Adele Waller is a childhood friend of Jim’s from Asheville, NC who he has not seen for 50 years. She has been following our blogs and seeing that we are in Mexico City connected us with friends of hers who have been here for 16 years. Never ones to pass up an opportunity to meet new friends, especially locals, we emailed them and set up a date to meet. Miguel Kelley and Ivonne Ruiz Alvarado are both our age and we quickly discovered that we have many things in common. Miguel has been into genealogy for years and immediately discovered that he and Jim are 9th cousins and have a fair amount of overlap on their family trees. On a lovely Saturday morning they picked us up and needless to say this utterly charming couple had us at the first “hello”. They planned the most perfect day for us. We went to San Angel, a picturesque neighborhood with beautiful churches, art galleries and artisan markets.
On Saturday the big draw here is the Bazaar del Sabado, meaning Saturday Market. This is held at Plaza San Jacinto which is a square well known for its outstanding beauty and bloody history. The square saw the hanging of Irish deserters who, during the Mexican American War abandoned the US army and sided with the Mexicans when they realized that it was a Catholic country. A memorial plaque has been placed in the square listing the Irish soldiers names. The lively and upmarket bazaar was a great experience. Sandy’s first purchase was from a young woman with a baby on her back selling wooden bookmarks colorfully painted with birds and animals. Perfect easy pack gift for granddaughter’s who are avid readers. Our next stop was to an old hacienda beautifully restored into an art gallery.
We then perused the indoor upscale shops where we met with some fascinating artisans. Malinali and Paulina Fosado are Mexican twins and prominent fashion designers.
They just returned from a fashion show in Thailand where they combined their indigenous Mexican designs with Thai silk. The outfits from the show were stunning and Sandy did not hesitate to purchase a chartreuse Thai silk embroidered jacket and matching earrings both of which Paulina was wearing.
They were fun and delightful to interact with and we found that they live in our neighborhood of la Condesa.
While Sandy was trying on jackets Jim was drawn to the artisan stall across from them. Jose Antonio Rodriguez Perez is a second generation artist whose father was a prominent blacksmith and one of the founders of the bazaar. Jose studied architecture at UNAM and dedicated himself to sculpture. Jim was attracted to a romantic piece he had created only a few days before. The birth of this sculpture so closely corresponding to our arrival in Mexico City made it an easy decision as a purchase.
It was such a fun shopping experience and a highlight to our day. While shopping we chatted up a South African couple who are now living in Santa Barbara California. They were here for a wedding and we encouraged them to buy a very unique metal chandelier, which they finally did purchase. Wonder what the shipping cost will be?
We ran into them so many times during the day that we ended up exchanging contact info. Shopping does make one hungry so our next stop was to Saks restaurant in the square. Although Saks is a chain which we had already tried in Polanco after a run, this is a place that consistently delivers good quality food in beautifully restored and opulent buildings.
After lunch we went to the Irish soldiers monument and visited a very sweet church just off of the square.
We decided that we had reached our monetary limit in support of the Mexican economy and headed to the nearby home that Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera shared which is now a museum. This home is in fact two separate buildings, a smaller one painted blue for Frida that is the same color as her family home and a larger white terra cotta colored one for Diego. The two houses are connected by a footbridge on the roof terrace.
The home was designed by their architect and artist friend Juan Gorman. Frida and Diego lived here from 1934-39 when they divorced and Frida went back to her family home, Casa Azul. They reconciled and remarried the following year and Diego joined Frida in Casa Azul but he maintained this building in San Angel as his studio. After Frida’s death in 1954 Diego resumed living here full time.
After our tour of this fascinating museum Ivonne and Miguel took us to San Angel Inn which is another restored hacienda. We enjoyed appetizers and drinks with them before returning home. We feel so blessed to have such wonderful opportunities in our retirement adventure and don’t take any day for granted. Thank you to our friends and extended family like Adele who take the interest in what we are doing and provide connections like Ivonne & Miguel which have made this journey even more meaningful. On Monday morning we finally made it back to the Palace of Fine Arts arriving 15 minutes before it opened and still found a long waiting line.
This was the last few days of the Kandinsky exhibit. Wassily Kandinsky was a russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting one of the first recognized purely abstract works. He was influenced by Picasso, Van Gough and Matisse. Being no fan of abstract art we had no interest in this exhibit especially seeing another never ending queue once inside the palace.
We were only interested in seeing the murals by Diego and other Mexican artists that were on the upper levels of the building so we were directed to an elevator which ended up taking us directly to the end of the Kandinsky exhibit. We felt like two fish swimming upstream as everyone else was going in the opposite direction. Glancing at the artwork we decided that it was not worth the effort so we aborted and made our way out to the hallways to enjoy the murals up close.
We left the palace, did some shopping and went to the very popular Azul Historico Restaurant for lunch which is located in a little shopping plaza.
We ended the week with a lovely Sunday afternoon piano concert held on the beautiful veranda of the castle atop Chapultepec Park.
We are truly enjoying the culture and beauty that Mexico City has to offer and to quote Frida Khalo “Viva la Vida”.