Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mexico's Due January 15-23, 2016

Before the purgatory of work, it's great to be on the road again, even if only for a month. This time my trusty wingman Trish is back in the saddle, joined for a few days with long haul loner Marc Brown in his annual escape from the real cold.

For those who think of Mexico either as a hotbed of crime and drugs or beach resorts,..,.well that's like seeing Canada only as hockey and cold.

Yea it also gets cold in Mexico, maybe not minus 20 but an unheated room in the hills at12 degrees is pretty chilly. The great white, long haul loner can attest to that.

For 20,000 years, millions of monarch butterflies have migrated to an area a few hours drive and a few hours on horse and hike west of Mexico City.

We had hoped to see clouds of the orange and black critters. Instead most of them were dormant in their camouflaged grey, stuck onto trees. This was rather disappointing, a veritable Devil's Elbow.
Trish was so bummed out at the critters' inactivity she threw sticks at them. They had the last laugh.

Bizarre and campy, pro wrestling aka Luchas Libre has long and deep roots in Mexico, having proceeded the U.S. and Cdn versions. Colorful masked fighters, many of whom come from generations of wrestling, duke it out in simple story lines of good vs evil, revenge and honor. 

Supported by big boobed cheerleaders, dwarves and a raucous crowd, it makes for a wonderful primal experience.

Teotihaucan is one of the most mysterious pyramid complexes in the world. It's not certain how and why they were built and who was in charge. Quite frankly the Mayan ones in the Yucatan are more interesting, but these are bereft of the bus loads of Cancun day trippers so call it even.
Despite Marc's stunning growth spurt,The Temple of the Sun is the worldest 3rd largest ancient pyramid (the first 2 honours go to Cheops and another Egyptian biggie)

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent had the best scary faces. Check out  what it looks now and probably did 2000yrs ago in a repro in the Anthropology museum 

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul
The blue house where she grew up, lived, painted, hobnobbed with Trotsky and the creme de la creme of the lefty and art world, incl her 300lb on again off again hubbie Diego Rivera.

This is the Two Fridas, which is actually hung in the mod Art museum, a bust of a tourist destination except for her self portrait of her broken heart after one of many stormy break ups with Diego.
Casa Azul is set in resplendent gardens and even had a pyramid,

Even if you don't care for surrealism, you can't help but be moved by her courage, her tragedy, and amazing life.
Born with polio and having suffered a horrifying streetcar accident at age 18(eg.,handrail went through her hip and into her vagina), she would go through 30 operations in her life, with amputations).
It was while convalescing that she learned to paint, often doing so while in bed.
A black belt fashionista with her own sense of style and design, even her corsets had panache.
She designed her hair and clothes to draw your eyes away from her deformed leg and feet.

Her kitchen entertained her philandering Diego Rivera, Trotsky whom she had an affair with (ok, everybody in Mexico slept with her, and Diego---incl Frida's sister) and anybody and everybody in the left and nouveau art world.

Palacio Nacional
You can't speak of Frida without the hulking 300lb shadow of Diego Rivera nearby. In the National Palace some of his most famous murals hang.

The Palace also had a superb exhibit on masks from around the world.

Museo de Anthropolgie
Failing to persuade Marc to stay behind with us (he would drive towards a ferry to Baja), we hoof it over to one of the finest museums in Mexico, perhaps the world...with a fantastic display and collection of Aztecan and Mayan pieces, in a wonderful space.
This Aztecan fountain supports a massive roof.

The Centro Historico area is a vast UNESCO site with about 1500 heritage buildings and monuments.

Casa Azulujenos....House of Tiles, an Art Deco gem

Along Madero Ave.

Plaza Constitution is one of the world's largest squares. It's also sight to the latest Bond film's exhilarating opening sequence.
As for cops and heavily armed military, they were everywhere. It's said that there is a cop for every 100 locals, some of whom it appears, will gladly look the other way for a small tip. Nevertheless, the major tourist spots and Roma Norte where we rented a killer apt felt very safe. 

Palacios Bellas Artes
This neo-classical/Art Deco gem more than any other spot, made us regret we didn't have a proper camera.

Mexico proper is dominated by two volcanoes. Of which many of the 22 million are sardined into barrios on the hills. Impossible to escape seeing them on the way to Teotihuacan. Ok, likely not a good place to wander about with flashy gear unless u want sweaty young men to feel you up. 

Yet Mexico's core is surprisingly clean, the efficient subway is only 40 cents CDN--I call that free, the streets and tone are urbane and safe, English is widely spoken and the people, vendors are very friendly and helpful. The near absence of hordes of teams of beggars. Fantastic street food at rock bottom prices, endless historical riches, sleek modern landscapes and cutting edge architecture goes unmissed by most of the 23 million visitors to the country who instead beeline to resorts and gated communities. Fools.

Sleek modern buildings..,,

Right from the get go we all fell in love with blue corn quesadillas....anywhere from 14-20 pesos ($1.2-1.8cdn) a pop

Five mini tacos for 20 pesos, or $1.75 CDN. Almost all street food is cheap, clean, sanitary and regulated. After the hygiene hell of India, this is  Nirvana.
World class Luchadores with Canadian accents.
Of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, some are in the US (eg New Orleans , St. Louis), a few in South Africa, and all the rest in drug-centred barrios in Latin America. Raise your hand if you think Mexico City is one of them. I did. Wrong.
This city is a myth buster and we think it's time you were due for Mexico.

Next: Miami

For Wayne Ng's latest travel adventures and book " Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu ," please go to his website and blog at...