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Our Huge Mexico City Adventure, Part IV

Our Huge Mexico City Adventure, Part IV

In which we climb high above Mexico City at the Villa, visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in beautiful Coyoacan, and eat (all we do is eat!) .

The older buildings at the basilica are well worth visiting, not only for the beautiful art inside but also for the funhouse effect of tilting floors and slanting walls. Even Omar, Mr. Six Flags, got dizzy.

The older buildings at the basilica are well worth visiting, not only for the beautiful art inside but also for the funhouse effect of tilting floors and slanting walls. Even Omar, Mr. Six Flags, got dizzy.

To get a small idea, look at the cobblestones at the bottom of the picture. The photo is plumb level. You can also compare the top of the new basilica with the facade of the older building. Pisa, move over.

To get a small idea, look at the cobblestones at the bottom of the picture. The photo is plumb level. You can also compare the top of the new basilica with the facade of the older building. Pisa, move over.

The general effect is that you are about to be buried under a jumble of stone blocks. The black line in the corner with the bricks is not a shadow--it is where the walls are pulling apart.

The general effect is that you are about to be buried under a jumble of stone blocks. The black line in the corner with the bricks is not a shadow--it is where the walls are pulling apart.

The church is held up from the inside by scaffolding.

The church is held up from the inside by scaffolding.

Church scaffolding.

Church scaffolding.

Omar takes aim at a chandelier.

Omar takes aim at a chandelier.

And here is his picture.

And here is his picture.

In environs which would be closed to the public in most of the world, the faithful serenely worship.

In environs which would be closed to the public in most of the world, the faithful serenely worship.

Gilt to assuage guilt. The cupola is undeniably beautiful.

Gilt to assuage guilt. The cupola is undeniably beautiful.

Any idea what these are?

Any idea what these are?

The photos are of people who are sick or missing. The charms are offerings--a heart for heart attacks or love, a leg for knee and leg problems, etc. The charms are available outside the basilica.

The photos are of people who are sick or missing. The charms are offerings--a heart for heart attacks or love, a leg for knee and leg problems, etc. The charms are available outside the basilica.

The climb through gardens to the chapel high on the hill behind the basilica. It is one of the prettiest spots in Mexico City.

The climb through gardens to the chapel high on the hill behind the basilica. It is one of the prettiest spots in Mexico City.

Red bougainvillea flowers cover a photogenic stone arch. Men with cameras take photos of tourists who forgot theirs.

Red bougainvillea flowers cover a photogenic stone arch. Men with cameras take photos of tourists who forgot theirs.

Dan poses at a scenic overlook...

Dan poses at a scenic overlook...

...And takes in a view of the Villa and the city beyond.

...And takes in a view of the Villa and the city beyond.

The blue-flowered trees are jacaranda. They are just covered with flowers in the Spring.

The blue-flowered trees are jacaranda. They are just covered with flowers in the Spring.

All this climbing is making me hungry!

All this climbing is making me hungry!

In the little chapel at the top of the hill. We aren't the only ones to make the climb. If Mexico City is a mile and a half high, and this hill overlooks Mexico City, we must be at pretty high altitude.

In the little chapel at the top of the hill. We aren't the only ones to make the climb. If Mexico City is a mile and a half high, and this hill overlooks Mexico City, we must be at pretty high altitude.

Angels on the ceiling.

Angels on the ceiling.

Here we are, as envisioned by Michelangelo. Miguel Angelo Sanchez. This is when I had hair.

Here we are, as envisioned by Michelangelo. Miguel Angel Sanchez. This is when I had hair.

Statues re-enacting the Virgin's visit.

Statues re-enacting the Virgin's visit.

In a VERY Catholic setting, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl spits water.

In a VERY Catholic setting, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl spits water.

The city rambles precipitously over nearby hills, making the Villa even more of a cherished sanctuary in the largest city on earth.

The city rambles precipitously over nearby hills, making the Villa even more of a cherished sanctuary in the largest city on earth.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. On our way to the subway we stop to watch this guy and his tired snake.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. On our way to the subway we stop to watch this guy and his tired snake.

Turns out, the snake is quite an expert at telling fortunes by reading cards. Something told us we could base our futures on something more substantial than snake readings, and off we went.

