This is not an extensive travelogue and it doesn’t cover all I saw during my trip, but rather these are some really subjective impressions of traveling in and around Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Puebla recently with my 24-year-old daughter. She is such a private person, and so far the only way she has allowed me to show her image on this blog is through this caricature a wonderful artist did for us. She’s beautiful and as the portrait suggests, she looks young for her age. She’s a sweetheart but don’t let appearances fool you: She’s also a tough cookie.
Before getting to Mexico, I had a feeling that it would be a life-altering trip for me and I wasn’t wrong. In addition to wanting to see my daughter, I was well overdue to shake up my routine, get away from worries, clear my head, and just relax. Being around my daughter’s energy was a huge factor in helping bring me back in balance.
At first, I was a bit nervous about the trip because my Spanish is not very good. However, it’s true that when you lose one sense, such as sight or hearing, your other senses get stronger. In this case, my “loss” of spoken language caused me to rely on body language and intuition. I must say, though, that I felt a great deal of free flowing love and acceptance in Mexico. One reason that I like the picture that the street artist drew of me and my daughter is because the positive energy was particularly flowing among the three of us. I think the feeling was captured in the moment and really represents how I felt during the entire trip.
To be sure, there is a great deal of poverty in Mexico, which was quite evident in some form or another everywhere we went. But at the same time, there is a strong sense of community. Often, people gravitate to the city center, or zócalo. Many of the large cities in Mexico have a zócalo where there are vendors, street performers, and activities. For instance, one Sunday morning in Puebla, men, women, and children of all ages were jumping rope, playing soccer, trying their hand at a ring toss, or just soaking up the atmosphere. It was really beautiful to be in an environment where there was freedom to play and be ourselves. Maybe I hang out in the wrong circles but it just seems that in contrast, Americans are relentlessly goal driven and so uptight that we don’t allow ourselves time to be in the moment.
You may know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while that I’m a huge fan of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (see Polite Conversation, Blog Lovin’ and the Big Reveal, and Poetry as Religion. I was so incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity the visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, also called La Casa Azul (the Blue House). This is where Frida was born, lived for a time with her husband and famed painter Diego Rivera, and died. Before stepping into the first room from the courtyard, I had to gather myself because I was so overwhelmed. Unable to express my hesitation to the bemused attendant, I gave him the universal sign of excitement (i.e., clapping and giggling). When I finally was able to walk inside, I sort of stood in the middle of the room and wept for at least five minutes. Fortunately, the other visitors understood this universal sign of goofiness and politely walked around me.
The house had artwork by Frida, Diego, and others, though not many of the well-known and spectacular Frida self-portraits. There also were rooms dedicated to Frida’s sense of fashion, which was influenced by her various medical problems. Some rooms of the house were preserved as they were lived, including the kitchen and most remarkably for me Frida’s studio and bedrooms. Most haunting was her deathmask lying on the bed.
So much love and energy exuded from La Casa Azul. Both Frida and Diego are beloved and respected figures in Mexico but I believe the warm embracing aura was the legacy of the creative spirit soaked into the walls and floating through the air in the courtyards.
With 25 Frida paintings, the Dolores Olmeda Museum has the most extensive collection in Mexico–usually. Unfortunately during my stay, the entire Frida collection was touring Canada and France. But the museum is beautiful and opulent, what with peacocks casually strolling around and all, and there was still plenty to see, particulary works from Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. I’ll just have to add this to my agenda for my next visit.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2013