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Half-Way Point May 30, 2010

Posted by awheble in Travel Log.
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So I have officially crossed the half-way point of the Mexico LBAT program and I hate to think that I only have 3 weeks left in DF (Distrito Federal aka Mexico City).

On Tuesday, we spent the day visiting lots of famous murals, which are a huge part of the culture here and can be found all over the city. The Muralist Movement started after the Mexican Revolution as a way to teach the illiterate people of the country about their history. Our art tour started with Diego Rivera’s work at Secretaria de Educación Pública and continued with one of Rivera’s first murals “La Creación” and the works of Jose Orozco at the San Ilfenso College, an old Jesuit school that Benito Juarez converted into the first high school system in Mexico. After lunch, we visited the Palacio Nacional, a beautiful palace that Hernán Cortes reconstructed from the materials and original structure of Moctezuma’s palace. Here Diego Rivera painted his enormous and very famous “México a través de los siglos,” which covers the entire stairway of the main staircase and is a huge mural depicting Mexican history from the Mexicas to the Revolution. We finished our day at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which houses an art gallery, architecture museum, a huge theatre, and (our reason for going) the murals of Los Tres Grandes: Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros.

Tuesday night we went to a famous Cuban restaurant called Le Bodequita de Medio where the walls are covered with the signatures of famous political figures, celebrities, and even Ernest Hemingway. There we took salsa lessons, which were so much fun! It was a little tricky at first because all the turns have a different name depending on whether the guy or girl is supposed to move, but after we got that figured out I became a salsa dance pro…not really but I definitely got better!

Wednesday, we went to Tlatelolco, which used to be the huge marketplace for the people of Tenochtitlan and held all the merchant booths known as “tianguis.” The ruins of the marketplace including the stalls and a large templestill stand. Tlatelolco was also the site of the final defeat of the Mexicas by the Spanish Conquistadores in 1521. Next to the ruins is a large Catholic church of the 17th century and surrounding the church and the ruins is a huge housing complex of the 1960’s. For this reason, the plaza there is named La Plaza de Los Tres Culturas because it represents the Pre-Colombino, La Colonial, y La Contemporáneo. The plaza was also the site of the tragic massacre of a student protest by the Mexican government before the 1968 Summer Olympics. Though the government originally portrayed the killings as self-defense shooting that only killed around 20-30 people, later investigations revealed the actual numbers were close to 300 and included women and children. With a tragedy of each of the three eras, the site is a very sensitive and quiet place.

Back in April, I found out that Paul McCartney would be coming to Mexico during my LBAT program. Well the day that tickets came out, I went on to Ticketmaster Mexico about an hour after they were released, only to find out that they were ALL gone! I was so bummed that I wouldn’t be able to go, but luckily Sir Paul McCartney decided to allow his concert to be broadcasted live onto a giant movie theatre screen in El Bosque de Chapultapec (a giant park close to my apartment). So Friday night, five of us headed over to the park and were in the third row behind the screen. It actually worked out great because we ended up seeing more of the concert than we would have if we were in the general admission section of the real concert and they still had lots of lights and effects to make us feel like we were there. Naturally, the concert was amazing, especially my favorite song “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da.” You could tell he was having a blast trying to speak a little Spanish and he finished the night with 8 encore songs! You might be saying to yourself, “I had no idea that the Beatles were so popular in Mexico,” but let me tell you it’s quite possible they love him just as much as in the states. 60,000 tickets sold out in 3 minutes and 10,000 people (the max number allowed) showed up to watch the broadcast. The crowd also knew every word to every song!

Finally, my week finished with a Saturday- day trip to Valle de Bravo. Valle de Bravo is a small pueblo about 2 hours from Mexico City that is nestled in the foothills that encircle a beautiful lake. The town is very quaint with a gorgeous colonial church, a classic Mexican style plaza where the locals gather to chat and sell handicrafts, and white stucco buildings with terracotta roofs that line the narrow cobble stone streets. It was amazing and a nice break from the fast paced city life I have become so accustomed to. I started the day with a classic Mexican lunch of tacos and coca-cola (its sweeter here…no lie) on a balcony over looking that plaza. We then took a boat to the other side of the like, where we hiked 30 minutes through the hills to the Velo de la Novia (Bride’s Veil) waterfall. We climbed over rocks and through the creek to the base of the fall (which is about 114 feet high) and just stood beneath the cold waters. Finally, after the captain of our boat had to drag us out of there (we really didn’t want to leave), we spent the afternoon wandering through the shops of the town.

I have a busy week coming up with two tests, but next weekend we will be going to Puebla, which is another colonial town outside of Mexico City famous for its architecture and pottery.

Have a wonderful week!

Pictures

1.) In front of Diego Rivera’s ““México a través de los siglos.” That was only a small part of it so you can imagine how enormous it is.

2.) At the “concert” completely surrounded!

3.) Paul McCartney waving a Mexican and British flag. I must say his Spanish wasn’t bad.

4.) The view of Valle de Bravo from the boat.

5.) The streets of Valle de Bravo.

6.) In front of the plaza and church.

7.) On the rocks at the waterfall.

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