At last! I am not in America! I do love my country, but it was time for me to hit the friendly skies and jet to lesser known lands. So here I am in Mexico for 10 days before heading to a country I truly don’t know, Guatemala.
This adventure was preceded by another adventure which took place in Chicago. While I am not at liberty to share all the details of my date with destiny in the Windy City, I can share that my time there resulted in one of the most unique experiences of my life. I am sure I will be able to share all the behind the scene details soon. In the meantime, don’t be mad that I am being such a tease :)…all good things are worth waiting for.
Getting ready for things to come at one of my favorite restaurants in America and on the planet, Frontera Grill.
The 45 minutes of sleep I got the night before I left Chicago dulled my reactions when I had to take an Uber from my hotel to Chicago O’Hare with a “surge” price of 2.1 times the normal fare. Egads! When did this start? And what is the point of taking Uber if the price is exactly the same as a cab waiting outside my hotel? This is definitely one to ponder…especial now that I am more rested.
El Palacio de Bellas Artes
While I did arrive to Mexico D.F. with a crook in my neck, an international flight has never passed so rapidly. Let’s just hope I didn’t snore. I would also add, let’s hope my mouth wasn’t gaping open, but that was a given. An angel I am not when I sleep.
I ended up taking a bus to my hotel per the advice of a German tourist behind me in both the passport control and customs lines. We had over 2 hours next to each other between the two waits, and while eavesdropping I learned that he came to the city quite often. In our final few minutes together, I turned and sought advice, “Should I take a taxi or bus?” He felt the bus was safer. Fine. I liked that it only cost 30 pesos (~$2) and got me within a few blocks of my hotel.
I did arrive safe, and enjoyed the community effort to help me get there. Locals who noticed the sometimes lost look in my eyes, asked how they could help, a police officer guarded my luggage while another local and police officer helped me buy my bus ticket, and a myriad of pedestrians efficiently directed me towards my hotel in the historical center. Despite my sheer exhaustion, all of the truly kind and purposeful aid, energized me and reminded me why I love this beautiful country so.
El Ballet Folklórico de Mexico- traditional dance and dress from Oaxaca
A shower and 2 hours of sleep later I was in front of the famous Palacio de Bellas Artes to meet a Mexican friend, Ricardo. After 2 cheek kisses, he said, “Jen, the Ballet Folklorico is about to start if you want to see it.” Uh…absolutely! He didn’t know it, but seeing the ballet was on my “must do” list while I was in Mexico City. I had seen it over 10 years ago, and it had left such a positive impression that I wanted to see it again. What I didn’t realize is that my first night was the only night it was showing during my stay. Don’t you love life’s little gifts?
More of the Ballet Folklórico de Mexico – traditional dance and dress from Jalisco
Indeed I was as enchanted the second time. They have added a little humor too with an endearing “diablo” character that comes out about 1/2 way through. I highly recommend it for a cultural fix next time you are in Mexico City.
Post ballet on Avenida Madero.
Having not eaten the entire day, food was the only thing on my mind at the end of the show (but really when is it not). Ricardo showed me a series of options, and we ended up at a lovely seafood restaurant called Puntarena situated in the courtyard of an old colonial mansion. Its most unique element was the vertical garden on one of its 30 foot walls. I enjoyed the atmosphere, wine and food so much (I will dream of their lobster tacos for days to come) that I came back to write this…and, er, have another 2 glass of the most delectable Mexican wines I have ever had the pleasure to taste (Chenin Blanc by Fluxus).
Mid-meal at Puntarena with Ricardo
Ricardo is currently spending his days in an old prison doing research on a book he is writing about education. The archives on his subject matter are kept in this repurposed space. His favorite joke was always about he was “let out of prison” each day to meet me. Funny.
This was #2 on “must do” list in Mexico City – Casa Azul or The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán.
Young man opening my coconut to serve me fresh coco-water.
I have been to Frida’s house twice before in my life. I made my first pilgrimage to Calle Londres in Coyoacán in college after I presented a honor’s paper on her life to my Spanish class. My second pilgrimage was in 2004. Each time it was a marvel for me to see how such a charismatic, talented and iconic personality lived. And each time I never waited to enter, but walked right in. This time was different.
When I first saw the sea of people in front of the museum I was a bit in denial given my previous 2 experiences. I asked a family of Mexicans if the winding line of humans I saw was really the “fila,” and a petite, round, middle aged woman turned to me and said, “Si.” Gasping a little I then asked, “How long do you think it will take to get in?” She waived her hand at me and said it will be “rapido.”
