June 2, 2016
Yesterday morning, my classmates and I left Querétaro for a weekend in Mexico City. Our itinerary was jam packed with museums, palaces, and ancient Aztec ruins, and more. Below are photos and tidbits of where we visited. At times, it was challenging to understand the historical context of all of the locations we visited as they were explained in Spanish. However, now I have reasons to learn more about these places and reasons to visit them again someday!
First, we visited La Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo. Now, unfortunately, I have to admit that a week prior to visiting her home that is now a museum of her incredible talents and life, I am not sure if I would have known who Frida Kahlo was. However, now she is someone who I will never forget.
Frida Kahlo was an artist who did not discover her talent until she suffered a severe addict. One day, she was on a public bus which crashed. She was impaled with a steel bar that crushed her spine and fractured her pelvis multiple times, but somehow spared her life. After a year of being bed ridden, Frida understandably no longer handle passing the days by staring at the reflection of herself in the mirror that hung above her bed. So, she began to paint. The works that she painted vary in subject matter, however, most of them convey the agony of pain and suffering that she had and was enduring since her accident.
After touring Frida Kahlo’s house, we spent an unfortunate amount of time driving across Mexico City to our next destination: El Museo Nacional de Antropología. We ended up only having 40 minutes in a museum that one could spend at least a whole day, if not longer, in. However, I was able to sprint through each of the buildings and snap photos of many artifacts with their descriptions which I can now take the time to try to translate and gain knowledge from. It was a challenged to try to do so while on site with the time pressure so real.
When we finally arrived to our hotel, Hotel Canada, in the center of Mexico city, it was dark and rainy. But that did not prevent some of us from going on a mid-night walk. I loved seeing the city’s night lights. We also went out for cena at a restaurant that was the biggest I have ever been to and also gorgeous.
The next morning, we embarked on our 10 hour all-on-foot tour of more of Mexico City. We began with the Catedral Metropolitana which is located right in the main plaza of Mexico City. The cathedral is beautiful. It is the largest and oldest in all of Latin America. It was built in the 1600’s and we were fortunate enough to hear the original organ play the morning we were there. It was challenging taking photos of the cathedral both due to its grand size and being limited on where photo taking in allowed inside the cathedral. I would simply say that this cathedral is one that it best seen in person through your own eyes.
After the cathedral, we then went and toured the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples that the Aztecs built in their capital city of Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City). Construction of the temple began around 1300. It is s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the archeological site that I was seeing and walking among was built and inhabited by amazing people over 700 years ago. It is incredible.
After touring ancient Aztec ruins, we visited the Palacio Nacional which features murals from Diego Rivera, the husband of Frida Kahlo. The palace is also where the President of Mexico lives and where the original Declaration of Independence of Mexico is displayed for viewing. I love that I am able to learn about the history and independence of other cultures as everyone at home is Celebrating the 4th of July in America.
Can you keep up with all of this touring around Mexico city? It sure was a whirl wind of sights! Next, we visited the Palacio de Bellas Artes which surely is a palace. It is also home to many more of Diego Rivera’s murals, some of which are more controversial, and the works of other artists. We also had a bit of free time to walk around. I ended up finding China Town, I guess every big city does have one! It was strange walking about China Town seeing many Chinese decorations, restaurants, and people while saying “Hola.” It almost felt wrong, until I realized I hadn’t actually been transported to China.
Our last stop was surely the most somber. Plaza de Tres Culturas is the location of ancient, but also much more recent history and significance than the other buildings we had been viewing. On October 2, 1968, 10 days before Mexico was to hold the Olympics, thousands of students were gathered at the Plaza de Tres Culturas protesting current injustices as people were doing world wide at the time. Although the protest began peacefully, it broke into mass chaos and massacre as the Mexican Government opened fire from a building on the edge of the plaza. People fled to near by houses and businesses frantically trying to get inside somewhere safe. However, no where near the plaza could be considered safe. The government soldiers forcibly entered all near by residences and killed everyone inside, whether they were participating in the protest or not. Over 3,000 people were killed in a matter of minutes.
Don’t know anything about this shooting or know a little but didn’t think it was this sever? Well, that’s probably because the Mexican government kept it very hush-hush. Their goal was to do away with the “problem” of the protesting students before the Olympics arrived by killing off the problem. Also, media reports were very miss leading and skewed to blame the students and reported very few deaths and injuries compared to the truth. Still today, there are people who gather in this plaza to raise awareness of this mass government orchestrated shooting that was swept under the rug quite efficiently.
Our time touring Mexico City sure was jam-packed with many sites! At the end of the day, all of us had brains over flowing with new knowledge, larger hearts full of appreciation for the historical places we had visited and their cultural significance, and sore feet from all the walking we had done in 10 hours with few breaks.
Once I got back to my hotel, I was looking forward to resting my feet and getting a good night’s sleep. However, Mexico City had one last experience up its sleeve for me.