Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Getting through U.S.airport security was easier this time as we repacked our bags to make all of our electronic gear easier to see. Last time it completely freaked them out – all those wires and boxes! After breezing through Mexican Immigration (no fingerprints or retinal scans or whatever it is they do in the USA), we caught a cab to Coyoacan and Angeles’ flat. She welcomed us in to her 4th floor (phew, stairs) apartment and it was like yesterday when we were there before. It even seemed as if her little cat Zaha remembered us!
That night we met her friend Daniel and he took us all out to a restaurant downtown, or rather tried to, it was shut along with several other places. It was the day after Independence Day and a lot of places were shut up. Eventually they led us to a place through a bookstore and left into… a huge colonial atrium where tables were packed with diners, quite a surprise. Downstairs was full but we managed to find a place up on the balcony and ate our first Mexican meal. We had among other things Chilli en Nogada, a seasonal dish with a stuffed green pepper, covered in creamy nutty sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. Green, white and red, the colours of the Mexican flag, a patriotic dish for independence day. Tasty too!
It was a good intro to Mexico with all the people thronging the streets and the excitement of the city. On the way back it began to rain and people hid under the overhanging eaves of the streets as the big raindrops fell. It was a short lived shower and we missed most of it, but it left the air feeling fresh. Daniel dropped us back at the flat and we slept well that night, it had been a long day all the way from Phoenix to Mexico City…
Throughout our week in DF we managed to see some of the sights we missed last time including the Anthropological Museum and the Canals of Xochimilco. Fran also re-visited the Casa Azul, here is her blog post on that visit.
The museo de anthropologia is a vast collection of pre-hispanic artefacts and completely fascinating. It is laid out around a central plaza with about eight different ‘salas’ or halls filled with antiquities from the Mayans to the Aztecs, including the vast Olmec heads from Veracruz. (See more pics here.)
There was so much here it was impossible to take it all in in one day, the beauty and craftsmanship is hard to describe, and that is without all the gold the Spanish stole and melted. The museum is situated in a park just out of the centre and surrounded by vast roads that were pretty scary to cross – it’s a good distance from the metro too and at times it felt like echoes of the States, with an endless onslaught of traffic. We managed to get to and from the metro in one piece though.
The metro is a good transit system and incredibly cheap. One journey, which could be from one side of the city to the other, costs just 3 pesos (15p), compare that with the London Underground where a single ticket costs what, £4.00?? Plus you get the added bonus of people trying to sell you bootleg CD’s and DVD’s complete with a portable stereo in their backpack. To quote Madness: “There’s always something going on and it’s usually quite loud”.
Fran also got very excited about the lovely little symbols used to represent each stop (we live on the Coyote).
I had some work to finish which I did at the flat while Fran made her pilgrimage to Frida’s house and on the Wednesday we took the trolley bus and Tren Ligero (Suburban light train) to Xochilmilco. This was the original part of Ancient Mexico City where the pre-hispanic people built big sand banks or ‘chinampas’ in the massive lake. These were then cultivated and the area became the garden of the city, providing it with all its food. Today the area is much smaller than it was as the Spanish, bless ‘em, mostly destroyed it, but there are still 180 kilometres of canals which permeate the area. These days it is a huge tourist attraction and on the weekends hundreds of ‘trajineras’, the brightly painted gondolas or punts throng the canals and other boats filled with floating musicians ply their trade, along with food and drink sellers. We were there on Wednesday however and we were almost the only boat on the water. It was muy tranquilo, but we still managed to get a song from a Mariachi band, see video, and ate our comida from a floating kitchen. This place has a Frida Kahlo association too as it is where she famously copped off with Trotsky.
Check the vid here:
That evening we all dined out at a charming little restaurant near Coyoacan. We sat on the balcony overlooking a little square with a church and drank martinis in the balmy evening. When I say martinis I mean Mexican martinis with exciting names like soft machine, blue blood, and black gold, they were two for the price of one that night and it seemed only right to sample a few, salud!
A week in DF went by very quickly and soon were packing our suitcases again and preparing to travel with Angeles to her ‘country retreat’ in Tepoztlan…
See you there