Texcoco

Texcoco

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Favorite Museums in Mexico City

I have mentioned before that Mexico City claims to have more museums than any other city in the world.  There are supposedly around 150 museums there.  I was trying to compile a list of all those which I have visited, and, although I probably missed a few, I came up with forty.  Some, of course, are more interesting than others, but the majority were worth visiting.  On my upcoming trip to Mexico I will probably see a few more. 

Out of the museums that I have visited, here are my five favorites.

1.  The National Museum of Anthropology




The famous Sun Stone is the centerpiece of the Aztec Hall.

My list is in no particular order, but this museum is definitely my number one favorite and is the one museum which no visitor to Mexico City should miss.  It is one of the great museums of the world.  The building, which opened in 1964, is in itself a stunning work of modern architecture.  The ground floor displays the world's largest collection of artifacts from the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mexico.  The upper floor has ethnographic exhibits dealing with the indigenous peoples of Mexico today.  I have visited this place countless times.  I never tire of it, and I always find something that I had not noticed before.

2. The Museum of the "Templo Mayor"

   
A life-size clay figure of an Aztec Eagle Warrior

In 1978 a utility crew working under the streets of Mexico City discovered an enormous Aztec carving.  This marked the beginning of a project to excavate the foundations of the "Templo Mayor", the main Aztec temple.  Thousands of artifacts were found, and in 1987 a museum was built to house the discoveries.  Although much smaller than the Anthropology Museum, it has an impressive collection which is dramatically displayed. (The building was designed by the same architect who did the Anthropology Museum.)

3. The Museum of Popular Arts

  
Paper mache "Judas" figures

This museum opened in 2006, and is located in an Art Deco building which once served as Mexico City's central fire station.  It contains an excellent collection of Mexico's wide variety of handicrafts and folk art from the past and present.  It is just large enough to provide a satisfying visit without inducing "museum fatigue". 

4. Chapultepec Castle


Chapultepec Castle was built in 1775 to serve as a home for the Spanish viceroys.  Throughout its long history it has served as a military academy, an imperial palace, an observatory, and a Presidential home.  It is the only castle in North America to have served as a royal residence (during the ill-fated reign of Emperor Maximillian in the 1860s).  Since 1939 it has served as the National Museum of History.  Although the historical artifacts may not be of great interest to the casual visitor, the museum features numerous mural paintings by some of Mexico's top artists which portray events in the country's history.  There are also rooms with the lavish furnishings of the Emperor Maximillian and his wife Carlota.  The terrace of the castle offers a great view of the city.

5. The National Museum of Art



A visit to this museum is worthwhile if only to see the spectacular building in which it is housed.  It was built in the early 1900s as the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works.  The museum contains Mexican art from the colonial era up to the mid-20th century.   I find the rooms filled with colonial religious art to be rather dreary.  What I love about this museum is that it contains the world's largest collection of paintings by my favorite Mexican artist, José María Velasco.  Velasco was a 19th century painter famous for his beautiful landscapes portraying the Mexican countryside.



As I said, I have enjoyed most of the museums that I have visited in Mexico City.  Which was my least favorite?  Without a doubt, the Jumex Museum.  Jumex (Jugos Mexicanos) is an important company which sells juices and other beverages.  In 2013 they opened a museum to showcase contemporary art.  I admit that I am not a fan of much of what passes for art these days.  There was not that much on display at the museum.  It was all avant-garde stuff, most of which I found laughable.  It is pretty sad when I found the design of the public restroom to be more interesting than what was hanging of the gallery walls!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Daffodils



During the exceptionally mild February that we had in Ohio, the spring bulbs had all started sprouting early.  The daffodils were tall and forming buds.  Then in March we had a couple cold spells with more snow than we had in the entire previous month.  The clumps of daffodils looked half dead amid the snow.  Now the weather has warmed up again.  The leaves of the daffodils sprang back to life, but there do not seem to be very many flowers.  However, the few blooms that have appeared are a cheerful welcome to spring.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Keeping Within the Limits

I have done most of the packing for my upcoming trip to Mexico.  (Less than two weeks to go!)  Packing light is definitely not the motto for this trip.  Since I will be allowed to keep clothes at my new apartment, I am taking a lot more stuff than usual.  In addition to my abundance of clothes and all the other usual items, I am bringing gifts for Alejandro and his family.  I will be there for Alejandro's birthday and for Easter.  We are going to have an Easter egg hunt for his little nephew, so I bought plastic eggs and several bags of candy.  

