Friday, July 26, 2013

Mexico City

When I attended ASU I took a class on Mexican art history and since then I've wanted to visit the second biggest city in the world Mexico City and this summer I was blessed enough to be able to finally take this trip! Mexico is full of history, art and culture! I just want to learn everything about my culture and ancestors.  This trip just open a can of warms.  The six days I spent in Mexico City where not enough to see everything on my list, I know I will definitely go back and explore this great city and maybe run the Mexico City Marathon next year.

The trip to Mexico City almost didn't happen, a couple of days before my grandma got sick and was in the hospital, I felt bad leaving on the trip and leaving her in the hospital but I talked to her and she was like go ahead and take your trip you been planning this for many months and I will see you when you get back but make sure you visit La Basilica de Guadalupe.  I felt much better taking the trip with her blessing.  

My little Frida (my niece Leslie), cousin Ma Luisa and my aunt Ofelia took this trip with me. The bus ride took around 12 hours. As soon as I walked out from the bus station I felt a wired feeling like I been there before.  We took a taxi to our hotel that was down town close to El Palacio de Bellas Artes. You hear all this crazy stories about cab drivers ripping you off and getting mug so getting on that taxi was a little scary.

We checked in our hotel and decided to rest for a couple of hours before taking off to explore the city.  Our first stop was El Zocalo which was about 3 blocks from our hotel. El Zocalo is the main plaza in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City formal name is Plaza de la Constitucion.  El zocalo is the gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times, site of Mexican ceremonies, independence ceremonies, religious events and national celebration and national protest.

Our next stop was El Templo Mayor which is one block away from El Zocalo and next to Catedral Metropolitana de Ciudad de Mexico. Based on the legend the Aztecs lived in the north region of what is Mexico now.  Their God Mexitli, God of war order them to build a city  in the place where they find a eagle standing on a cactus and eating a snake.  July 26, 1325 the Aztecs found the eagle in what is in present day El Zocalo.  In that time the area did not have firm ground it in fact was a lagoon.  They had to build an artificial island.  They named that place Mexico- Tenochtitlan and they built temples dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc.  After the conquer of the Aztecs by the Spaniards in 1521.  Templo Mayor, like most of the rest of the city, was taken apart and then covered over by the new Spanish colonial city.  The Aztec city of Tenochtitlan lays under the present day Zocalo and Catedral Metropolitana.
Leslie and Me at Templo Mayor

In Templo Mayor, in the background you can see the cathedral
I'm just fascinated with all the history this great city has, I've always enjoyed reading about the Aztecs and their history.  It was a whole different thing to experience it in real life and no just reading about it and looking at pictures.  We wanted to visit El Palacio Nacional theirs a Diego Rivera mural in it but it was close due to a group of teachers protesting in El Zocalo maybe next time I visit Mexico City I will be able to visit El Palacio. 

Day number two I feel was our busiest day our first stop was El Museo Nacional de Arte which was about 3 blocks away from our hotel.  This museum had pieces of art of all the well know Mexican artist and also the not so well know.  I got to see pieces by Rufino Tamayo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Ramon Cano Manilla, Guadalupe Posada, Ramulo Pozo, Guillermo Kahlo, Amado de la Cueva and many more Mexican artist.

Our 3 stop of the day was Museo Mural Diego Rivera which is across the street from Las Alamedas where Palacio de Bellas Artes is located.  Diego Rivera got commission by the Mexican Government to paint various murals in government buildings.  This was his only mural I got to see in Mexico City.  Diego truly is a Mexican jewel, a very talented painter.

The Mural "Sueno de una tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central" (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central) This mural was commission by the architect Carlos Obregon Santacilia in Versailles restaurant at the hotel Prado. The hotel go destroyed during the 1985 earthquake and the mural was restored and moved to his own museum. Diego condensed about 400 years of Mexican history and the mural depicts famous people and events in the history of Mexico. Some of the famous personalities depicted in the mural are Hernan Cortez Spanish conquistador who lead the over thrown on the Aztec empire.  Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz self taught scholar and poet.  Benito Juarez served as the President of Mexico for 5 terms and writer of one of my favorite quotes "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz" (respect for the rights of others is peace.) Francisco I. Madero, writer, revolutionary and 33rd president of Mexico.  I cant explain the feeling I get each time I see a piece of art that has inspired me.  I love to get up close and look at each stroke the artist painted and to see all the colors.

The next stop of the day was Parque Chapultitec, there where 4 different museums I wanted to visit in the park but I only got to see two because of time.  Our first stop in the park was Museo de Arte Moderno.
We where walking through the museum and I usually take my time looking and reading description specially when the museum has tons of painting that I've only seen in books.  My niece, cousin and aunt walked ahead of me too another section of the gallery, my niece comes back to me with a huge smile on her and super excited she comes behind me puts her hands over my eyes and says come with me i have something to show you! she takes me to the next gallery and takes her hands off my eyes, by far the best surprise and moment of my trip I am standing in front of my favorite Frida Kahlo painting Las Dos Fridas!!

