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Templo Mayor, as seen from the rooftop of the Círculo Mexicano HotelThe Mexican novelist Juan Villoro once noted, “To write about Mexico City is a challenge as elusive as describing vertigo.” From my apartment near the city’s center, I try anyway, with AirPods stuffed in my ears in a futile attempt to block out the noises below my window. On top of the shrieking drills of construction work come the characters who parade up and down my street every afternoon. One man plays the trumpet with his little boy in tow, banging on a drum. Another pedals by, announcing the arrival of his “ricos y deliciosos tamales oaxaqueños.” Trucks driven by men who buy and resell scrap iron blast the audiotape that has become Mexico City’s unofficial anthem: a woman’s droning voice, listing the objects they…

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