Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Mexico City!  This week, Semana Santa, I've had the opportunity to go to the movies and see a Mexican film in Spanish, have dinner with various friends and family, visit an outstanding antique Mexican silver jewelry exhibit in the centro historico district (very inspiring), and visit a multitude of mercados to collect many items for our work.  Today was no exception!  First we visited the food section of a a local market to pick up some fresh cheese and hand made tortillas.  The market was alive with color, with lots of fresh veggies,
various types of salsa,
and pastas.
Outside, there was a market selling "chacharas", and it is here that I am really in my element doing one of the things I love most.  Among other things, I picked up a fabulous original Haitian painting, which I am posing with next to a live rooster.  Although chickens and roosters are abundant here in Mexico, this is the first one I've seen in the middle of Mexico City. 
After visiting many markets these past couple of weeks, I have learned a lot about treasure hunting in the city.  The prices vary greatly from market to market, and you need to be a good soldier looking for the best deals!  Today was my last chance to pick up items here, as we will be leaving mid-week to begin our travels to the south.  Very exciting!

As always, I hope this finds you happy and well, and I wish you all a Happy and Blessed Easter.

Love, Linda

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Visiting the Pyramids of Teotihuacan

But first just a few words about Monday.  It was a day for family, and we had dinner at the house of a cousin who lives here in Mexico City.  I just wanted to share the hors d'oervres, which I thought were adorable,
and the beautiful Mexican candy.  It was a most enjoyable day with some very special people.

Tuesday, Eduardo and I took a trip to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, which is an enormous archeological site located about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City.  It entailed about a 30 minute metrobus ride, followed by a 1 hour bus ride to get there.  On the bus, I was delighted when a guitar player stood up and started singing a string of songs, including the Spanish version of "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. 
Being the emotional girl that I am, this is the kind of stuff that brings tears to my eyes.  I couldn't help but feel the irony in the moment, as I looked out the window at the impoverished outskirts of the city, while hearing the beauty of the music.  The bitter and the sweet.  A poignant moment for me, but the guy snoring loudly in the seat behind me was not nearly as affected.

Upon entering Teotihuacan, the first thing you encounter visually is the Avenue of the Dead, which is a long central avenue that leads you to the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon.  But the first thing you encounter aurally is the sound of various whistles being blown, mimicking the sounds of birds and jaguars.  The sounds are haunting!  Here's a view of the Avenue of the Dead, along with the Temple of the Sun, which is the third largest pyramid in the world.
Along the walkway, there are many ancient ceremonial platforms, which were believed to once have temples at the top.
Approaching the base of the Pyramid of the Sun, I saw just what a big climb we had in store for us.
The steps were steep and narrow.
But the view from the top was the reward, along with the feeling of spiritual power coming from such ancient ground.  The city of Teotihuacan is believed to have been established between 100 BC and 250 AD, and the name is translated to mean "where man met the gods".  It indeed seemed like a very good place to pause for a moment and say thanks for our many blessings, including the ability to be there and make it to the top!  Here's the view of the Pyramid of the Moon from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun,
and a view of some of the ceremonial platforms.
Back down at the base of the pyramid, there were many vendors selling arts and crafts.  This Aztec Calendar was exceptionally nice.  That's the Pyramid of the Sun in the background.
This vendor had a great selection of masks, many carved out of obsidian with various stones and shells as inlay.  This particular area of Mexico is rich in obsidian.
On the site there is also an excavation of the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl.  This a photo of one of the interior details inside the palace.
There is an entrance fee of only 57 pesos per person (less than $5.00) to view Teotihaucan, and it was really a powerful experience that I would highly recommend.  Being there really makes you think about what civilization was like at that time, and how they were able to build such amazing structures.  A bit of a mystery!

