Sunday, April 07, 2019

More Mexican Muralists

Friday, February 22

Although I want to visit the Ciudad Universitaria which has numerous murals and mosaics created by “The Three Greats;” Diego, Orozco and Siqueiros, Art vetoes that idea. The University is a city in itself and the art pieces we want to see are scattered over miles of campus.  330,000 students attend the university. We decide on a less ambitious day and after another inspiring view breakfast at our hotel, we set off to find the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso. This hidden gem, a Jesuit monastery and an example of Colonial architecture is a few streets behind the Zocolo and has some wonderful murals by the ‘Three Greats’ and others. I am struck by a mural of Cortez with his indigenous mistress and the luminous stained glass in the stairwell.

Marty at Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso
Cortez and his indigenous mistress - Orozco
Jose Clemente Orozco

Detail of Orozco mural

I regret I cannot match all of the murals with their corresponding artists but I imagine that Maurice Sendak was inspired by these murals because his ‘Wild Thing’ monster character looks nearly identical to a creature in one of the murals. The downstairs theatre is closed but fortunately, musicians are wrapping up a rehearsal and we are able to slip inside. We are cautioned not to take photographs but we get a firsthand glimpse of Diego’s early mural, Creation, strikingly illuminated by the lights of the stage.

Just around the corner from our hotel is the Cathedral Café where we have been meaning to dine but because it closes at 3:00 P.M. our timing has been off until today. (This restaurant is on the “foodie” list.)   We enter the unassuming ground floor bakery and goat cheese shop to discover that there are two floors above. A stylish woman juggling seating charts and a microphone takes our names and within minutes she points us to an elevator and we ascend to the third floor and emerge into an elegant and light filled dining room.

View through the elevator door

A salad art piece

Art and I always share so we orchestrate our order so we can taste a variety of dishes. The salad we order is both delicious and an art piece and we order two different types of enchiladas. (We are not disappointed.)

This is our last full day and we are still ticking Diego Rivera murals off our must see list. We walk to Mueso Mural Diego Rivera, one that we overlooked a few days ago. It is home to one of his most famous murals, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park. The museum is just one room, showcasing this panoramic mural and we spend our time resting on the gallery bench and identifying the characters portrayed in the mural.

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon...
Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park

Photos of Diego Rivera

After a week of intense site seeing, Art and I are tired and sated but I feel I will regret not picking up a few souvenir gifts. I peruse the guide book and map and discover we are near the local craft market. Art humors me and we walk many more blocks in search of the permanent market that engulfs many blocks. We enter a warren of stalls, each one selling identical merchandise and Art is surprisingly patient as I try on several blouses in the hopes of transforming myself into a young Frida Kahlo. Alas, the blocky cuts are unflattering and I am soon disheartened, but had we not come here, I would have felt that I had missed something.  We UBER back to our hotel, rest a short while and head out for an early dinner at Restaurant Mumedi on Avenue Francisco in the heart of the trendy shopping district. Mumedi has good reviews but turns out to be more like a museum bookshop cafeteria than a restaurant. Although the food is good and stylish, they don’t serve any alcohol and we miss sipping wine with our meals. After dinner, we peruse the gift shop but overall I am disappointed with our dinner choice on our last night out.

We wander from dinner to an upscale bar with fashionable drinks but the music is loud and unlike us, the crowd is young and gearing up for their Friday night. Still not ready to give up on a last night Mexico City fling, we walk from the tourist district and choose a local cantina where we sit and people watch over a mediocre drink before strolling back to our hotel and sinking into bed.

Saturday, February 23rd  Homeward Bound

I’ve coordinated our separate flights back ‘home’ so that Art and I are able to enjoy a leisurely morning together. We forgo our hotel breakfast and walk around the corner to the Cathedral Café.
Yesterdays’ lunch was stellar and we want to sample their extravagant yet affordable breakfast (affordable by California standards.) Art has his shoes shined on the way and by the time we arrive at the restaurant there is a 30 minuet wait.

Art having his shoes shined
Waiting for a table

We put our names on the list, return quickly to our hotel to pack and are back at the restaurant just in time for our names to be called. We ride the elevator up to the first floor and are seated. A waiter immediately appears wielding a silvery pot of coffee and a white ceramic pitcher of Mexican hot chocolate. Having read the rave reviews over the hot chocolate, I throw cation aside and watch as the waiter froths the thick and creamy concoction. Another waiter discretely slides pastries onto our plates and we inhale the calories and the old world ambiance.  After the cholesterol high hot chocolate, I order an egg white, goat cheese and poblano pepper omelet, not because of its health attributes but because it sounds delicious. Art orders an omelet wrapped in squash blossoms and both our breakfasts are amazing.

Squash blossom omelet at the Cathedral Cafe
Egg white and pepper omelet

We fast walk off some of the calories to have a repeat look at the Diego Rivera Murals at the National Palace. There is no line at the palace and we are able to spend another 30 minutes admiring the murals.

A last look at the Diego Rivera Murals at the National Palace
The reality of time dawns on us and we call for an UBER and are soon our way to the airport. Our two different flights depart 20 minutes apart from different airline terminals. All goes seamlessly.  Art’s return flight to San Jose del Cabo is an easy two hours. My return flight to California is a bit more painful involving two flights and a 4 hour layover in LAX. I arrive back in San Jose by 9:00 P.M. and am pulling in my driveway before midnight.

Taking off over Mexico City - 21 million population!