I will be flying on United to Chicago, and since I have a credit card through United, there is no charge for a checked piece of luggage weighing up to fifty pounds.  From Chicago to Mexico City I will be on Interjet Airlines.  Interjet allows a checked suitcase weighing up to fifty five pounds free of charge.  However, unlike United, they also weigh the carry-on luggage, and they allow twenty-two pounds.

Today I did a trial run of weighing my suitcases.  My big suitcase weighed forty five pounds.  My carry-on was twenty one pounds.  There is the problem.  I still have to make a batch of fudge for Alejandro's family, and that will go in the carry-on.  It will probably add a couple more pounds.  So I started taking some things out of the carry-on and putting them in the big suitcase.  I weighed them again, and my carry-on came in at 19.6 pounds.   I think I will make it just under the wire! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Aztec Language Lives






(images from the web)




The Aztecs, the tribe which dominated central Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish, spoke a language called Nahuatl.  Nahuatl is part of the Uto-Aztecan language family, and is thus distantly related to the native languages of numerous tribes in the southwestern United States, such as Hopi and Shoshone.

Nahuatl is by no means a dead language.  Dialects of Nahuatl, many of them quite distinct from the "classical" language of the Aztecs, are spoken by 1.5 million people in Mexico today.  Ten percent of those people speak only their Nahuatl tongue.

Even beyond those native speakers, the presence of Nahuatl is very much alive in Mexico.  The map of the country is strewn with place names of Aztec origen.  Chapultepec, Xochilmilco, Popocatépetl, and Jalisco are among the countless places throughout the country whose names derive from Nahuatl.  Even the name of the country itself comes from "Mexica", the name by which the Aztecs called themselves.

When the Spanish arrived they saw many animals, plants and foods which they had never seen before.  They adapted the Nahuatl words to Spanish.  In some cases those words spread to other languages including English.  "Aguacate" (avocado) comes from "ahuacatl", "guacamole" comes from "ahuacamolli", "coyote" from "coyotl" and  "tomate" from "tomatl".  And we must not forget "chocolate" from "xocolatl".  As you can see, the Spanish just couldn't get the hang of that "TL" sound which is so common at the end of Aztec words.  They usually changed it to a "TE".

In addition to the words which have entered the Spanish language in general, the Mexicans use many words of Nahuatl origen which might not be understood by people from other Spanish-speaking countries.  Here are a few of them...

popote (drinking straw)
petate (a woven sleeping mat)
huipil (a traditional women's garment)
huaraches (sandals)
chamaco (slang for boy)
chamarra (jacket)
tianguis (outdoor market)
papalote (kite)
molcajete (mortar and pestle used for making sauces)
metate (stone for grinding corn)
jacal (shack)
escuincle (child)
chapulín (grasshopper)
mole (sauce)
guajolote (turkey)

So when you head out to the "tianguis" to buy some "aguacates" to make "guacamole", think of the Aztecs!





Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Benito


(image from the web)

Today is a national holiday in Mexico, the birthday of Benito Juárez, the country's most revered President.  (He was actually born on March 21st, but, as in the United States, the observance of holidays is often adjusted to create three-day weekends.)  Juarez is often compared to Abraham Lincoln, who was his contemporary.

Juárez was born in 1806 in the town of San Pablo Guelatao in the state of Oaxaca.  He was a full-blooded Zapotec Indian.  His parents died when he was three years old, and he was raised by his grandparents and then an uncle.  As a child, he worked as a shepherd, but at the age of twelve, he walked to the city of Oaxaca to seek an education.  A Franciscan layperson who was impressed with Benito's intelligence, arranged for him to attend a seminary school.  Juárez, however, was not interested in becoming a priest, and he went on to study law.  He entered politics and become a city councilman, a judge, and eventually the governor of the state of Oaxaca.  In an era when mixed marriages were rare, he married a socially prominent, white woman, Margarita Maza.

