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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mexico City revisited 2

The first thing I did after putting Phyllis on the plane was to borrow Alfonso's bike system card and head off for a ride. I no longer remember the order of where I went or what I did over the next days but it was nice to be biking again. So, this will be a rather scattered account of my time here as it's kind of a blur. Cycling around the neighbourhood one day I came upon what I discovered was an Alebrijes competition. Alebrijes are carved and brightly painted wooden figures of all sizes originating in Oaxaca. Some are of animals, frogs, chickens, deer, and some of fantastical creatures. These ones were huge, made of paper mâché and other material. There were hundreds of them displayed in the middle of a boulevard. Quite an arresting sight.

The caption on this one is, "My First Alebrijes"





Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mexico City revisited 1


Poor Phyllis. As we were leaving Guanajuato she began to come down with that cold again and by the time we got back to Mexico City, she was in rough shape. Next morning it was back to the doctor, a much more professional appearing but very curt guy, who gave her an antibiotic injection and prescription for three more. So for her remaining days in DF we had to schlepp to a clinic to get the shots administered. Certainly not the hoped for Mexican experience for her. However, she still had some energy to get out for some sightseeing and one of the places on her agenda was the residence of Diego Rivera located in San Angel on the south end of town, and where he had his studio.

The home was designed by his friend and artist, Juan O'Gorman in the early thirties and the architectural style was very unusual for Mexico at that time.

Owing to the famously tumultuous nature of their relationship, there are actually two houses on the property, one where Frida Kahlo lived and one for Diego with a bridge between the two.

Here many of her most famous works were created and in Diego's house was stored much of his collection of historical artefacts.

Diego's nativity scene

That pretty much used up Phyllis' energy for the day. For her last day in Mexico, I took her to the Chapultepec Castle, one of the major attractions in Mexico City and one I'd never seen. Chapultepec Castle is located on top of Chapultepec Hill.

The name Chapultepec stems from the Nahuatl word chapoltepēc which means "at the grasshopper's hill. It is located in the middle of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City at a height of 2,325 meters (7,628 ft) above sea level. The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs and the buildings atop it have served several purposes during its history, including that of Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, observatory, and presently, the Museo Nacional de Historia. It is the only royal castle in North America that was actually used as the residence of a sovereign: the Mexican Emperor Maximilian I, and his consort Empress Carlota, lived there during the Second Mexican Empire. (From Wikipedia). Originally built for a Spanish viceroy, the castle is quite a magnificent place housing furnishing of Maximilian and Carlota as well as art and artefacts from Mexico's colonial period including modern pieces from some of the greats.

That took up most of the day and all of Phyllis' energy thus bringing to an end to her Mexican holiday. First thing next morning I helped her get to her flight and she started her what I later learned was her torturous journey home. And, I'm sorry to say, as of this writing she is still very ill.















Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa Rosa and Guanajuato odds and ends

A favourite little town of mine is Santa Rosa, nestled up in the hills about a twenty minute bus ride from Guanajuato. It's known for its lovely location, ceramics and cool weather.

When I announced our intention to go there to the hotel staff and others, their response was, "mucho frio!" Very cold. It was anything but. Arriving there we strolled in warm sunshine along a dirt road looking out over the hills and down to Guanajuato, then back into town through the extremely quiet streets. Quite a contrast to Guanajuato. Many of the houses were brightly painted with painted or tiled flower borders around windows and doors.

One in particular caught our eye. It turned out to be a ceramics outlet for the factory located in town. We walked into a small showroom where a few pieces were displayed and proceeded down a flight of stairs to a cavernous room where thousands of pieces of all sizes and descriptions, tableware, vases, jugs, urns, whatever, were for sale, not really to my taste but impressive for the sheer quantity. Sorry, no photos allowed.

Leaving there, we walked to where the sidewalk ended which wasn't far then found a nice lunch spot with outdoor seating looking out over the mountains. Unless you're into hiking, there isn't much else to do in Santa Rosa so we caught the bus back to town stopping at the La Valenciana church on the way.

Built by Antonio de Obregon y Alcocer, the Conde de Valenciana (Count of Valenciana), original owner of the La Valenciana silver mine, the church is one of the finest example of Churrigueresque (Spanish Baroque) architecture and the mine accounted for two-thirds of the world’s silver production at the height of its production.

I've heard a couple of different stories about what prompted the mine owner to build it. One had to do with a promise he made to God that if he got rich from the mine he would build a fine church. The other is that it was to atone for horrible treatment of the miners, mostly indigenous people, at his hands. Neither may be true but the church facade and alter are totally over the top ornate.

Most of the neighbourhoods in the old part of Guanajuato aren't accessible by car so everything has to be carried up or down the steep callejóns. Guys selling water (those 5 gallon jugs, three at a time), propane tanks (all cooking and water heaters use these), all building materials (I watched a guy stack up 17 courses of bricks, 3 to a course on the back of a pickup, lift it on his back with a trump line and carry it down the hill and have seen them do the same going blocks uphill as well as sacks of concrete), sides of beef, you name it.

The people selling stuff like the water or gas or knife sharpening all have their distinctive call. They wander around the neighbourhoods calling out; that's the advertising.

Random shots

Me and Phyllis
Morning juice - fresh squeezed and mmmmmm good - orange, grapefruit, beet, papaya, mango, melon, green (spinach, cucumber, pineapple and more), carrot - or any combination


Here's to ya!