We returned last week from an adventure in Mexico City. The largest city in North America is a considerable experience and a week hardly does it justice.
We flew non-stop from Seattle to Mexico City on AeroMexico (round trip). Our 10:00 pm Saturday departure promised an arrival at Benito Juarez airport in CDMX at 5:20 am. We arrived a little early.
Passport control was a snap - efficient, smooth, pleasant. Unable to sleep on our flight, we loaded up on coffee and taxied to our hotel in Alameda Centro long before they could officially welcome us as the sun rose on a Sunday morning. Our hotel (Kali Centro) accepted our luggage and we proceeded to walk toward Parque Alameda (1 kilometer north). After a few moments of orientation, we walked east past the Palacio de Bellas Artes toward Casa de las Azulejos - a beautiful building covered in tile - which is now a Sandborns department store (with two restaurants). Much to our surprise - they were already open - and breakfast was served. Re-energized, we walked around the Historical Center long before any of the attractions (mostly free on Sunday) were open. Particularly interested in the murals inside the Palacio de Bellas Artes, we made our way back to their doors at the ten o'clock hour struck. Magnifico. The Rivera, Orozco and Sigueiros murals were amazing. Not very knowledgeable about the historical context, we eagerly awaited our pre-arranged Tuesday mural tour. (It did not disappoint.)
The remainder of our Sunday was dedicated to familiarizing ourselves to our neighborhood - with a stop at the Museo de Artes Popular, the Mercado de San Juan and the Mercado de Artesanias de la Ciudidela - all of which deserved a second visit.
As in so many locations, Monday is not a museum day, but we had arranged a tour (with our friend and local tour guide Oskar Maldonado) to visit the world's largest wholesale mercado - la Centro de Abasto. An amazing place (and not a tourist attraction), this 810-acre giant is the major distribution center for all of Mexico. Anything and everything is distributed, here - with 50,000 truck deliveries and pick-ups, daily. Keep your eyes open - this is a fast paced and very hectic place. We were exhausted just watching the workers fill their orders - all at energic speed and at the Mexican minimum wage of the equivalent of $7 USD/day!. Plenty of good lunch time opportunities - these workers have to eat. We had splendid tacos pastor - with salsa picante , frijoles con arroz. Fifty Pesos ($2.50 USD). Magnifico! Exhausted from watching all this energy and walking quite a bit of the 810 acre complex, we rode the Metro back to our hotel and took a siesta. I like this afternoon nap deal - maybe I'll incorporate that into my daily plan.
Tuesday was Mural Tour Day - and what a day it was! Our pal Oskar Maldonado met us at the Alameda Centro Park and we went west to the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. The museum was built in 1986 as a space to exhibit Diego Rivera's 1946–47 mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central). It had previously been housed at the Hotel del Prado, which was severely damaged in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.
Next stop - a revisit to the Palacio de Bellas Artes for an explanation and embellishment of what we saw on Sunday morning on our own. Oskar was completely up to the challenge as he detailed the content and context of the murals by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Final stop - Secertaria de Educacion Publica. Covering all of the walls of the two courtyards on three levels are murals. 235 panels were done by Diego Rivera between 1923 and 1928..This was Rivera’s first major large-scale mural project. The themes center around workers, and the glorification of all things Mexican, especially the Mexican Revolution.
Wednesday was Coyoacon and Xochimilco exploring - specifically the floating gardens and Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum).