A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico City Day 2- Coyoacán and Halloween

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This morning we woke and started with a breakfast in the hotel Lobby but with realizing there would be some extra time I talked Thom into taking a little adventure walk to this famous churró and coffee place.
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The Churrería El Moro has been around for 78 years making churros (crunch cinnamon doughnut sticks) and hot chocolate or coffee with hot milk. Tasty!!!
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We headed back to our hotel where we would then split into our two groups with Chimy, Javier and our local guide Sergio in private vans to Coyoacán. Coyoacán refers to one of the 16 boroughs (delegaciones) of the Federal District of Mexico City as well as the former village which is now the borough’s “historic center.”
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Sergio, talking to us in front of a bakery displaying pan de muertos. The pan de muerto (Spanish for bread of the dead) is a type of sweet roll traditionally baked in Mexico during the weeks leading up to the Día de Muertos. It is a sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun, often decorated with bone-shaped pieces.
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The name Coyoacán comes from Nahuatl and most likely means “place of coyotes,” when the Aztecs named a pre-Hispanic village on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco which was dominated by the Tepanec people.

We pulled our vans over to get out next to a school. Here you can see the tree of life depicting more history of the people.

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The area was getting ready for Diá de Los Muertos and had wonderful displays set up.

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Large "sugar" skull
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Catrina- an icon for Day of the Dead.. (I will be explaining all of this and the meaning behind the special day of remembrance in my next post)
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There were also stands set up selling yummy hot coca and pan de muertos.

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We checked out the Hidalgo garden and the cathedral.

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Next was the Frida Kahlo Museum also known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul) for the structure's cobalt-blue walls. It is an historic house museum and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
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Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left; she disguised this later in life by wearing long, colorful skirts. It has been conjectured that she was born with spina bifida, a congenital condition that could have affected both spinal and leg development.
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On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.

The accident left her in a great deal of pain, and she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She had as many as 35 operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg, and her right foot. The medical complications and permanent damage also prevented Kahlo from having a child; though she conceived three times, all of her pregnancies had to be terminated.
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Her mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes. Kahlo spent the time after her accident in bed, where she was able to spend her time painting as a way to entertain herself and express her pain. Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

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The building was the birthplace of Kahlo and is also the home where she grew up, lived with her husband Diego Rivera for a number of years, and eventually died, in one of the rooms on the upper floor. In 1958, Diego Rivera donated the home and its contents in order to turn it into a museum in Frida's honor.
One of Frida's last paintings before she died.
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The museum demonstrates the lifestyle of wealthy Mexican bohemian artists and intellectuals during the first half of the 20th century.
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According to records and testimony, the house today looks much as it did in 1951, decorated with Mexican folk art, Kahlo’s personal art collection, a large collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts, traditional Mexican cookware, linens, personal mementos such as photographs, postcards and letters, and works by José María Velasco, Paul Klee and Diego Rivera. Much of the collection is now in display cases designed for their preservation.

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The two rooms of the upper floor which are open to the public contain Frida’s final bedroom and studio area.
This is located in the wing that Rivera had built. The original furniture is still there. In one corner, her ashes are on display in an urn, some personal items and mirrors on the ceiling.

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On her bed is funeral mask, and under the canopy is a mirror facing down which she used to paint her many self-portraits.
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The head of the bed contains the painting of a dead child, and the foot contains photo montage of Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Mao Zedong. The pillow is embroidered with the words "Do not forget me, my love."

Her wheelchair is drawn up to an unfinished painting in the studio attached to the bedroom.
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There is also a special exhibit on Frida's suffering and how she embraced that suffering into her fashion and art. Taking ownership of the corsets she needed to wear to support her spine and embracing a style she felt distracted others from her legs.
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Finally exiting back into the courtyard you are greeted upon more beautiful displays for Dia de Los Muertos.

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This museum was really touching to me. I have seen many of Frida's famous pieces in Philadelphia and NY but this was different. It really put a greater focus on her amazing life and how she lived through all of her suffering. I really enjoyed being able to experience this as part of our time in Mexico.

And then there was this moment.....(Sigh)
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Ok Ok Ok......
Up next...
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The next stop was The Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli or simply Anahuacalli Museum.
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A special exhibit outside the museum with the statues of all girls...couldn't find out much about it but it is not always here.
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The unique museum was conceived and created by muralist Diego Rivera, who, motivated by his own interest in Mexican culture, collected near 60,000 pre-Hispanic pieces during his life and projected a building to place and exhibit them. This was partly his studio as well.
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It was completed after his death by architects Juan O'Gorman and Heriberto Pagelson and Rivera's own daughter, Ruth. Built of black volcanic stone, it takes the form of a pyramid. The museum articles are collected from almost every indigenous civilization in Mexico's history.

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The building forms a teocalli with means “sacred house”, its design notably influenced by the Teotihuacan culture as can be appreciated in the building’s boards, recreating the image of the rain god Tlaloc.
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It also shows Maya and Aztec influences, as can be appreciated in the hexagonal and rectangular (Aztec) arcs that give access to the different showrooms.
The Ceiling in some of the rooms:

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There was another exhibition of paper mache sculpture relating to the Days of the Dead.IMG_2747.jpg

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An Alter to remember Diego...
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Being that Thom and I and I are so into art and culture it was a real treat to have these included in our tour. After all this excitement it was on to lunch. Chimy had made reservations for us to have lunch at place that was once one of the house Hernán Cortés. Cortés was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
This was once one of his houses.
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Ok so now we had a short time to wander and see if we could gather up anything we may want for a Halloween costume. Many people just decided on painting their faces since there wasn't much time and many of the shops and stalls didn't have full costumes. Halloween is not typically celebrated in Mexico in the same capacity or way it is in the United States. However, there are more and more overlaps each year. But we would soon find that people tend to save their painted faces and "trick or treating" or rather "Me da mi calaverita" ( "Would you give me a skull"... A calavera de azucar is a skull made out of sugar) for November 1 and 2nd. Again more about all of that in great detail in the next post.

So back to the crazy tourists (he...he he) who wanted to celebrate Halloween. We were suppose to go to a party but that didn't really work out but everyone still celebrated with good spirits regardless. So what happened was, we went back to the hotel and prepared for a night out. Everyone pretty much painted their face and dressed up in some way for the most part. Thom helped out with his artistic skills and q-tips. I had picked up some crazy Maleficent horns and rocked a mask I had bought for another party before we left. We gathered in the lobby for dinner.
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Chimy took us to his neighborhood for actually are really yummy Italian/Mexican dinner. We were the only ones wearing makeup and face paint but when there are 24+ of you it kind of makes you the majority anyway right?
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Who is that creeper next me?
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Dinner conversations were hilarious and jokes from that night would continue through out the trip (thanks to Thom especially..lol)
Afterwards we went to a small chill bar that specialized solely in Mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agave) native to Mexico. Not particularly Thom nor I's thing we did try some anyway. We also had to order some kind of snacky food item for the table as it was required of the place since it operated under some kind of different license. So why not crickets!

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Proof of someone eating them:
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Me not so much....

Well we headed back and it would be another busy jam packed day tomorrow as well.
I promise to tell you all about Dia de Los Muertos next as it would be November 1st on Day 3.

Posted by Kelly Rose 09:55 Archived in Mexico

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Once more a bevy of knowledge and an interesting lesson on the arts and lives of Mexico. Thoroughly enjoyed your journey there, thanks for sharing. Have a safe trip home. Love you, Mom and Dad

by Mom and Dad McLaughlin

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