Coffee and History and Music on a Valentine Birthday
14 February 2016 | Mexico City
Beth / pleasantly warm
After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, we strolled to Chapultepec Park once more to visit Charles' favourite café, and quickly understood how it gained that status. It sits right beside a lake and is a bookstore/café combined. In contrast to the cosy Trident Bookstore/Café in Halifax (one of our favourites back home) this one is airy and bright - much of it open air, and on the bright sunny morning we were there, it was just about the perfect place to sit with a cappuccino and good friends, gazing out over the little paddleboats and rowboats in the water.
Charles needed to go home to do his Spanish homework, so Linda, Jim and I crossed the street to make an all too short visit to the Museo Nacional de Antropología. We knew we didn't have a lot of time for a serious visit, but we really wanted to get at least a taste of this huge and well-designed museum. Built in the 1960's, two levels of exhibit halls surround a large courtyard with an immense umbrella-like roof rising from the centre. In the two hours we were there, we visited only the lower level on one side, with special attention to the Teotihuacán hall. According to the guidebook, the ground floor exhibits are of pre-Hispanic Mexico, while the upper level shows how indigenous descendants live today. There is a fair bit of English text, allowing even those of us without fluent Spanish to understand the exhibits.
Our normal 20-minute walk back to the apartment tripled as we discovered literally hundreds of police officers lining the Paseo de la Reforma and clusters of Papa Francisco fans waiting to see him pass by. We waited too, enjoying the lively singing of groups of nuns (most of them young) and wondering if maybe we might catch a glimpse of him, but after asking several times when he might be coming, and getting answers ranging from 3 hours to 2 hours to 1 ½ hours, we continued on our way because we still had places to go and things to do! After a video call with Liam, our New Zealand son who was calling from a phone booth that is now a wifi hot spot (cool eh?) a short time to put our feet up and a change of clothes, we were ready to head off on the next activity of the day. And we were a block and a statue away from seeing the pope pass by! We're pretty sure that he went by on the far side of El Angel as we dashed down the side street, because we saw a whoosh of cars and just as we got close, the crowd started to disperse.
We had enjoyed lunch at the Argentine restaurant, Quebracho one day, and decided it would be the perfect place to have a birthday dinner - and it was indeed. We all had steaks, BBQ'd to perfection and some very good red wine. And then we were off again!
Charles and Linda had been able to purchase tickets for the Ballet Folklorico Mexico that evening so we set off down the Reforma, past the Monument to the Revolution and through Alameda Park, to the splendid Palacio de Belles Artes.
This gorgeous building was started in 1905 and finished in 1930 in a Neo Classical exterior and a more modern, Art Deco interior. Unfortunately the upper floors are closed in the evenings so we couldn't view the murals, but the theatre itself is absolutely stunning. We had lots of time to examine the main floor, and if we had known, we could have stayed outside where an opera was being shown (free of charge) on a large screen at the side of the building. Our tickets said show time was 9 P.M. and we got there about 8:15, but turned out that the theatre doors didn't even open until 9. Once they did, there was a great rush of people finding their seats before the performance started at 9:20!
I am not sure why it is called the Ballet, because the key word is Folklorico! We
were enthralled by 1 ½ hours of non-stop music and dancing that showcased the colours and steps and sounds from all over Mexico. Quick-footed hombres clicked their heels, and mujeres with dresses containing metres and metres of bright fabrics twirled their skirts while mariachis played the music of the traditional dances. The beat of the drums in the opening number drew us in from the start and we especially enjoyed one interpretive dance that told the story of indigenous hunters and a brilliantly performed deer.
By the time the curtain fell, and we made our way outside, we all decided that rather than walking the 45 minutes home or taking the Metro, hailing a taxi was the best option - because we had more celebrating to do - and it was long after cruiser's midnight!
Linda had a heart shaped birthday cake waiting in the fridge, so we ended the day with chocolate and birthday wishes for Jim after an exceptional day of fun and activity. Charles and Jim were best friends waaaay back in Amherst Regional High School days, and the friendship among all four of us is something we treasure. What a treat to celebrate this Valentine/Birthday in Mexico City with them.
I added some pics to the Mexico City album.