Turns out, the snake is quite an expert at telling fortunes by reading cards. Something told us we could base our futures on something more substantial than snake readings, and off we went.

The Metro. Mexico City's subway system is vast, fast, and cheap. Twenty cents will take you anywhere in the city. It is also clean and attractive, with works of art and even pyramids in the stations. Occassionally we even saw series of posters in the tunnels, arranged so that as the subway speeds by, the posters are animated, like in a flip book. Just wonderful. And here, in the northern part of town, the cars were nearly empty, and we all got seats. Were that it was always the case!

The Metro. Mexico City's subway system is vast, fast, and cheap. Twenty cents will take you anywhere in the city. It is also clean and attractive, with works of art and even pyramids in the stations. Occassionally we even saw series of posters in the tunnels, arranged so that as the subway speeds by, the posters are animated, like in a flip book. Just wonderful. And here, in the northern part of town, the cars were nearly empty, and we all got seats. Were that it was always the case!

Empty. Vendors go from car to car selling chocolates and batteries and dictionaries. And especially pirated mp3 cds. Music blared non-stop as folks with loud speakers in their backpacks demonstrated their wares--rancheros, the Beatles, children's songs, oldies. "140 songs for a dollar!" Sometimes three people would be playing their music at once. I never saw anyone sell a cd. I don't really fault them, either. They make conversation and at times even thinking impossible, but hey, everyone has to eat, and they are out there, selling their illegal copies and putting food on the table.

Empty. Vendors go from car to car selling chocolates and batteries and dictionaries. And especially pirated mp3 cds. Music blared non-stop as folks with loud speakers in their backpacks demonstrated their wares--rancheros, the Beatles, children's songs, oldies. "140 songs for a dollar!" Sometimes three people would be playing their music at once. I never saw anyone sell a cd. I don't really fault them, either. They make conversation and at times even thinking impossible, but hey, everyone has to eat, and they are out there, selling their illegal copies and putting food on the table.

This is what the subway usually is like. The gals took one look, and even though we had paid, climbed back into the open air and took a bus.

This is what the subway usually is like. The gals took one look, and even though we had paid, climbed back into the open air and took a bus.

People often get caught with a leg or arm out the door--and people help push the body parts in. There is no way to check against pickpockets or fanny pinchers in this situation--you sometimes can't even reach a bar to hang on, and just balance against your neighbors. On many lines the first couple of cars are only for women and children--and it is enforced!

People often get caught with a leg or arm out the door--and people help push the body parts in. There is no way to check against pickpockets or fanny pinchers in this situation--you sometimes can't even reach a bar to hang on, and just balance against your neighbors. On many lines the first couple of cars are only for women and children--and it is enforced!

We rode straight across town, and got out in the residential area of Coyoacan, where we met up with Tochimani in front of the Casa Azul--the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This is a real pilgrimage for us. Omar had been several years ago, and we had visited the birthplace of Diego Rivera in Guanajuato (see post), but it was my first time here, at the center of the Frida universe.

We rode straight across town, and got out in the residential area of Coyoacan, where we met up with Tochimani in front of the Casa Azul--the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This is a real pilgrimage for us. Omar had been several years ago, and we had visited the birthplace of Diego Rivera in Guanajuato (see post), but it was my first time here, at the center of the Frida universe.

Frida's garden. Up the stairs you can see her bed. It is prohibited to take photos inside the house, but let me tell you, it is incredible. The paintings, Frida's clothes (some we recognized from her self portraits), the old fashioned kitchen with its clay pots, correspondence with Leon Trotsky and Helene Rubenstein and the Rockefellers. And the large garden is wonderful.

Frida's garden. Up the stairs you can see her bed. It is prohibited to take photos inside the house, but let me tell you, it is incredible. The paintings, Frida's clothes (some we recognized from her self portraits), the old fashioned kitchen with its clay pots, correspondence with Leon Trotsky and Helene Rubenstein and the Rockefellers. And the large garden is wonderful.

Two happy fans. Tochi tends to have her eyes closed in photos, so she really opened them for this one. I have several really hilarious photos of her looking half asleep with me in the garden, but if I published them she would come through my window with a knife in her teeth so don't even ask.

Two happy fans. Tochi tends to have her eyes closed in photos, so she really opened them for this one. I have several really hilarious photos of her looking half asleep with me in the garden, but if I published them she would come through my window with a knife in her teeth so don't even ask.

