Mexico City II

Now, where were we? Everyone back at work now? How's that going? I trust you had a nice break.

Since the last post the highlight of Mexico City has almost certainly been Casa Azul - the house Frida Kahlo grew up in, eventually died and also accommodated both Diego Rivera at various times and Leon Trotsky (with whom Frida had an affair in the house).

It houses a reasonably large collection of her artworks as well as a bunch of her trademark Oaxacan Mixtec dresses and various other affects including her ashes. It is the only tourist attraction in all of Mexico that we've had to really line up for with throngs of tourists pouring in.

One thing that really stood out to me was the importance of Communism to Kahlo in particular. She even painted a picture of herself with Stalin and Marx featured in a few paintings. One of her old body casts was on display with a hammer an sickle painted on right in the middle of her chest. Both Kahlo and Rivera have the dubious honour of having switched elegances from Trotsky to Stalin, there can't be too many in that category (or at least few still admit it).

Around the corner was the house that Trotsky moved into after his stint at Casa Azul. All the windows are bricked up and there are gun turrets on several corners of the compound. There were two attempts on his life in that house. The second in 1940, an ice pick to the back of the head, was successful.

It's a thrilling piece of historical memorabilia that we really enjoyed, putting a really fascinating period of history into context.

While on our Kahlo/Rivera binge we also went out San Ángel to El Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo the house that Diego's friend and architect Juan O'Gorman built for them. The best bit about it is the architecture. It's essentially two houses joined by a bridge. If you're married to someone and you build two houses (one for each of you) and join them by a bridge to symbolise your love, alarm bells should be ringing. And yes, Rivera was shagging Kahlo's sister which ultimately triggered their divorce.

We had lunch across the road from the house at the San Ángel Inn which is really beautiful old hotel that Pancho Villa and Emillio Zapata met in during the Mexican revolution to agree on a structure of governance between north (Villa) and south (Zapata).

Speaking of meals, we ventured out to the ritzy suburb of Polanco which houses Mexico's equivalent of the Kings Road in Chelsea. We had made a reservation at one of Mexico City's top restaurant, Pujol, and my god it was good. Mexican cuisine but super fancy. Gourmet tacos FTW!

We ventured into Zócalo (the main square) again to visit the main Cathedral (quite impressive but we've been living in Europe...) and the Palacio Nacional which has a few Rivera murals of course. It is striking how government buildings like this are so open to the public. I'm constantly amazed at the way one just walks into these government buildings without any question. There's a lesson in civics there that I quite like. The public own these buildings and should have full access to them.

Mexico is full of craft markets and Mexico City goes one better by having quite a few really big (sometimes state-sponsored) craft markets that house treasures from across this ethically diverse country. We have visited quite a few of these markets now and our total number of purchases is one. They are pretty amazing things just rammed with all sort of delights, most of which are too expensive for these cash-strapped travellers.

And while we're on craft we also paid a visit to the Museum of Popular Art which contains a wide range of more modern interpretations of the multi-faceted cultural output of this diverse country.

Which only leaves me one last thing to mention, we went to Arena Mexico for a Lucha Libre show. The production values are much higher in the big smoke than in Guadalajara with actual barriers to prevent spectators being hit by flying Luchadores. I can't get enough of it.

The crowd was bigger and very vocal with a constant barrage of insults and encouragement - a pattern to which I couldn't pick or understand for that matter. But there were some real superstars of the circuit on display, at least I assume so given I've seen their masks for sale around the traps.

Another 9 days in the capital and still plenty to get done. I'll let you know how we get on.

Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Casa Azul
Palacio Nacional
Palacio Nacional
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Museum of Popular Art
Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre

Mexico City II
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