Million Dollar Views….from the rooftops of Latin America….

Sara Pilote has just spent 6 months in Los Cabos as an SCI CIDA intern. She reflects on her time there in her lovely blog piece below. Thanks, Sara!

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One of the things that I like the most here in Mexico and in other countries in Latin America, are the rooftops. I find them incredible! Because from there, you get Million Dollars Views…and you also get to discover part of the lives of others…

You’ll see hanging clothes from the neighbors, children playing football in the street, mango trees, or even Mariachis down in the street playing at night if you are lucky…you will see workers building houses not to far from there, or women cooking at the windows of other houses, the top of the church if you are downtown….in the end, you will see life!! And you will feel part as being part of something, part of a neighborhood, part of the family nearby, part of the city you live in, because from there, you get to experiment the city life in all its definition, because a city is all of this: its people living nearby and doing so many different things at the same time….and the rooftops from here make you feel this for real!!

I love coming out of the individual world we get used to in the North with our private gardens and closed doors….I love to re-get used to what “people living together” means. For me, this proximity with others, this access to others people’s day to day lives is energizing, and I always marvel when I get up on the roof, turn around and around and look at everything: all this life surrounding me.

In my trip to Rio last july, where I studied the link between solidarity and sustainability in favelas, I was impressed but the amazing views that favelas inhabitants had. Those were, sincerely, Million Dollar Views that couldn’t get you out of bed without a smile I believe…The line of the horizon, the ocean, the trees formed part of this incredible panorama. And on the side of some favelas, always closer, you could sometimes see big condominium buildings in construction…going to cost millions of reals to their future owners for private balconies and “a view from the top” to the ocean, the trees and the horizon also….and the favelas below as well….With this kind of constructions side by side: favelas/condominiums….you see how individuality slowly gets to destroy the way people share their day to day life when they live next to another closer to the ground than in those highrises…..

However, these places remain, these “cities in the city” are still there alive, with inhabitants that sometimes have known each other for years and have seen those changes, have seen modernity come close by, but have remained where they feel they belong, which is where they usually want to stay, because this place is “their” place. Sometimes, they even built it themselves, they have seen it grow, they have seen their neighbors’ children come to life, get to walk, go to school….These local stories of people who live there have always been inspiring to me, and when I get up to my rooftop here in San José del Cabo, I just smile, because this place is part of why I am so happy to be here, and so glad to be able to live this experience…It is also the reason why I don’t want to come back…

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About sustainablecitiesnetwork

Sustainable Cities International is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Operating since 1993, the mission of Sustainable Cities is to catalyze action on urban sustainability with cities around the world. We work by connecting and mobilizing people through the process of co-creating. We facilitate a thriving, international network of cities that act as urban laboratories: adopting, testing and improving on innovations. Ideas are accelerated through sharing of experience and cities are making transformational change a reality
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