My best to you all and Buenas Noches.

xo Linda

Sunday, March 24, 2013

San Angel, La Lagunilla and My Sparkly Flip Flops

First of all, I must say that I experienced supreme happiness this weekend when our little niece brought me a gift, namely my sparkly flip flops.  Seems I left them here in Mexico City in January (I thought they were lost).  They have been my trusty friend through the states of Baja Norte, Baja Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, Morelos, and Puebla.  And for those of you who follow my blog, you may remember that they were also instrumental in the Puffer Fish rescue back in Punta Perula.  It's so good to be re-united!
Sporting my sparkly flip flops, we climbed aboard the metro bus on Saturday to visit San Angel with Eduardo's sister.   Thanks to Semana Santa, the bus was a lot less crowded.  Here's a fashion statement I captured on the ride.
San Angel is an upscale neighborhood featuring fine art and live music in the park, nice restaurants, and an indoor mercado.  Here I was especially taken with the beautiful textiles.  I loved this evening dress from Oaxaca.  Good for my next art opening?
And this intricate textile work in white was really beautiful, too.
I also coveted this colorful wool rug from Oaxaca in a major way.  All I could think of was how perfectly it would go with my blue sofa and my red chair.  Good thing they're in storage at the moment.
When visiting Mexico City, you discover Frida is everywhere here.  Even on the bus.
Lastly, I picked up some nice beaded bracelets in San Angel for our business, which I look forward to sharing when we get home!

Later that evening we took a ride back to the Roma area to have coffee and anise liquor with a very special friend, Magdalena. 
Magda is an artist, a teacher of metal sculpture at the university, and an avid traveler.  She is also a collector of handmade clothes from the various regions of Mexico, and I was very lucky to have her show me some of her beautiful pieces.  She is a treasure.  It was a beautiful close to a happy and productive Saturday.

Today Eduardo and I visited a totally different type of market.  This time we ventured to a more difficult part of town, which is home every Sunday to La Lagunilla, a world renowned antique market.  I love this type of market, where you can find everything from stuffed leopards (yes, it's real),
to antique religious statues,
to original handmade prehispanic style art.  This particular vendor specializes only in work from Guerrero state.
Eduardo and I picked up some interesting stones for our work, and a couple of great wooden masks.  We also had the opportunity to see Eduardo's friend from Taxco, Ariel, who comes down to this market every weekend to sell his artistic custom made leather cuffs.  Here's a picture of Eduardo with Ariel.
We finished the day with a family dinner of Pozole at a local restaurant.  I had Pozole Verde con Pollo (green pozole with chicken) and it was delicious.   A very nice finish to a fun and productive weekend.

Hope this finds you happy and well on this Sunday evening.  Sweet dreams to all and Buenas Noches.

xoxo Linda

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trying to Park Like Superman

Mexico City has a population of over 21 million people, and I think that's why I'm so fascinated by all forms of transportation here.  Last night I watched a guy in the Roma area of town try to parallel park his car.  I so wanted to take a picture, but I wasn't sure he'd have appreciated that.  His rear bumper was against the car behind him.  His car didn't quite fit in the space, so his driving companion was outside the car pushing the car in front of him like Superman, seeing if they could somehow SQUEEZE the car into the space.  Although Glendale has some crazy drivers, Mexico City is the first place I saw this particular technique in action.

Today we headed back downtown to the Centro Historico, using the third different metro line in three days, so I could see the various ways you can navigate the city.  The only camera I've been toting these first few days in Mexico City, as I get used to traveling again, has been my iPhone camera, so those are the pictures I'll share again today.  We first visited La Catedral, which is the oldest and largest Roman Catholic cathedral in all of the Americas.  It was constructed over a period of two centuries, between the 1500's and the 1800's, and the Spaniards used the stones from a destroyed Aztec Temple to build it.  There were lots of vendors selling jewelry and crafts surrounding the church, many wearing pre-hispanic dance costumes.
There was also a large colorful mural outside.
The interior of the church has many sections, featuring gold ornamentation on the altars,
and dramatic statues.
Back outside and walking along the streets in this area, you can find many historic buildings with interesting architectural details in both stone,
and wood.
Eduardo took me to meet various people in the jewelry industry today who work in different areas of production.  I loved the way this woman, who did fine work in silver, had a neat, orderly system for her tools.
And in total contrast, I loved the well worn look of this kiln used for casting in another shop.  All these and more are the tools of the trade for jewelry making.
After conducting some business, we visited the local bakery, "Pasteleria Ideal" to bring home some bread for the family.  This is a very old traditional business, where you choose your bread and then bring it over to the counter for the lady to wrap up for you.  Can you see me in the mirror taking the picture?  By the way, I think all this eating may increase the size of "mi pansa"!
Of course they also had beautiful pots of gelatin, and I couldn't resist taking a picture of those, too, and eating one as well.
Today is Friday night, and there is excitement in the air here because Monday is the start of Semana Santa.  Schools are closed next week, and many people in Mexico City head out of town for vacation.  We heard on the news that there were slow moving lines of cars leaving the city, and were grateful for our short, albeit crowded ride home.  I took this picture on the bus, to give you an idea of how many people you'll find sharing public transportation with you here.
But this is a wonderful, magnetic, historical, energetic city!  So it's all part of the experience, which I'll share again tomorrow.  The best of dreams to you all, and Buenas Noches.

xoxo Linda

Friday, March 22, 2013

How Old Is That Bus Driver?