I love this little girl! she is awesome! the first time I saw this painting in real life was in San Francisco, they put on a special solo show to celebrate her 100th birthday and I had the opportunity to travel to San Fran and visit the show.  Its an amazing painting, I just feel a special connection with this painting. Frida painted this shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera, it shows her emotions surrounding her separation and martial crisis.  The right Frida is the part of her person which was respected and loved by Diego, the left a more European Frida in a Victorian Wedding dress, the Frida Diego abandoned.

Our last museum of the day was Museo De Antropologia this museum is HUGE!! Mexico has so much history.  This museum showcase thousands of archaeological pieces from all the regions of Mexico.  They have 11 different regions, we only had enough time to visit 6 sections Culturas del Norte, Culturas del Occidente, Culturas del area Maya, Culturas de la Costa del Golfo, Culturas de Oaxaca and Centro de Mexico Pos-clasico tardio. Los Mexicas.  When I return to Mexico city I will visit this museum again and probably spend a whole day there because their is so much to see.  

On day 3 we visited Polyform Cultural Siqueiros and the Teotihuacan Pyramids.  To make our trip more economic we rode the city subway, you hear all this crazy stories about Mexico City, that its one of the unsafest cities in the world but during our stay I never felt afraid to roam around the city and use public transportation.

Our first visit of the day was Polyform Cultural Siqueiros.  David Alfaro Siqueiros was one of the big 3,  one of Mexico's best known muralist.  The theater is the home of the mural La Marcha de la Humanidad, which is one of the biggest murals in the world.  The mural covers the walls and celling of the theater it also expands to the out side walls of the theater.  The mural is a gran metaphor about the struggles of women and men throughout history; the search of a better society for everyone, in this sculpture-mural Siqueiros consider necessary to express his restlessness and give it connotation of agitation and propaganda, which had been his constant topic to most of his murals.

Our next stop of the day was the great Teotihuacan.  Teotihuacan is about an hour outside the city, so we went on a little adventure and rode the metro to central camionera norte and from there took a bus to Teotihuacan it was less expensive than taking a tour bus or taxi. When we arrived it had just stopped raining, you could feel a cool breeze and a peaceful and calm atmosphere.  Their wasn't many tourist so we really got to enjoy our journey up the Sun Pyramid.  The pyramid was located on the east side of the Avenue of the Dead in the northern half of the city. If the area of monumental construction between the Moon Pyramid and the San Juan Canal is regarded as the central zone of the city, the Sun Pyramid is located at its middle. In addition to its geographic centrality, the importance of the pyramid is indicated by a cave located under the structure. It is believed by certain scholars that the cave was used for ritual activities, and why the pyramid was constructed where it is today.

Saturday morning was the day I had been waiting for years!! I would go visit La Casa Azul for the first time and I got to visit it on a very special day, Frida Kahlo's Birthday July 6! La Casa Azul deserves a blog post of his own soon too come!

Sunday morning I had the Gatorade 15k,  I had been running and swimming when I was in Durango so I felt prepared to run 9 miles.  My only concern was the difference of altitude.  It was the perfect run! the weather was perfect, tons of people on the run course and plenty of hydration and Gatorade on the run course. The course was around the Chapultepec forest. I was so pumped that I decided to come back next year and run the Mexico City Marathon 2014. It was a great Sunday morning run.

 For most of the run i was running behind a Mexican triathlete which I thought was pretty cool and pushed me to keep up with her.

One cool thing on the course was every runner had a board with their name and number,  they started around mile 3 and the boards continue all the way to the finish line! 
At the finish line the volunteer received us with applause's and congratulations, In none of my races I had experience that.  The finisher medal was the shape of a dog tag and functional USB.

The run wasn't far away from our hotel so we decided to walk down Calle Reforma where the Angel de Independecia is located. On Sunday morning they close this major street for runners, cyclist and walkers. It was a nice walk down to our hotel room, I felt like a local.

She got a little tired of walking! I remember when she was born, she is growing up way too fast but I'm glad I had the opportunity to bringing her with me to this great city. Our next big trip will be New York City for her 8th grade promotion, can't wait for our next adventure together.

Our last major tourist visit of our trip was to La Basilica de La Virgen de Guadalupe. This was truly a religious experience. I've been to many new churches and never felt what I did when I walked into the basilica.  My eyes tear up and couldn't hold them back.  I'm not sure how to express what I felt, it was a mixture of joy, love, happiness, calmness, peace, gratefulness. I was just overwhelmed with emotions.  If you ever come visit Mexico City visiting the basilica is a must, believer or not I'm sure you will have the same experience has me.

This trip was an amazing experience, a trip that I been wanting to take for years but never seemed to find the time or firmly decide that I will take this trip.  I am truly blessed to have had this wonderful opportunity to see and explore this city. I know I will be back soon.

Love and Peace,  Running Frida

check back soon for La Casa Azul Post 

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