Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Surviving Mexico City

We have drawn our first full day in Mexico City to a close. We were cheated slightly by a taxi driver, but other than that, all went well. I even hailed a taxi off the street in desperation near the center of the city at 9:00 when we couldn't find a taxi stand and had already lost our cell phone so we couldn't call one.

We set out this morning for the National Museum of Anthropology and History, the place where seemingly all the treasures of Mexico have come to be displayed. It was a tour de force - we spent four hours there, with Violet who wins a 'museum super trooper' award for being so well behaved the entire time. The museum was amazing! Everything you have ever seen in a photo is there but the space itself is also very cool. It seems like they may have a bit of a hoarding problem though, since they have more things than they really need, it feels like they could have left a couple of things at the original sites.

The signage was as worthless and/or nonexistent as we have come to expect. Whenever there is signage, it tells you things you could have guessed on your own and when there is something really interesting and unusual, they is usually no sign at all. Basic jist: "you are looking at things that were made in the past, not in the future. They have shapes and forms of the things they look like. They were made by people. They have a particular color and may or may not have been important."

Despite the lack of signage and the strange idea that the security guards had about priorities - for example, people could rub their hands on the stone objects but when Violet sat on black and yellow tape around a plastic model of a faraway archeological site, she was told to get up and move off - the museum was amazing. Around every corner there are just hundreds of treasures. It only has 23 rooms which makes it seem like it is so much smaller than it really is because each room is the size of an airplane hanger.

Matt has a tendency to forget to drink water and so last night he ended up pretty dehydrated and without any bottled water in his apartment. For some reason, he didn't want to bother us, so he suffered for a good long while until he discovered a britta filter in his place. So, he wasn't feeling to snappy this morning and we dragged him back from the light through regular infusions of fresh orange juice and papaya yogurt.

When we were leaving the National Museum, the voladores were just beginning their performance which involves men in imaginary traditional clothing climbing up a ridiculously tall pole, winding rope around it and then jumping off, letting themselves fall against the gravity and centrifugal force, I nearly felt motion sick just watching. Our plan had been to head over another museum or possibly the Chapultepec palace afterwards, but as Matt had lost his will to live, we decided to seek food instead.

We took a taxi to the center square, no small feat as many of the major streets were closed for a protest by educators against ridiculous government reforms (it felt like North Carolina for a bit...) When we arrived, businesses around the square were just lowering their metal curtains and police in riot gear were getting into position. At the last moment, a man from a sixth floor restaurant asked us if we would like to come up and eat on the terrace. Oddly enough, I think it doubles as a men's club or something of the sort because the women were wearing laced bodices, high altitude heels and appeared particularly disappointed at our presence. In any case, the wind was heavenly, the views were stunning, and it was certainly the best venue for watching the protest.

I think there is something to be said for choosing a square that is too small for your protest - it makes it look like there are more people. The central square in Mexico City is so large that even though there were about 800 people at the protest, it looked like a handful. It seemed even more ridiculous in comparison to the number of police and transit officers who were stationed around the perimeter. We got great views though, so it was well worth the overpriced meal.

Afterwards, we walked around and through the pedestrian zone where we saw a couple of fairly magnificent churches which were still small fry in comparison to the cathedral which was, unfortunately, closed. The area was busy but not packed and the walk to the end and back was enjoyable. We couldn't quite figure out how to get home since we had been warned not to hail a taxi cab and didn't know if the metro was safe but we couldn't find a taxi stand. Finally, I got tired enough that death seemed a small price to pay for the possibility of getting home.

So, we have had some pretty good touring so far - yesterday we went to the Frida Kahlo museum which was amazing. Then we ate dinner on the square in Coyoacan...where, unfortunately (or hilariously depending on who you ask) the waiter spilled an entire tray of beer on my head. I've been less soaked after swimming. The meal was good, despite my sticky and soaking condition but, to my surprise, they still charged us for the beer. Matt stepped in and explained the ridiculous nature of the charges until they were willing to give up and give in.

I had really been looking forward to the beer because just before we left for the center, Violet managed to get herself locked in the bathroom in our apartment. The small window in the bathroom only opened about 3" and I had to stand on the kitchen counter and tell her soothing stories while Pepe went to the car, brought back a flat head screw driver, and removed the door from the hinges to let her out.

Needless to say, we have an open door bathroom policy now.

Tomorrow, we have an appointed at the Luis Barragan house museum and hopefully will get to see the Chapultepec Palace.

We sent Matt up to his room laden with water bottles. Wish us luck!

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