The Coolest Art Installation Ever

After a failed attempt to find ballet flats at one of the malls close to my apartment (nobody here wears flip-flops, much to my dismay), I squeezed onto the Metrobus and went the wrong way for five stops.

That would have been fine, except that the bus heading the other direction was delayed by several minutes – and completely full. I had to thrust myself into the jam-packed hellhole, elbowing plenty of old ladies in the head on my way in.

Six stops later (did I mention that my stop was only one away from my original destination), I viciously pushed my way back off the bus and scooted out, happy I escaped with all my limbs intact.

On my way back, I passed a stop for the Turibus, a double-decker red bus that loops through some of the highlights of Mexico City. Normally, this kind of thing would make me cringe. However, I thought it would be a great way to get a better grasp of the city, as I haven’t ventured out of my neighborhood much.

The representative tells me that I’ve just missed the bus that goes to the centro (there are two bus routes), but it will leave again in half an hour. I tell him I’ll be back and run to my apartment a couple of blocks away to grab my camera.

I get there just as the bus is pulling in – perfect! I tell him I’m ready to go to the centro, and he says this isn’t the right bus, but the one I’m waiting for should be coming in the next few minutes. As the bus pulls away, a couple approaches the booth. They say they want to go to the centro, and he replies that the bus has just left.

WTF?! Umm, I wanted to go to the centro, I remind him. Oh, you didn’t say to the south? No. Oops. You can wait another half an hour or catch up with the bus at another stop.

As it’s not my style to belittle customer service reps, I smiled and told him I’ll wait, but changed my mind and headed over to the Monumento a la Independencia, a huge landmark in the middle of Paseo de la Reforma. As soon as I arrived, I quickly forgot about the Turibus.

All along the street, on both sides, were over 200 life-sized alebrijes like these:

La Noche de los Alebrijes blue bug

La Noche de los Alebrijes - monster fishI have a strange sort of dumb luck when it comes to stumbling upon cool things, but this trumps everyhing I’ve found by accident. It has to be the best public art installation that I’ve ever seen.

La Noche de los Alebrijes - bug eyes

Most of the placards indicated that they were designed by art students from different schools throughout the city. Mexico is raising some seriously talented artists.

La Noche de los Alebrijes - the detailed dragon

the detail on this guy is amazing

La Noche de los Alebrijes - flower with eyes

I was completely overwhelmed not just by the sheer number of displays (I didn’t have time to get to them all), but by their size and detail. The creators utilized everything from water bottle tops to shards of glass to enhance their creations.

La Noche de los Alebrijes - bird band

check out the eyelashes on her

This is the fifth year that the alebrijes have paraded through the city center all the way to Paseo de la Reforma where they come to rest. This year, they will be set up until November 6, 2011.

  • Gar

    Really like these. Does “alebrijes” have an English translation?

  • Well according to Wikipedia, they are: “brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures” It must be a word used only in Mexico as I didn’t see it in http://www.spanishdict.com/.

  • Love these! Your pictures are great, you really captured the creatures

  • Thanks Barbara :)

  • Jasmine,
    Love, love this (did I say I loved it).  I am attracted to bright colors and imaginative pieces.  Too bad they are going to be on display til November 6.  I will be visiting Mexico City shortly on mid-November.

  • We were over that way on Saturday for the parade. These are some great photos! ;)

  • anonymous

    wow alebrijes on reforma avenue.thats amazing u know who is this?

  • Thanks Ruth! Yeah they are really amazing figures. Let me know when you get here if you have time, maybe we can meet up :)

  • Thanks Laura! I didn’t catch the parade, just the setup afterwards.

  • Jaja que bueno el ingles

  • I went down to Reforma last Sunday hoping to find these, but they were already moved to the Zocalo for the weekend.. it was very cool

  • Donna Blaire

    Awesome! I so love the designs. I guess all
    the stress, sweat, and frustrations of heading to the centro is worth the
    sight..LOL.. Very pretty shots! :)