Mexico City: Coyoacan and Trotsky’s House

Coyoacan is magical and I was fully prepared to fall in love before I ever stepped off the metro. Located in southern Mexico City, it was home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Trotsky while in exile, and many more artists and revolutionaries. The neighborhood has this great small town vibe. Lots of folks hanging out in sidewalk cafes, murals for political parties and government campaigns, and generally people just coming and going and saying hi to each other. Started off with a cappuccino at Cafe El Jarocho before walking down to the mercado to shop and admire all the fruits and vegetables. The houses are all brimming with personality; colorful doors, overflowing gardens, brightly colored walls. We took a tour of La Casa Azul, the house Frida Kahlo grew up in and then shared with Diego Rivera. Touring the homes of artists is so different than seeing their work in museums. Frida’s home seems like a particularly strong case for seeing work in the environment it was produced. Confided to bed rest or sick for large portions of her adult life, Frida painted in bed, decorated her body casts, and created murals in her kitchen, every part of the house is covered in art. The museum was showing a temporary exhibit of Frida’s clothing, Smoke and Mirrors: Frida Kahlo’s Dresses. After years in storage the exhibit did a particularly strong job incorporating Frida’s wardrobe into a narrative about her illness, struggle to accept her infertility, and strong Mexican identity.

The personal highlight of Coyoacan was visiting Leon Trotsky’s grave and home in exile. Trotsky has inspired me as a radical, thinker, and a writer. His introduction to the phenomenal History of the Russian Revolution continues to stand as one of the most inspiring pieces of political writing. Whatever you political leanings, it’s impossible to read his account of the solidarity and commitment that linked workers, soldiers, farmers, men, women in the struggle to overthrow the czar and not feel a deep swell of hope in the possibility of humanity. Visiting his grave, much like visiting Marx, was an opportunity, in some small way, to say thank you. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

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Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Mercado, Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Wall of beer, Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Leon Trotsky memorial, Mexico City

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Trotsky House garden, Mexico City

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Leon Trotsky mural, Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Street art, Coyoacan, Mexico City

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Coyoacan, Mexico City

 

PS. I’ve already picked out my rental for my next visit. Tequila tasting on the deck, anyone?

Mexico City: Around the City

After exploring Guanajuato, we headed south to Mexico City for six days. I converted Jorge to the glory of apartment rentals and we stayed in some sweet digs a few blocks away from the Zocalo. (Side note: AirBnB forever! The Mexico City listings are insane.) The first thing that strikes you about Mexico City is it’s sheer size. 15 million people call it home and sometimes it feels like every single one of them is in your subway car with you. It’s big and dirty and loud and lively and full of art with amazing people watching.

During the day we would walk around, checking out museums and admiring all the Riveria murals inside government buildings. Summer is the rainy season so at some point in the afternoon or evening a torrential downpour would unleash and suddenly you’re trying to get home as quickly as possible under your collapsible umbrella (RIP Kat’s purple umbrella. I’m sorry I left you in a cab). The days revolved around eating as they always do on vacation but Mexico City, and Mexico in general, is a special kind of foodie heaven. Everything is delicious. The bad restaurants are merely good. So each night was a tightrope walk of eating as much as possible without feeling uncomfortably full. We both failed a few times. One of the highlights was the lucha match we attended. The entire stadium was packed. Young, old, men, women. Everyone was cheering for bigger than life personalities swaddled in colorful spandex. The little boy, approximately age eight, that sat in front of us responded to the match as if the fate of the world rested on the result. He worshiped his heroes, despised his enemies. That kind of loyalty is admirable.

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Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City

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Mexico City

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Palacio Nacional de Mexico, Mexico City

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Secretary of Public Education Offices, Mexico City

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“History of Justice in Mexico” mural by Rafael Cauduro, Supreme Court of Mexico, Mexico City

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“Class Struggle” mural by Diego Rivera, Palacio Nacional de Mexico, Mexico City

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Mexico City

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Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

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Interior courtyard of our rental apartment, Mexico City

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Mezcal fizz at Artemisia, Roma Norte, Mexico City

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Gin Gin, Condesa, Mexico City

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Gin Gin, Condesa, Mexico City

 

Guanajuato

For the first leg of our Mexican adventure, I joined my buddy Jorge for a family visit and his sister’s wedding in the state of Guanajuato. We spent two days wandering the city of Guanajuato, the state capitol and university town. Built into a hill and full of Spanish colonial architecture, the city center is full of winding cobble stone alleys, pocket-sized squares,  street art, and shady trees. After I was allowed to purchase all the silver jewelry the town would sell me (Full disclosure: if we ever vacation together there’s a lot of sidewalk cafe drinking and purchasing of accessories. You’ve been warned.) we headed to San Luis de la Paz for the wedding of Jorge’s sister. Felicitaciones Nadya y Paco!

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Guanajuato

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Guanajuato

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Micheladas

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You can still throw rice in Mexico!

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World Cup day

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Monumento a El Pipila, Guanajuato

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Teatro Juarez, Guanajuato

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Museo y Casa Diego Rivera, Guanajuato

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Teatro Juarez, Guanajuato