50 Favorite Places #12
Let me say first off: I would have loved the Bosque de Tlalpan under any circumstances. But in these fear-stalked, plague-ridden times, I love it even more. We all need more nature in our lives right now. Every breeze, every birdsong, every falling leaf and fluttering butterfly feels like a little bit of normalcy that also happens to be beautiful and soul-soothing.
Katie and I went to the Bosque on Thursday. It wasn’t planned, but between museum closings and a general desire to maintain social distance, going to a park seemed like the order of the day. Viveros (Favorite Place #11) was closed. So, I ascertained over the phone – speaking on the phone in Spanish is a phobia of mine, but I overcame it – was the spectacular botanic garden on the sprawling UNAM campus (another Favorite Place contender).
That left the Bosque de Tlalpan. Getting there was easier than I’d expected – a straight shot down Insurgentes on the Metrobus, then a short walk past humble food and merchandise stands that quickly give way to fortress-like gated residential communities – and the park, even more beautiful. Its loop roads, gravel track and trails are beloved by runners, and even though it was nearing mid-day, the place was full of them.
Katie and I had worn our running clothes, and dutifully jogged a little, but mostly we hiked, took deep breaths of piney air, and looked at birds – like the Elegant Euphonia that made us both gasp.
I went back by myself early this morning – Katie having left pre-dawn for her flight home – and stayed until afternoon. I hiked through pine forest and arid scrub. I watched runners fly fearlessly down rocky trails, and I watched runners labor doggedly up them. I discovered that Gray Silky-Flycatchers are aptly named, their plumage practically begging to be caressed, while the name of the Olive Warbler undersells its rakishly elegant good looks.
I felt that the Bosque de Tlalpan was the absolute best place in the world to be.
It’s been less than two weeks since I arrived in Mexico from NYC. During that time, my city has been utterly transformed by the new coronavirus, and now Mexico is bracing itself for the virus’s spread. I’m scared of what I’ll find when I get home from this shortened trip, scared of what may be waiting for Mexico.
In the Bosque de Tlalpan, I felt no fear. I took inspiration from the runners, found beauty in the landscape and avifauna – and felt the unexpected, utterly undeserved peace and joy that some religious believers call “grace.” I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in grace. It’s what nature gives us, and it’s why parks matter.