richness of local culture.

As a writer, I have found that immersing myself in new surroundings and experiences has been a powerful source of inspiration. Whether it's exploring the graffitis of Zagreb, sampling the fresh produce at Dolac Market, or taking a peaceful stroll through Mirogoj Cemetery, there is always something new and exciting to discover. These experiences have helped me to cultivate a sense of curiosity and wonder, which has not only been good for my writing but also for my mental well-being.

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In conclusion, I believe that living in different places and experiencing new cultures is challenging but it is also incredibly rewarding. By embracing the unique character of each place and taking the time to appreciate its beauty, we can broaden our horizons, expand our minds, and enrich our lives. Embracing the paradoxes that come with such experiences is crucial to making the most out of them.

The differences and contradictions we encounter along the way can help us appreciate the complexity of life and find joy in unexpected places. Instead of resisting, we should embrace these paradoxes and let them shape us.

Alguien en la sala conoce o sabe qué es un verdadero escritor?
¿Existen las verdaderas escritoras?
¿Alguien ha visto alguna vez a la verdadera literatura?
¿A la verdadera poesía?
Sara Uribe

Does anyone in the room know or know what a true writer is?
Are there female true writers?
Has anyone ever seen real literature?
True poetry?
Sara Uribe, translated by me.


Alejandra Gotóo (1991, Mexico City), who studied English Literature and recently graduated with a Masters of Social Anthropology is now writing about her time in Croatia as a columnist in Dubrovnik Times. Her work has been published in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. She has two published novels, Ruptura and Isadore or Absolute Love. Her topics of interest include nature, adventure, language, books, food, culture, animals, conservation, and women's rights. She also writes in her blog: Cardinal Humours.


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