Due to his opposition to the dictator Santa Ana, he was forced into exile and spent a year in New Orleans.  He returned to Mexico when Santa Ana was deposed, and became the Minister of Justice under the new liberal government of President Ignacio Comonfort.  As minister, he drafted what would become known as the "Ley Juárez" (Juárez Law), which restricted the powers of the Catholic Church and the military.  At that time the Church owned one half of the arable land in the country, and the new law expropriated all Church property.  Juárez was then named the President of the Supreme Court, a position which was next in line to the President. 

In 1857 conservatives opposed to the liberal reforms staged a revolt against the government.  President Comonfort resigned, and the conservatives took control of Mexico City.  The liberals recognized Juárez as the constitutional President, but he had to flee the capital and spent the next several years in Veracruz.  In 1861 the liberals recaptured Mexico City.  Elections were held, and Juárez was chosen as President. 

Juárez almost immediately faced a new crisis.  The years of revolt had left the economy in shambles, and the President cancelled interest payments on foreign loans which had been taken out by the conservatives.  Napoleon III of France, eager to expand his country's influence, used this as an excuse to invade Mexico.  Mexican conservatives, still smarting from their defeat, supported the invasion. The French forces were temporarily halted at the Battle of Puebla (the 5th of May of 1862), but by the following year the French had regrouped and captured Mexico City.  Juárez once again had to flee the capital.  He went to El Paso del Norte (present-day Ciudad Juárez) where he headed the government in exile and directed the resistance to the French invasion.  Napoleon had the Austrian prince, Maximillian von Hapsburg crowned as the (puppet) Emperor of Mexico.

The United States did not recognize the government of Maximillian, and considered the French invasion a violation of the Monroe Doctrine.  However, because the country was in the midst of its own Civil War, the Lincoln government was unable to assist Juárez.  By 1867 Napoleon was faced with pressure from the United States and the growing military threat of Prussia and he withdrew his troops from Mexico.  Without the French army, Maximillian's regime quickly crumbled, and the Emperor was defeated, captured and executed.  The Mexican President returned to the capital in triumph.

Juárez won reelection in 1867 and again in 1871.  In 1872 he died of a heart attack.

Today, the image of Juárez is on the twenty peso bill.  Mexico City's international airport is named after him.  There is scarcely a city in the country that does not have a Juárez Avenue or a monument in his honor.

His most famous quotation is:  "Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz."  (Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Caribbean Flavor




My cousin Gail and her husband Wes wanted to get together with me before we soon take off on our respective trips.  (They are going to Greece and the Balkans; I am headed to Mexico again.)  Gail had read about a little place called "Sabor Miami" in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood, so we went there yesterday for lunch.

The owner of the restaurant is from Honduras.  She had taken over the operation of a small diner that was popular for its pancakes, and a year ago she opened her own place nearby.  She kept the pancakes on the menu but added a variety of Caribbean-inspired dishes.

The café is a tiny hole-in-the-wall.  The owner's mother waited on us.  She is a charming lady who was a school teacher in Honduras.  When I said, "Gracias", she asked me if I speak Spanish.  We then started chattering away in Spanish while Gail and Wes looked on.

We all had "café con leche" to drink.  It was so good I had a second cup.

Wes ordered "cinnamon- roll pancakes".


Gail ordered fried plantains covered with black beans and sour cream, as well as an "empanada".


I had a heaping plate of yellow rice with black beans, shredded pork, "pico de gallo" and a curry sauce.


We all enjoyed our meals, and will definitely return to this unique café!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Corned Beef and Cabbage



(Image from the web)


Today is St. Patrick's Day, and here in the United States it is traditional to serve corned beef and cabbage.  I always wondered about that.  As far as I know corned beef is not a typical dish of Ireland.  And what the heck does the word "corned" in corned beef mean?

It did not take much time on the internet to find the answer.   When poor Irish immigrants arrived in the United States, beef brisket was the cheapest cut of meat that they could find, and cabbage was the cheapest vegetable.  In New York City the Irish learned from Eastern European immigrants the process of preserving meat in brine.  "Corned" refers to the chunks of rock salt used to make the brine.

So will I be having corned beef and cabbage today?  Probably not, since my cousin Gail, her husband Wes, and I are going out for lunch at a Caribbean restaurant!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Roads of Light

Some more pictures from my trip to Mexico City last January...