It's day number two in Mexico City, and today our little six year old niece could invite her family to observe and participate in her gym class, so we started the day by visiting her at school.  Here's Eduardo trying out his PE skills on the playground.
After her class, Eduardo and I headed back downtown to look for more treasures.  The first step to getting there entails taking a bus.  I was just fascinated by our capri and baseball cap sporting, Sprite drinking bus driver with the leg tattoo, who was constantly fidgeting with his iPod.  Is he old enough to drive?
I'm really not sure, but he did deliver us safely from point A to point B, where we climbed aboard the Metro for the second step to get us downtown.  The market we visited today represented artisans from many regions of Mexico, so it was a good way to get acquainted with the different types of crafts we will see as we travel.   We were doing our homework!   Here's a woman wearing native dress from an area of Oaxaca, which is one of the states we are getting ready to visit.
In the evening we met up with a special friend who lives in the Roma area of Mexico City, which is a relaxed neighborhood with many Art Deco style buildings, coffee shops, restaurants and galleries.  It reminded me a lot of being in New York City.  Even though it's a Thursday night, the area was alive with people, and the highlight of our evening was happening upon an art opening for a photographer named Gigi Mizrahi.  As is so often the case in Mexico, there is a magical surprise around every corner.
This was a high profile opening, and most people were dressed for the occasion.   There were reporters there, and waiters were serving complimentary wine, champagne, and hors d'oeuvres, including little canapes with caviar.  Oh my!  Not to mention lovely trays of desserts like tiny chocolate cakes.  The art work was abstract outdoor photography, and the work was quite beautiful.
After coffee and Mezcal with our friends, we took a taxi back home.  Again for some reason I am riveted by the transportation details in this city.  This time I noticed that our taxi driver had 290,795 miles on his car.  Impressive!

Mexico City has many different areas to explore, and I look forward to seeing what we will discover tomorrow.  Sweet dreams to all.  Buenas noches.

xoxo Linda

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ah.... I'm Back in Mexico

How can I tell that I'm back in Mexico, besides the obvious, which was our plane landing in Mexico City?  Well, there was the cab ride from the airport last night at 11 pm.  Our taxi driver needed gas (the red light was on), he didn't wear his seat belt (even though he was going about 100 km per hour, about 60 mph), and he used his emergency brake as his braking system at every red light.  There was a roll of toilet paper on his dashboard, and a fire extinguisher between the two front seats.  I smiled as I took in these details, lulled by the conversation between he and Eduardo, a haze of Spanish.  It's good to be back. 

We are spending some days here in Mexico City with Eduardo's family, and we decided to take the metro into downtown today to visit a few local markets.  It started with a world class shoe shine for Eduardo for 25 pesos.
Then we took the metro, where I saw this great big colorful mural of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
The markets we visited featured the work of many craftsmen that specialize in various areas.  We saw some beautiful and creative custom leather bags,
and walls of colorful beaded earrings.
But the find that made my day was these stones, that look like water reflections in a swimming pool.  Isn't that PERFECT for me?  This is the first time I have seen this type of stone.  I can't wait to bring them home and make them into jewelry.
We made it back to the house around 5 pm, just in time to have dinner and then cake and coffee with some family and friends who stopped by for a visit.  I particularly enjoy Eduardo's adorable six year old niece, who is learning English and has given herself the job of being my Spanish instructor.  "Repeat after me in Espanol,"  she tells me.  I am blessed!  And lastly, even the desserts here in Mexico are beautiful, like this colorful gelatin from dinner tonight.
Tomorrow we will head back into the city for another treasure hunt.  I send you all my best wishes for a beautiful evening.  Buenas Noches!
xo Linda