A nitch in the garden.

A nitch in the garden.

What could be more iconic than alcatrazes (calla lillies) in Diego Rivera's garden?

What could be more iconic than alcatrazes (calla lillies) in Diego Rivera's garden?

Frida and Diego's garden.

Frida and Diego's garden.

Resting in front of the book shop.

Resting in front of the book shop.

From the Casa Azul, we decided to walk to the central plaza in Coyoacan. On the way we met up with a bunch of devils. These are meant to be burnt during Easter week to help you triumph over sin. I think they are cute as can be, and would love to suspend them floating from a high ceiling and let sin take care of itself.

From the Casa Azul, we decided to walk to the central plaza in Coyoacan. On the way we met up with a bunch of devils. These are meant to be burnt during Easter week to help you triumph over sin. I think they are cute as can be, and would love to suspend them floating from a high ceiling and let sin take care of itself.

Not surprisingly, there are lady devils, too. Just like in real life.

Not surprisingly, there are lady devils, too. Just like in real life.

If you're in the mood, you can also toss a politician or two on the fire. Here is ex-President Vicente Fox. I couldn't find the one I think most deserves a hotfoot, but then he's not Mexican.

If you're in the mood, you can also toss a politician or two on the fire. Here is ex-President Vicente Fox. I couldn't find the one I think most deserves a hotfoot, but then he's not Mexican.

I asked Omar if you burn these gals to protect against what we call here "las prostis," but he said no--these dolls appear during Day of the Dead, and the seller was just trying to diminish his stock this Easter week.

I asked Omar if you burn these gals to protect against what we call here "las prostis," but he said no--these dolls appear during Day of the Dead, and the seller was just trying to diminish his stock this Easter week.

The plaza in Coyoacan is beautifully maintained.

The plaza in Coyoacan is beautifully maintained.

Raspados (shaved ice) in Coyoacan. These are basically slurpies, but are really good, with fresh fruit syrups. Flavors include tamarind, guava, currant, rice, eggnog, hibiscus, vanilla, grape, lime, bubble gum, guayabana, blueberry, strawberry, mango, coconut, licorice, pistachio, and piña colada. You can chose two flavors--one above and one below. You can tell I've been in Mexico a while, when none of these flavors sounds particularly exotic to me!

Raspados (shaved ice) in Coyoacan. These are basically slurpies, but are really good, with fresh fruit syrups. Flavors include tamarind, guava, currant, rice, eggnog, hibiscus, vanilla, grape, lime, bubble gum, guayabana, blueberry, strawberry, mango, coconut, licorice, pistachio, and piña colada. You can chose two flavors--one above and one below. You can tell I've been in Mexico a while, when none of these flavors sounds particularly exotic to me!

As all over in Mexico, there are balloon sellers.

As all over in Mexico, there are balloon sellers.

And chatarra sellers. Chatarra is junk food. This man is selling home-made potato chips, and chicharron, with hot sauce and limes to squeeze on top.

And chatarra sellers. Chatarra is junk food. This man is selling home-made potato chips, and chicharron, with hot sauce and limes to squeeze on top.

An a capella group sings. Omar knew the music from his studies of musica sacra.

An a capella group sings. Omar knew the music from his studies of musica sacra.

Omar takes some video.

Omar takes some video.

There is nothing like creative, passionate people.

There is nothing like creative, passionate people.

Back in Centro we went to the main post office. We wondered what kind of stone the gorgeous columns were made from--sandstone? Then we found one that was damaged. They are painted concrete! Very artfull.

Back in Centro we went to the main post office. We wondered what kind of stone the gorgeous columns were made from--sandstone? Then we found one that was damaged. They are painted concrete! Very artfull.

The central staircase.

The central staircase.

You don't mind paying for stamps when you know where the money is going.

You don't mind paying for stamps when you know where the money is going.

People wait in line to take the old fashioned elevator...

People wait in line to take the old fashioned elevator...

...While Omar does a Norma Desmond on the stairs. He says he got accustomed to the gilt and general fanciness. I promised to buy him a gold colored mailbox for the house. He was not amused.

...While Omar does a Norma Desmond on the stairs. He says he got accustomed to the gilt and general fanciness. I promised to buy him a gold colored mailbox for the house. He was not amused.

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.