On my last visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, I noticed a new feature.  They have begun temporary exhibits in which they highlight one piece from their collection and present a detailed analysis of that item. 

The current exhibit which will run through April is called "Caminos de Luz - Universos Huicholes" (Roads of Light - Huichol Universes).


The Huichol people are an indigenous tribe living in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango.  This exhibit focuses on a magnificent piece of Huichol art taken from the museum's ethnographic collection.  (Most visitors to the museum don't even make it to the upper floor which contains a large display on the life and traditions of present-day Mexico's native tribes. So this show gives people a chance to see something they might not otherwise see.) 

On display is a large (4 x 8 feet) example of the yarn art for which the Huichol people are famous.  Colorful strands of yarn are glued with bees' wax or resin to a board.


This work was created in 1980 by a noted Huichol artist by the name of José Benítez Sánchez.

These yarn paintings are much more than just colorful, intricate works of art.  They depict the mythology and religious beliefs of the Huichol people.  The exhibit explains the stories told in this painting.



One myth depicted is of a blue deer who emerged from the sea, and traveled to the desert of Wirikuta, the place of light.  It was pursued by five hunters.  The deer transformed itself in peyote, the hallucinogenic mushroom which is sacred to the Huichol.  The hunters ate the peyote and had visions of the gods.  As they ate, the sun rose for the first time. 

More than any other tribe in Mexico, the Huichol have clung to their ancient beliefs and have resisted conversion by missionaries.  Each year they still make a pilgrimage to the deserts of the state of San Luis Potosí where they gather peyote for their ceremonies.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Reading Material

Whenever I travel I like to take a book with me to read while waiting in the airport, and traveling on the plane.  And during my "downtime" on a trip, I like to read a bit when I am not working on my blog.  Since I will be gone for an entire month on my upcoming trip, I definitely wanted some reading material. 

Unfortunately, ever since Borders went out of business, I must take a 30 minute trek to get to the nearest Barnes and Nobles.  However, I remembered that there is a used bookstore that is not so far from my house.  I decided to go there today and see if there might be some books that interested me.  I spent a pleasant half hour browsing, and could have spent much more time.  But after selecting three books, I decided that I had more than enough material for this trip. 



The first book that I chose was "Life of Pi".  I did not see the movie, and it sounded like an interesting story.

I have long been a fan of thick, historical novels that span generations.  I have read most of Edward Rutherford's novels, and I recently finished Ken Follett's trilogy on the twentieth century.  The very first novel of this genre that I read was way back when I was in junior high school.  I read James Michener's "Hawaii" for a school book report.  (Unlike most students, I never chose some thin, quickly read tome.)  "Hawaii" is a fictional account of the islands' history from the first Polynesian settlers to modern times.  Throughout his writing career Michener would follow this format of selecting a place and creating a fictional account spanning its entire history. Years later, the second Michener novel that I read was "Centennial" which takes place in Colorado.  I had just finished my master's degree in Spanish, and after reading over 100 works of literature in Spanish, I was eager to read something in English for a change.

Generally I have enjoyed Michener's novels, but I was not able to get through one of them, "Poland".  (That's odd since my father's side of the family was Polish.)  I saw it at the bookstore, and I decided that I would give it another try.

Finally, I picked up a copy of Shakespeare's "King Lear".   I am ashamed to admit that I have only read three of Shakespeare's plays... "The Tempest", "Julius Caesar", and "Hamlet".  Those were all school assignments.  I have seen several film versions of his works, and I enjoyed most of them (although I suspect that the original language might have been adapted a bit for modern audiences).  I once tried to watch a film of a Royal Shakespeare Company production of "King Lear", and I couldn't understand half of what they were saying.  The paperback that I bought is one of those editions with copious notes explaining the archaic language.  So perhaps I will have a better understanding and appreciation of the Bard's tragedy.

Well, I think those three books should keep me occupied during my trip! 




