Remembering Colonia Roma, Mexico
14 February, 2019
It's just past 7am when I wake to a sound that is indisputably Mexican. "Tamales, tamales oaxaeños, acérquese y pida sus ricos tamales oaxaeños." A standard morning wake-up call and breakfast offering in this corner of the city, I pass on the tamales but embrace the rambling alarm clock and get up.
I start to make my way across La Roma towards my favourite bakery. The sun is peeking through splintered tree branches as I walk along Avenida Obregon. Shadows dress the old colonial houses in lace-like patterns. I've made this walk dozens, if not hundreds of times. This time is different. I have Alfonso Cuarón's latest film, Roma, to thank for that.
Set in the 70s, the film tells the story of Cleo, a young woman of Mixtec heritage working as a live-in maid for an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City. Shot in digital black and white, the film showcases the beauty and intricacies of Colonia Roma at that time - and today I can't shake it.
Where I once fixated on the vibrant colours and street art that La Roma has become known for, I'm now noticing the shadows and contrast of the neighbourhood. Trendy cafés live within old colonial homes; a gluten-free bakery coexists below a tiled street sign that is decades old; a high rise pops up in front of the Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia.
"Te puedo ayudar?" Can I help you?
So fixated on details of the city, I fail to realise that I am at Panaderia Rosetta and completely blocking the entrance. I order a Guayaba-filled sweet bread, take a seat on one of the outdoor benches and reflect on the black-and-white world that Alfonso has introduced me to.