One and a half hours later I finally did reach the ticket booth, but had to chuckle a bit. Clearly the Mexican stereotype for their sense of time is one that is not to be overlooked… and clearly, it is one that is well earned.
Me with my coco-water and boy!
With time to kill, I decided to try my first coconut water. I asked the group of 10 Italians behind me to save my place, and then hopped over to visit the young man with a bike full of hanging coconuts and a machete. I asked for just the juice (I didn’t want a bag of the coconut meat with some red seasoning too). He then asked me if I wanted it in a plastic bag. Puzzled, I asked, “Is there any other way?” A Mexican couple on the other side of the stand smiled said I could also take it in its original coconut shell. Uh, I will do that next time.
Thirty pesos later I was back in line enjoying my coconut water and contemplating if the young girl with the shirt on that said, “Santa, Don’t Judge Me.” knew what it said. I also spent time wondering if all the vendors selling wooden combs and painted bookmarks actually did market studies to determine which novelties would sell best in the Frida Kalho Museum line.
Finally I was inside the house of one of Mexico’s most important and influential artists. She also happens to be the woman whose life most fascinates me.
The kitchen in Frida and Diego’s House.
Frida’s day bed and death mask.
Besides seeing some of Frida’s paintings, the highlight for me was witnessing her clothing for the first time. In 2004 several rooms in the Casa Azul were unsealed after Diego Rivera had requested they stay secret for 15 years after his death. Inside these rooms were Frida’s clothes as well as other photographs and important documents.
I don’t know the reason why Diego would have wanted these treasures to have stayed hidden (we all knew they were communists anyway ), but for me glimpsing at the garments that she so purposely selected for traditional reasons as well as for their ability to hide her defects made me feel closer to the woman whose life has always marveled me.
Much of her attire and jewelry was from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. I am headed there tonight in search of artisans who create the traditional pieces that so captured Frida, and now captures me.
Frida’s wheel chair and easel exactly as she left them before she died in 1957.
Me contemplating the passionate and painful life of Frida Kahlo.
In this picture I was also feeling elated to be within the walls of Casa Azul once again in my lifetime. Always makes me wonder if there will be another…
If you don’t know much about Frida Kahlo and her paintings, I encourage you to learn more. It may spur you too to plan a trip to the “Blue House” in Coyocan…just beware that you may have to wait in line a bit. Thank goodness for the boy with coconut water.
“Mr. Baguette” made me laugh heading to the museum and heading home (and btw, he is the “original one” in case you wondered).
When I think of a baguette, it is definitely always wearing a sombrero.
Post Frida’s house refreshment stop.
Frida’s surreal paintings, life’s possessions and 5 hours on my feet made me tired and thirsty so before my metro ride back to the city center I stopped at a steak house called Sonora Grill to order a glass of wine at the bar. When the mesero put all of the above in front of me I told him he must be wrong. He replied, “No. Compliments of the house.”
It was the second time I gasped that day! Unlimited pots of boiling frijoles, delicious local sauces and Mexican chardonnay?! It all equated to the perfect conclusion to a dreamy day.
And to top it off, a glass of Spanish wine with Ricardo in a restaurant that overlooked the Cathedral in the Zócalo.
Can’t wait to see the finished book, Ricardo!
Fatima and me.
My last day in Mexico City wouldn’t have been complete without some shopping. I decorated my barren neck with a lovely “alpaca” and mother of pearl necklace that I bought from this adorable shop girl, Fatima. She was the “la jeffe” (boss) of the shop, and I was told with a coy smile by her colleague that she was muy estricta. I was just happy to see that Mexico is grooming its “girl bosses” so young. Brava!
Juan and his miniature creations!
How do you capture my attention? Put anything miniature in front of me! This lovely artist of itty bitty animals made from colored puff balls had me mesmerized. I lovingly oogled his little frogs, doves, turtles, kitties, unicorns and goats for about 30 minutes, and somehow got away only spending 60 pesos ($4). However, I did help facilitate a few sales in the meantime and got to learn a bit about the life of Juan. In fact, as I was leaving Juan told me that when I come back to Mexico City, even if it is 2 or 3 years from now, to make sure I come to the same corner to find him. I will, Juan!
The Catedral de la Asunción de María de México in the Zócalo of Mexico City as seen on my walk today.
First stone laid in 1571.
My last meal in Mexico City, a bistec taco and (not in the picture) guacamole.
For the last 48 hours that I have been in the country, this has been my diet. One cannot be anti-carbs in this country. Viva la tortilla!
It is almost time for my overnight bus to Oaxaca. Clearly sleep is not important to me…
Mexico City, you get better every time. Hasta Luego y Besos!
from One Girl’s Adventures http://ift.tt/1KS6quJ