Friday, March 10, 2017

A Place to Call Home

I have already written several times here about my great opportunity to rent an apartment in Mexico City.  It practically fell into my lap, and I didn't have to do any apartment hunting while I was there in January.  A couple nights ago I talked with the couple that owns the apartment via Skype.  They were in Mexico City at the time getting everything ready for me.  They called in someone from Sears (yes, Sears is a major chain in Mexico), and he checked out all the kitchen appliances to make sure that they were in working order.  They have made a set of keys for me, and, once they return home to the United States, they will send them to me via UPS.  The internet is up and running, so I will be able to send emails and work on my blog immediately.   They don't have cable, but that is not an issue since I don't watch much television.  There is a DVD player, however, so I will be able to use that when I want to watch a movie.  I will even be able to leave clothes in the closet, so I won't have to pack a big suitcase every time I go down there.

I am to call their maid the evening that I arrive.  She will come to the apartment the next day to show me how everything works.  She will come in on a weekly basis to clean and even do my laundry... at a ridiculously low price.

On Google Maps I have been exploring my new neighborhood, and everything I will need is a short walk away.  A Metrobus stop is close, so from there I will be able to get to most parts of the city.  There are plenty of restaurants nearby, although the neighborhood does not have the incredible variety of excellent dining of the Condesa / Roma neighborhoods where I have stayed in the past.  However, with a nice, full-sized kitchen I will be doing more of my own cooking.  There is a Superama supermarket close by, and every Sunday there is an open-air market where I can buy fresh produce just around the corner.

Can you tell that I am excited?  In less than a month I will be back in Mexico City!.

 



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Dreaded "Parquímetro"

As I was going through my photos from my trip to Mexico City in January, I realized that there were a few more pictures that I meant to post.

In a city as huge and congested as Mexico City, parking on the street is, of course, a problem.  In recent years "parquímetros"... parking meters... have been installed along the streets in certain upscale neighborhoods.  On one of my trips a few years ago, plans had been announced to put in parking meters in Condesa, the neighborhood where I was staying.  There were banners and rallies to protest the proposal.  Many of the older homes and apartment buildings do not have garages.  For residents who have no where to park but on the street, constantly feeding the meter would be an inconvenience.  In spite of the opposition, the "parquímetros" were installed, and, as far as I know, the unfortunate residents do not receive any special dispensation. 

Now at intervals along every street you see these machines...

  
You put some coins into the machine... 2 pesos (10 cents) for every fifteen minutes.  The machine then spits out a ticket that you place on top of the dashboard by the window.  In Condesa the parking rules are enforced from 8 AM until 8 PM on Mondays through Wednesdays and from 8 AM until 1 AM on Thursdays through Saturdays.

What happens if you don't feed the meter?

As I was walking to the weekly outdoor market in Condesa, I saw this truck parked along the street.  It was probably a produce truck, and obviously the driver had not paid the meter or his time had expired.

   
A clamp is placed on the tire, and is not removed until the fine is paid.  The driver can pay the fine (around 500 pesos... $25 US) at one of the ubiquitous convenience stores... Oxxo or 7-Eleven.

According to an article written in 2015, EcoParq, the city department in charge of the "parquímetros", collected $6.7 million (US) in the first four months of that year.  Supposedly 30% of the revenues are to be spent for neighborhood improvements.  However, at the time when the article was written, there was no transparency as to how that money was being spent.



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Street Names

Whenever I am walking around Mexico City or driving with my friend Alejandro, I always find it interesting to pay attention to the names of the streets.  Many of the "colonias" or neighborhoods have a theme for their street names.

In the neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma the streets offer a lesson in Mexican geography.  Most of them are named after Mexican states and cities, and a few are named after mountain peaks.  Here you will find Avenidas Veracruz,  Michoacán, or Tamaulipas, Calles Laredo, Jalapa, or Celaya, and Calles Citlaltépetl, Popocatépetl or Iztaccíhuatl (Mexico's three highest mountains).  There are a few exceptions to that theme. Six streets, which head in the direction of Chapultepec Park, are named after the "Boy Heroes", the six teenaged cadets who died in the Battle of Chapultepec.  There is also the street on which I have stayed on my last several trips to Mexico City... Avenida Amsterdam.

One would expect Avenida Amsterdam to be located not in the Condesa neighborhood, but in the "Zona Rosa".  There the streets are named after European cities, and have names such as Hamburgo, Liverpool and Copenhague.  If you travel north from the "Zona Rosa" you will find yourself in a neighborhood where the streets are named after rivers.  There are Río Amazonas, Río Danubio, and Río Tiber, to name a few.

