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Published: March 24th 2009
Well, a welcomed break came in the middle of February and I took the chance to flee the grey weather in the city for sunny and colorful Mexico! Mama has taken a month over the last three years to go to Mexico in order to learn Spanish and experience the culture. For many reasons it seemed that now would be a great time to learn Spanish- not that I needed any excuse to travel or learn a something new! So, I met Mama for a week in Mexico where I found myself overwhelmed by the experience. Everything seemed enhanced, like it was in high definition- only not fed through a wire onto a TV but instead filling all your senses. Coming from the muted winter of the city Mexico abounded with light, color, rich smells, intricate handcrafts, vibrant art, and plush flowers. And the people, what a treat it was to find myself captured by the people’s warmth!
Mama and I met in Mexico City and enjoyed a few days packed with adventure. Starting with outdoor markets of crafts and yummy fruit, not to mention the scrumptious food, we experienced explanations offered by the artists where I started to adjust
to the sounds of Spanish. I couldn’t believe how much I was able to understand! Mama told me that she expected my French to make learning Spanish easy, but I was shocked by it! This new, and limited, understanding made it fun to listen to the artists’ explanations about their pieces while I tried to pick up vocabulary!
We also took advantage of our mutual interest in Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and traveled to see their mutual home and Frida’s family’s home. While there, we both remembered back to the film about Frida’s life and the story about the house they built. They each had their own house connected by a bridge (rumor had it Diego would lock the door on his side of the bridge when he had, um, company). Diego’s studio was inspiring as light poured in through enormous windows colorful plaster pieces attempted to fill the cavernous space.
After seeing their joint property, we made our way over to Frida’s family’s home which houses many of Diego’s works, Frida’s bed complete with the mirror on top so she could paint while bedridden, and her studio. Again, the studio was filled with light and seemed a
fitting place to create original works. The color the house was overpowering! We then visited Trotsky's home where I dusted off facts from AP European History...
We went out of our way to experience many of Diego’s murals. I say experience and not see as it truly was an experience being in the space with his works and understanding the scaffolding and hours that it must have taken to create these works. Each mural uncovered another layer of Mexican history that created the current culture. I remain ignorant to much of the history and current result of past events, but I would love to learn more.
That night we sat on the balcony of our hotel which was located directly behind the cathedral. In front of the cathedral there was an enormous mariachi band performing. It was a delight to soak up the music and the cool night air.
Then it was time to move on from Mexico City and mosey on to Cuernavaca where Mama has stayed with a host family the last three years. I signed up for a week of classes without high expectations of learning too much in only 5 days. We arrived
and were picked up from the bus station by Theresa and escorted home. At the station a young woman from Amsterdam asked us for help, as she did not have the contact information for her host family. Theresa brought her home, fed her dinner, and helped her get in touch with her family. An example of the warmth and hospitality we found here!
The first day of school we were taken on an excursion to a church in the northern part of city which is surrounded by walls that curve and twirl in Gaudi or Dr. Seuss fashion. It was beautiful! Then it was back to the school and into classes. There was not a word of English spoken the rest of the day! The week went quickly and both my teachers and I were astounded by my progress with the language! Yay for the similarities among the romance languages! I can’t wait to learn more!
After class each day, which ended at 2:30, we went home for the largest meal of the day with Theresa and her mother. The evenings were spent enjoying the sights of the city such as another Diego mural, Cortez’s palace, the city’s
cathedral, and the largest market I have ever experienced! Highlights include the Robert Brady Museum which is a former monastery converted by Brady, an expatriate, into his home. He was an artist and a collector or beautiful pieces. The home was dripping with famous pieces of art and sumptuous colors.
Oh! How could I leave out one of the most unique experiences of the trip?! Each Thursday night the central part of Cuernavaca comes to life with a live band playing in a bandstand and a group of tango dancers! The bandstand I was told was designed by Eiffel and was truly beautiful! A few minutes walk from the bandstand was a group of 30 or so people dancing the tango! There were plastic chairs surrounding a square and a boombox blasting sultry music. The couples were delightful to see and so varied in age and intensity!
The night before it was time for me to go home, boo hoo, we traveled to a nearby town called Tepoztlan where we saw the preparation for the town’s celebration proceeding Lent. Here we dined on delicious tacos and sweet bread, marveled at the children's independence as families set up their
stalls, and soaked up more of the warm culture.
It was hard to leave, not only because I loved my time in Mexico, but also because it would be a long time before I was with my travel buddy again! I was so grateful for the experiences that Mexico offered. Seeing Mama in action using her Spanish and being my travel guide was such a delight! I returned home energized and ready to be more outrageous in my own crafts. What will next February bring?
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