Oaxaca Stories and Tips

Mexico Day Seven -- Back in Mexico City

Mexico Day Seven - Back in Mexico City Photo, Oaxaca, Mexico

Back in Mexico City for the last day of our 11 day trip. We just wanted to catch up with some of the sights we had missed during the busy holiday week.

We took the Metro to the Palacio de Bellas Artes for the Luis Barragan exhibit. The New York Times featured the architect's work in their House & Home section before we left for this trip. There is also Casa Barragan, the architect's private house, which reopened for the new year but unfortunately required an appointment for a guided tour.

The Torre Latinoamericana is right outside the Bellas Artes. It has a viewing platform with telescopes on the 44th floor. We chose not to go up as we've already seen the smoggy city from Monte Alb. Around is Alameda Central, once the Aztec market and then the place of execution during the Spanish Inquisition. We missed the Museo Mural Diego Rivera at the park's west end. It houses Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central which was removed from the Hotel del Prado after the 1985 earthquake.

We did get to visit the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan. Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul or blue house is where she resided while married-slash-separated from Diego Rivera. They were remarried but lived in separate houses to allow private times with their queridas, or concubines. Frida Kahlo had an affair with Leon Trotsky, who has his own museum down the street. It has been said that Diego Rivera ran after Isamu Noguchi when he caught him with his wife.

Most of the original house plan remains intact. The kitchen still has their names in mosaic tiles. Her wheelchair is eerily parked in front of an unfinished canvas. Her bookshelf houses some of the most interesting titles. Her small bedroom is also arranged the way she left it, with photos of Communist leaders (including Mao Zedong) on the wall, some of her doll collection, a mirror on the ceiling of her bed's canopy and her plaster chest cast she painted after one of the accidents in 1951 that impaired her for the rest of her life. There is a reproduction of The Two Fridas (1939) out in the main hallway. Her journal rests inside a glass case showing some of its colorful pages. The tondo-shaped Still Life (1942), commissioned by the wife of Mexico's then-president Camacho and rejected because of its sexual references is displayed. Alongside it is Viva La Vida (1954), Long Live Life, painted before she succumbed to pulmonary embolism (or suicide, whichever you believe).

Before midnight, we checked out of Hostal Moneda and they arranged a cab ride to the airport the next morning.

All in all, Mexico was a whole new experience for us even though it's the fourth Spanish-speaking country we've visited. It's the kind of place where our being Asian did not come into play. No one cared and no one stared. We fended for ourselves using our little knowledge of Spanish. We planned what we could ahead of time and left the rest to adventure.

Stops:

Palacio de Bellas Artes
10am to 8pm, P30 each

Torre Latinoamericana
9am to 11pm, P35 to go up

Museo Mural Diego Rivera
10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Museo Frida Kahlo or Casa Azul
Allende and Londres 247, Tuesday to Sunday for P35. No photos allowed.

Reads and Resources
I read Hayden Herrera's Frida Kahlo: The Paintings before my trip and brought with me Sandra Cisneros' inspiring Caramelo. As for guides, we used Footprints' Mexico Handbook and Moon's Oaxaca Guide. Google and hostelworld.com were both indispensable.

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