Raising Eybrows

The Frida Kahlo Home and Museum….

Frida Kahlo is one of the most instantly recognizable artists in the world. Inspired by folk art, politics, and her own personal pain, she only started seriously painting at the age of 18. Her art is on display in museums and galleries all over Mexico, but the best place to start understanding her is her former home and birthplace, Casa Azul, here in Mexico City.

A leisurely wake up today to another cool morning, we had a 10:00 appointment for our tour of the blue house. The crowds were already arriving for the timed appointments every half hour. When we left at about 11:30 the line was well down the block with people already waiting at the 2:30 sign.

Frida was born here and died her, and did most of her work here. It’s a treasure trove of her life works, artifact collections, and work by her husband, the famous Mexican artist/muralist, Diego Rivera, with whom she shared the house. Letters, diaries, and ceramics are everywhere.

Frida broke her back in a serious street car accident and started seriously painting during her convalescence. Soon after she married the 20 years older Rivera, his third. Her iconic style of dress emulated matriarchal indigenous cultures, expressing her anti-colonial and strong feminist beliefs. She is still beloved because of those, at the time, very important, bold stances. She and Rivera lived in the USA for a few years while he worked on important mural commissions. Later they divorced (after a series of affairs by both), and then remarried.

Frida’s studio, designed around her disability. The pain from her back injury inspired much of her painfully expressive works.

X Marks Unexpected Xochimilco

From Frida’s we bussed off to Xochimilco (Xo) to find the network of canals and vegetable plots created by the Aztecs, and still in use today. Our guide information touts the floating gardens of this UNESCO World Heritage site. What we find is a “sea” of floating humans partying on colorful trajinera (punt) boats poled along by strong and “balanced” men and women. It is a wild scene reminiscent of a combination of bumper cars, the floating sales people of Vietnam, wedding receptions, and saloons by a naval base spitting out drunken sailers. In other words, “a really good time”.

NOT the drunken sailors…yet….

Xo is know as the “place of the flower fields” in Nahuatl, the once spoken Aztec language. It was once a lakeside village connected by causeway to Tenochtitlan, the historic city where Mexico City now stands. It USED to have canals and semi-floating flower and vegetable gardens. These “china maps were created on a base of aquatic roots, covered with soil. It is still an important source of flowers and vegetables. The northern part of the wetlands is preserved as a habitat for storks, hummingbirds, eagles, and egrets. But, the park is going through a long-needed renovation…so, we only get to see the “other” fun part!

It is an amazing cultural sight and experience anyway. First appearing to be a tourist trap, when you look around, you begin to understand this is an important place for local families, teens, lovers, people celebrating life events, and just plain getting away. Not too different from our “down to the beach” events. Here, floating on the water though. Not many tourists at all. A giant local smile. We almost decided to go beyond a refreshing beer to a pulque, a slightly sour drink made from fermented agave sap, flavored with fruit and nuts. Mischel doesn’t tempt us with his huge drink of something like Clamato juice mixed with beer and loaded with fiery spices within and painted on the sides of the cup (for licking like a candy volcanic candy cane).

We hopped off the boat (don’t think it was in the plan) and stepped up to the lawn of a little house on the bank. It was loaded with “sculptures” of what our grandkids would probably say were kind of Pokémon characters.

The explanation was in a broken English/Spanish that seemed to “explain” a legend of people doing some “unsure” things and via salamanders (they had live ones there too) would be transformed into this mythological figures. Uh, please correct me in the comments if you have a better explanation. Anyway, they collected our 100 pesos for the stories, and we said adios as we jumped back onto the boats to finish our visit.

It was another long, jam-packed, lots-of-fun day, and were were ready for some light local fare before retiring. Our concierge suggested her favorite very local, “very much the best”, casual taco place. Off to Taqueria Los Cocuyos, packed with people waiting to be served at the walk up window and crowded inside. We found a table, but could not find anyone who could speak English…or translate the menu, below.

Our waiter was patiently terrific trying to explain the fillings that aren’t in Google translate (we really tried). Suffice it to say this is not a tourist place and none of the items were carnitas, chicken or fish. We discovered they were almost all local delicacies of offal; tongue, cheeks, tripe, eyes, brains…you get the idea. I like tongue and can tolerate brains, so I was OK, but Marsha stuck to the Pastor which was something like meat sliced off a spit for a Greek gyro. It was pork and good. All the tacos were deliciously flavored and textured. And, the above prices are in pesos (currently ~20 to the dollar). Yes delicious tacos at $1 each. To bed, satisfied.

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6 Responses to Raising Eybrows

  1. Binnie Thom says:

    I love those sculptures! And I’m sorry that I can understand what’s on the menu!

  2. I remember going to the Floating gardens of Xochimilco on a trip to Mexico in 1964. Summer after my junior year in high school. Bet they are different now.

  3. Not much left of the pig/cow after than menu! I could recognize maybe 4 items. Probably all of them delicious.

  4. Hi Marsha and Joel, I am loving your trip. We lived in Mexico for a year in the 70’s. We rented a home in Cuernavaca. I think the sculptures you saw are called abrijes. They are meant to ward off evil spirits. I have one in our home and he doesn’t seem to be working very hard. Keep having a great time! Judy

  5. Sada Sat says:

    Yes! We loved their house…. one of our favorite things we did in Mexico City!

  6. judylobo – I think - therefore I am
    judylobo says:

    Loved this post

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