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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Museo Frida Kahlo

Aloha Everyone,

La Casa Azul (the Blue House), where Frida Kahlo lived and died, is not a happy place. Frida’s vibrant, unorthodox and unimaginably tragic life was also what made her to become an iconic Mexican artist.

Frida contacted polio when she was 6 years old. It left her physically disabled and in poor health. When she was 18, a horrific traffic accident left her with lifelong pains and continuous medical problems.

A self-taught artist whose unique style and unconventional treatment of subjects was both acclaimed and reproached by the public, peers and art critics.

Frida is also known as the wife of Diego Rivera, another prominent Mexican artist. Despite the 20 years age differences plus he already had two wives, they fell in love and married. Frida and Diego’s divorce, remarriage, volatile and unfaithful relationships over the span of 25 years is documented through her paintings, biographies and movies.

Frida Kahlo was one of the idols of my Art Psychology professor. After so many years, one of the quotes by Frida Kahlo, which my instructor used to utter, came back to me.

I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”

The museum requires far more time and less visitors for one to truly appreciate the home in which Frida Kahlo lived and worked. Many of her important works are either in private collection or housed in museums around the world, leaving the collection in La Casa Azul rather disappointing.

If you live near a major museum, I urge you to view Frida Kahlo’s works. They often are not pretty or decorative. Her works are powerful, haunting, stir your senses and provoke your imaginations.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Full Day Excursion to Multiple Destinations

Aloha Everyone,

Our day began at 8:45 am when we slipped into the backseat of Claudio’s taxi.

The first stop, Museo National de las Intervenciones (National Museum of the Interventions) is located in a former monastery. Like so many important monuments, this too was built on top of an Aztec shrine. The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to when the place was used as a monastery. The upstairs rooms are reserved for displays of artifacts from different military conflicts that have taken place on Mexican soil. A multitude of exhibits tell stories of how these conflicts shaped the Republic of Mexico. The museum and the main garden are immaculately maintained. Museo National de las Intervenciones is one of five museums that are operated directly by the Instituto National de Antropología e Historia.

Museo de Frida Kahlo was a 90 minutes stop. This includes 45 minutes waiting in line to purchase tickets. While waiting, I had the pleasure of meeting Blanche & Len from Virginia.  Very interesting fellow world travelers. We exchanged contact info and promised to stay in touch. Frida Kahlo museum definitely merits a separate blog entry.

Personally I was disappointed with Mercado Coyoacán. Located in the same neighborhood as Museo de Frida Kahlo, we heard much about this market and its food stalls. Handicrafts being on displays were nothing special and the food stalls were unappealing. After buying fruits, we left.

Claudio, realizing we wanted a better looking establishment, recommended El Bajío, an upscale Mexican restaurant located in Patio Universidad. Food and service was excellent, and as a bonus, J.J. and I found a large supermarket in the basement of the shopping mall. Very grateful with our good luck, the two of us made a quick purchase of vegetables, English tea and snack items including Mexican chocolates. Mexico is a cocoa producing country tracing its roots to the Aztec period. I bought some chocolates for my Mother.

I also purchased Cream Cracker, made in Portugal, imported by Mitsubishi Foods to Tokyo, Japan and then exported to Mexico. I believe that our friends in Japan would be amused to hear about it.

We concluded the day at Xochimilco located about an hour drive in the southern section of Mexico City. This destination also merits a separate blog entry.

No we did not see everything on my list, but Claudio was an excellent driver, English speaking guide and a quasi bodyguard. After 8 hours on the road, we were happy to be safely deposited at the front entrance of our building.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Palacio de Correos de México

Aloha Everyone,
Palacio de Correos de México, the main post office in Mexico City is housed in a stunning early 20th Century palace. Adamo Boari, the original architect of the Palacio de Bellas Artes’ which is located just across a main boulevard, also designed this building.

Built in 1907, it is still a functioning post office. The two of us were able to access with no bag or security checks. First thing you see is the Impressive monumental staircase with the bronze railings that were cast in Florence, Italy.

Visiting the upper floor requires a guide which can be engaged by joining a walking tour. J.J. and I walked around the ground floor to take several photos of the accessible areas.

I usually like to send a postcard from every new countries we visit. However, one has to be prepared for mail to arrive late. Sometimes very late. Last year, it took nearly 5 weeks. Our family received their postcards from Mexico a few days after we returned to the USA.
Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dining in Mexico City, Week 3

Aloha Everyone,

The best and most memorable lunch for me this week was at an authentic Italian restaurant where they served delicious Insalata Caprese with Mozzarella  cheese and olives imported from Italy. It was so good that our friend, Flavia would have approved. J.J. enjoyed his seafood spaghetti.

This week J.J. also tried foods from a Japanese take out place. We had several interesting Mexican dishes. I also had a Vietnamese Bao which tasted far better than J.J.’s seafood tempura.

The two of us have been frequenting two panaderías (bread shops).Today we purchased two croissants for our breakfast, chocolate donut for J.J.’s afternoon snack and two healthy multigrain and nuts cookies to share after dinner. The total price of US$2.64 is a steal when you think our purchase is freshly baked goods.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Ballet Folklórico de México

Aloha Everyone,

Ballet Folklórico de Mexico was founded by Amalia Hernández in 1952. The dance and musical pieces reflect different regions and folk music genres of Mexico.

J.J. and arrived at the Palacio de Bellas Artes early and by 9:10 am, we were ushered to our seat in the center orchestra section.

Our usual experience in watching a theatrical performance is that we are given a handout or a master of ceremony introduces the program. Neither happened. The program commenced starting with an invigorating, energetic drum piece by a solo drummer. He was soon joined by 24 drummers on stage augmented by other drummers in the balcony section.

I misunderstood about photography using iPhone. You are prohibited to do videography, but photography without flash is allowed. I missed the drummers. Here is a selection of photos of dancers in traditional costumes.

Two performances aside from the drummers stood out. One was Alebrije, a Mexican mystical creature which I fell in love with on our previous visit to Mexico. The second was a depiction of hunters and hunted. Without further research, I cannot say whether the dance illustrated Aztec warriors. When the “deer” is killed the appreciative audience gave him a standing ovation for the performance.

US$50 per person for a quality show that lasted 90 minutes was well worth it.

Aloha -- Cathi