Over in the ritzy district of Polanco, the streets bear the names of scientists, writers and philosophers.  Galileo, Tennyson, and Rousseau are a few the people honored there.  I must admit that some of the names seemed rather obscure to me.  I had never heard of the German dramatist Hermann Sudermann, the French historian Hippolyte Taine or the Italian poet Torquato Tasso.

When I return to Mexico City in April, I will be staying in the neighborhood of Nápoles.  Here the streets are named after states and cities in the United States... Nebraska, Kansas, Rochester, Filadelfia.  My apartment will be on Texas (pronounced TAY-hahs in Spanish).  Wouldn't it have been ironic if the apartment had been on Ohio, my home state?


In the historic center of the city, the street names are a mixed bag.  Some of the streets are named after heroes of Mexican history (Francisco Madero, Ignacio Allende) or famous dates in Mexican history (5 de Mayo, 16 de Septiembre).  But a recurring theme is Latin American nations (República de Cuba, República de Colombia, República de Guatemala, etc.).


In the neighborhood where Alejandro lives, the streets are all named after Mexican port cities.  Across town where he works, they are named after Mexican beaches. Then if you travel a short distance from the "beaches" district, the streets are named after professions.  Here you have "Economistas", “Cardiólogos”, and “Geólogos”.  Can you imagine living on "Calle Urólogos" (Urologists' Street)?!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Winter Morning

Through much of February we have enjoyed spring like temperatures here in Ohio.  However, Mother Nature apparently wanted to remind us that according to the calendar we are still in winter.

This morning when I woke up, I discovered that we had received several inches of snow during the night.


It was the first time this winter that I had to use the snow blower.

This March snow will not last long though.  By Sunday the temperature will approach 50 F.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Bit of Fauna with the Flora

Yesterday I wrote about our visit to the orchid show at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. 

Of course the emphasis at a botanical garden is on plants.  But the Costa Rican rainforest and Madagascar desert habitats in the Cleveland conservatory also contain some of the animal life of those regions.

There are a couple of tortoises roaming the desert garden.  This fellow was enjoying a lunch of fruits and vegetables which had just been set out for him.



A volunteer with the Botanical Garden came out with this male chameleon.  I was surprised at how colorful it was.


The volunteer explained to us that chameleons change colors not for camouflage, but as a means of communication.  She then brought out another male, and they immediately changed color to express their displeasure upon seeing another male in the same territory.  Females will change colors to show whether or not they are willing to mate.

We then followed the volunteer into the rainforest display.  Every afternoon there is a release of a variety of Central American butterflies which have just emerged from their cocoons. 


A large "owl butterfly" landed on the volunteer's face.


Another butterfly landed on my head.  It tickled as it crawled across my bald pate.  Moments later yet another alighted on my shoulder.


This pretty butterfly landed on my friend's hand.



It's no wonder that when you leave, you pass through a small room with mirrors.  Here you can make sure that you are not accidentally carrying a butterfly beyond the exhibit.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Orchid Mania

A high school friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to "Orchid Mania", the annual orchid show at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  I have been to the Botanical Gardens a number of times, but I had never seen the orchid show there.  I have never attempted to grow orchids, and know nothing about the many varieties, but I certainly appreciate the beauty of the blossoms. Today we went to see the show.

In the hall leading from the lobby there was a display of different kinds of orchids.







They were very beautiful, but I thought, "Is that all there is?"  No, not at all. 

The Botanical Society's "Glass House" is a large conservatory (large enough to house full-grown trees).  It is divided into two sections... one part is filled with plants from the rainforest of Costa Rica, the other part recreates the spiny forest of the deserts of Madagascar. 

We entered the rainforest exhibit, and there were orchids displayed everywhere amidst the lush, tropical foliage.  I was surprised that there were still more orchids in the Madagascar section.  (I don't know if there are some varieties which grow in more arid climates, or if they have to water each orchid individually for the duration of the show.)

Here is a small sample of some of the blossoms which we saw today...




















A butterfly attracted to the fragrant flowers.