Mexico City wasn't all madness. One day I caught the metro to visit Frida Kahlo's house in Coyoacan. Here's a short story from my time there. To check out my other short stories about Mexico have a look here.
|Frida's House in Coyoacan|
Photo by kudumomo
I loved the hustle and bustle of
downtown, but I fancied getting away. The difference in a short metro ride to
Coyoacan was astounding. As soon as I stepped out of Viveros metro station the
tension oozed away. The air was fresher, less people filled the streets, and I
Why had I been in the
centre for so long? What had I become accustomed to?
As I wandered through a
park, young adults jogged along the gravel path and black squirrels scurried
about in the fallen leaves. They were braver than the grey squirrels in
England. One came right up to my feet for a sniff before darting away.
My main aim of the day
was to visit Frida Kahlo’s house on Calle
Londres. Finding the artist’s casa
azul – blue house, was easy. Blue and green should never be seen wasn’t
an expression that Frida stood by; the thick green wooden door, now the
entrance to the museum, contrast against the Chelsea blue exterior.
“Welcome to Frida’s
house,” said an elegant lady as she gave me a map.
I felt eerie being
inside a house where Frida was born, lived, and died, but for Mexicans it was lucky.
Paintings hang up on the walls, dusty ornaments rested on wooden shelves and
cupboards, and glamorous dresses hung up for all to see.
As I strolled round the
small courtyard I imagined her painting. She must have loved creating her images
while surrounded by smell of tree blossom and flowers.
|The Elephant Man and the Caterpillar|
Photo by libbyrosof
Frida was married to
Diego Rivera, or the Elephant Man, according to her father. If I had been
Diego’s father, I would have called Frida the Caterpillar Woman because of her
dark, bushy, mono-brow that hung over her mysterious eyes.
The poor woman had a
hard life. When she was six, she caught polio which left her right leg thinner.
She wore long skirts to disguise the catastrophe, but other kids teased her. At
eighteen, she was in a tragic bus accident and damaged her spine, collarbone,
ribs, pelvis, foot, shoulder, and an iron handrail pierced her abdomen injuring
her uterus. Frida was in and out of hospital more than Michael Jackson.
Perhaps that’s why she seems so miserable in her self-portraits, or maybe
because of her rollercoaster relationship with The Elephant Man.
Frida had lesbian
experiences, which Diego didn’t mind so much, but her affairs with men,
including Leon Trotsky, left Diego mad, jealous, and twisted; forcing him to
have a fling with Frida’s younger sister. Apparently, one woman was with the
Elephant and the Caterpillar. I wonder whether the trunk of Diego was more
effective than the soft, seductive, wriggling movements of Frida.
|Plaza Hidalgo. Never saw it at night.|
Photo by Juan Lujan
I meandered towards the
centre, rested on a bench in plaza Hidalgo, and let the sun warm up my face.
Locals seemed friendlier, happier, and cleaner than downtown. An artist stood
painting in one corner and young kids ran about a podium in the centre. I
strolled round the markets, checking out the clothes, smiling at the sellers,
and smelling the candles. Gringos sat outside cafés sipping coffee. Hidalgo was
a sunny, chilled out, and bohemian square.
The Museum of Popular
culture had a display on their staple diet, maize, still popular now. Corn has
always been a vital crop for Mexicans and explains why the smell of it burning
on barbeques fills the city. Recently, local Indian families, who rely on maize
for income, have come under threat because of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Cheaper genetically modified corn is replacing the standard
crop, ruining some families’ lives.
As I watched locals roam
about nattering in Spanish, I wondered if Coyoacan would be a good place to set
up an English language school. The barrio was a lovely peaceful, romantic, and
quaint part of the capital. I would love to have stayed there, learning
Spanish, reading and writing in the square, and jogging with the squirrels
every morning. What would Coyoacan be like in the winter when the rain came,
would the place become deserted or would locals dance and splash in the
Frida may have had the
pleasure of living there, but I had to keep searching for my new home.
Labels: Coyoacan, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, life in mexico, Mexico, Michael Jackson, peace in mexico, TEFL Mexico, travelling in mexico