Anzuelo y el Sedal. (Hook. Line. Sinker.) Mexico…. 3 days (tres dias) and I’m already captured by its charm!
You know how you can like a person on sight; decide to buy a house before you’ve even nosed around all the rooms; make a decision sans intellectualisation? You get a feeling, in your gut or your heart? Well, within a few footfalls placed on Mexican soil , my mind was set. I’m visiting Mexico City F.D. It felt soft, kindly, almost feminine. A stark contrast to my first Latin American encounter in Argentina.
According to The Economist, Mexico City is the 3rd most polluted city in the world. My lungs would beg to differ. The belching exhaust fumes and head-height layer of cigarette smoke of Buenos Aires had me pining, gasping for the pure, crisp, air cleaned by the woods near my home in the UK. Perhaps it is the unbearable humidity in BA that holds the dirt, static and oppressive. In Colonia Condessa (and perhaps other areas too..I’ve yet to discover) two-way streets are dissected by long stretches of garden parks. Either walk on the side walk, or amidst leafy trees. This offers the feeling of a small city, despite being 2nd to Tokyo with the highest populous in an urban area.
Day 1 – Easing myself into my new surroundings, my first expedition is to navigate a path to the nearest organic, health food store. Google renders my task a simple one. Once fed, watered and an array of strange fruits and common staples are stashed in my apartment, I head out for foray number 2. Chapultepec Park. Now, I am ashamed to say my pre-visit knowledge of Mexico was slim. And I have woefully inadequate of a grasp on world history. I could blame that on a series of teachers who failed to ignite my passions and seemed to focus mostly on our knowledge of the shape of British military headdress or, latterly, the school Head who seemed to me to be a latent comedian and encouraged but one page of written work in my final year of History study. Or I could just put it down to the fact I am a kinaesthetic learner. It is a far more costly way of gaining knowledge than purchasing books or staying at home and surfing the web say, but way more fun. Chapultepec (meaning ‘at the grasshopper hill” in Nahuatl) park is huge, and is dominated by an 18th century castle. The history of which is fascinating and seems to be the lynch pin of a lot of Mexican history. The grasp of which I am steadily imbibing. If interested…Wikipedia’s got it covered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapultepec_Castle
Day 2 – Museo de Anthropologia. Ranked by http://www.TripAdivsor.com as one of the must see/do things in Mexico City. Also located in Chapultepec Park, it is a gorgeous, drool worthy, Modernist building with a central courtyard dominated by column of Mayan heiroglyphed stone, said to resemble and umbrella and ringed with falling water. My head was spinning as I went in and out of the many exhibition rooms dedicated to the various ancient Mexican cultures. Sucking up information and marvelling at the Pre-Hispanic, artefacts. They have a style and form like no other that captures my heart.
The poco (little) Spanish language I grasped whilst in Buenos Aires is trickling slowly back into my consciousness. I’ve had no time to brush up, and my moments of standing, struck dumb as the florid tones of another sing out before me, are many. No entiendo (I do not understand) is currently ranked as my most oft used word. So my human interaction has been minimal. The most conversation I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy is with a fascinating, English speaking owner of a mobile phone shop in La Condessa. I need to upgrade the amount of my human contact.
Day 3 – I’m sleeping very little. The first night I wondered at my breathless, restless bed-time experience, before remembering I was 2420m above sea level and my body was busy acclimatising. However, my 4am rising has helped with planning the coming days activities, the worry of which was probably a contributory factor to my sleep deprivation. Scribbled notes and the downsizing of my rather considerable ‘to do’ list led me to decide this day on visiting Coyoacan, a small town not far south from the City, and home to the Casa Azul (Blue House). I took a $3 pesos (15p or 9c!) Metro to Coyoacan, to the house where Frida Kahlo was born and returned to many times throughout her life. And was to be her final resting place. My love of modern art had afforded me knowledge of Frida’s work, but little of her story. Little vignettes of her words were etched on walls inside the home she and Diego Rivera shared. They gave me insights to a woman of great strength and resilience. Health was not predominant in her life but it spirited her to express herself fully, through art and love. Her passion for famous muralist husband Diego Rivera gave rise to her declaring him taking her broken and making her whole. The house has many of her quotes which display the pain of her physical (polio from birth and at eighteen she was seriously injured when a trolley car hit a bus she was travelling on. She was in bed for over a year recovering from fractures to her spine, collarbone, ribs, a shattered pelvis, shoulder, fractures in her right leg. An iron handrail pierced her uterus and took away her opportunity to be a mother) and mental health, as she fought with the sadness at her loss of fertility and the confines of her bed. Both of which gave uprising to her incredible artist expression via art. The quotes on the walls at the house led me to romantise the relationship between her and Diego. Her passion for him was fierce but upon further study and finding resources on the internet, I see their love took many guises, not all of them flowery. Their humour and razor wit, evident.
I loved Coyoacan. It has beautiful colourful architecture, cobbled streets and a relaxed vibe. A central plaza was full of Mexicans enjoying their Saturday.
Ah, so many things to see/do/learn/consider. I have much to absorb. I stand before you as a woman in perpetual learning. I do not apologise. It is a journey I am very happy to be travelling.
I am loosing shoe rubber as I pound (very clean) pavements. As ever, when I visit someplace new, my radar is set to discover a hip little cafe, with free WiFi and good low music. Last night I was grinning (not completely inwardly) as I stubbled across a half mile strip of low key (non-crazy-party) bars, restaurants and tea/coffee houses, open late and enjoying al-fresco living in the mild evening air. Hipodromo Condessa is just ten minutes from my studio. I’ve found a little space for me in the city and all is well.