Along pedestrianized Madero Street in the historic heart of Mexico City there are lots of street performers. Last Sunday while Alejandro and I were walking down the street, I noticed one that I had not seen before. A fellow was made up as a painted portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. He stood within a frame, and the backdrop was based on the artist's famous painting "The Starry Night".
I put a coin in the basket to take a picture of him. I should have known that there would be more to his act than simply posing. He proceeded to take out a sheet of paper and do a stick figure caricature of me.
(photo taken by Alejandro)
(photo taken by Alejandro)
So now I can say that I have an original "Van Gogh"!
Yesterday I wrote about the dance festival that Alejandro and I saw in downtown Mexico City last Sunday. After seeing a wide variety of dances at the Alameda Park, we wandered around the "Centro Histórico" for a while and then had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, El Cardenal. By the time we were done with dinner, it was around 6:00 P.M., and we were going to head back to my condo where Alejandro had parked his car. We were trying to decide whether to take the subway or to walk on past the Monument to the Revolution to Insurgentes Avenue where we could take the Metrobus directly to my neighborhood. Fortuitously we decide to walk, because as we approached the monument, we could tell that something was going on. A stage had been set up on the large esplanade in front of the monument, and even from a distance I could tell that a group was performing dances from the state of Yucatán. The closing event of the dance festival was a performance of Mexican dances by a very talented folklore group. We arrived at the stage in time to see the conclusion of the Yucatán segment… the well known dance in which the dancers have trays with glasses of water on their heads.
Fortunately that was not the end of the show. It continued with dances from another region of Mexico. Neither Alejandro nor I were certain as to which part of the country they were from, although Alejandro thought that the dances might be from the state of Michoacán.
Next were a series of lively dances from the country´s north… Mexico´s cowboy country. You might say that these were the Mexican equivalent of a country-western hoe-down.
The final series of dances... Alejandro thinks that they were from the state of Jalisco... obviously represented a wedding celebration. No sedate wedding waltzes here; this was wild fiesta.
It was sorry to see the show come to an end. It was a great ending to my last weekend in Mexico City
Last Sunday Alejandro and I went downtown, unaware that, due to the wildfires in the forested fringes of the city, the government had issued an air quality advisory. We were also unaware the conclusion of a dance festival was being celebrated that day. The air quality was certainly not stopping the performers from dancing with gusto.
Mexico - City that Dances
In the Alameda Park there were several groups performing Mexican folk dances.
It was a hot day, and the men must have been sweltering in their heavy costumes.
A short distance away another group was performing... of all things... Polynesian dances.
At one end of the Alameda, next to the Palace of Fine Arts, a tent and stage had been set up. A group was performing on African drums.
Next on the stage was another group performing Mexican folk dances.
Next a couple performed Spanish flamenco. I am not an expert on flamenco, but we both thought that they were very good; better than some that I have seen. The man's footwork was especially impressive.
After the flamenco there was a modern dance group that gave a truly bizarre performance that I christened the "dance of the zombie prostitutes". At that point we left and wandered around the "Centro Histórico". Before the day was over, however, we encountered more dancing. But that will wait for the next post.
Last Saturday... my last weekend in Mexico City... Alejandro and I took the Metrobus and the subway to a city park that I had not seen before, "Parque de los Venados" (Park of the Deer). The place gets its name from a couple of statues that grace the park.
There is also a large monument to Revolution hero Pancho Villa.
It is a very pleasant park, and on a Saturday afternoon there were a lot of families there. There were a lot of vendors...
… and a lot of activities for the children.
Toy cars to rent
A very nice playground
There was even a section of kiddie rides.
As pleasant as the park is, there was another reason why we came here. That afternoon there was a charity concert organized by various organizations of exiled Venezuelans. They were raising money to feed malnourished children in that beleaguered nation.
There were volunteers collecting money.
Alejandro and I both made donations and received stickers to wear on our chest and ribbons for our wrist.
The concert was held on the stage of a pavilion in the park.
The musical groups were mostly comprised of Venezuelans living in Mexico.
Probably about half of the audience was made up of Venezuelan exiles. I was probably the only "gringo" in the crowd. The concert lasted from 2:00 until 9:00 in the evening. Obviously we did not stay for the entire event. We listened to a couple acts, then strolled again through the park, and then returned to the apartment.
I arrived home in Cleveland yesterday at 6:00 P.M., about a half hour ahead of schedule. My flight from Houston was on an Embraer jet, one of those little planes that I refer to as "puddle-jumpers". The one thing that I don't like about those small planes is that my larger carry-on bag does not fit in the overhead bins, and I have to check it as I board the plane. However, as I got on the jet, there was no one checking luggage. Lo and behold, the overhead bins were big enough for my suitcase. Before we took off, the flight attendant announced that we were on the newest model of Embraer jets, and one of the improvements is larger bins. I had a window seat, and I took some photos as we began our descent for Cleveland.
Flying over the farmlands of Ohio
We reach the western suburbs of Cleveland.
The highway crossing the lower portion of the photo is the Ohio Turnpike.
At the top, you see the shoreline of Lake Erie.
We passed right by Cleveland International Airport...
I am writing this at Houston airport while I wait for my flight to Cleveland.
Yesterday the heat in Mexico City continued as well as the forest fires and brush fires. The air had a strange quality to it... different from the city's usual air pollution. The city outlawed any firecrackers or fireworks due to the danger of more fires, and yet last night there were plenty of firecrackers going off in observance of some religious feast day. "What idiots!" Alejandro complained. This morning when my 7:00 A.M. flight departed from Mexico City the air was extremely hazy. I don't think that it was morning mist, but smoke from the fires. My flight went smoothly. We arrived a half hour early to Houston. From the time that I got off the plane, to the time I went through customs could not have been more than fifteen minutes. There was no line at all at immigration, I didn't have any checked luggage to pick up, and I walked through customs with no questions asked. Later today I will be home where the high today will be a refreshing 62 degrees.
Another month (or actually five weeks) in Mexico City has flown by once again. Tomorrow I fly home to Ohio. I have been spending the day doing last minute chores... going to the bank to pay the water bill for the apartment, wrapping my breakable purchases in bubble wrap, packing up what I need to take home. I will not be returning until October, and the owners of the condo may be coming down here in August, so I also wanted to get some of my stuff out of the way. This evening Alejandro will pick me up on his way home from work. I will spend my last night at his house since it is closer to the airport. Spring is always the warmest season here, but this year has been especially hot. Almost every day since I arrived here it has been in the 80s. That may not seem exceptional, but for a city at an altitude of over 7000 feet above sea level it has been an unusual spring. I think this might be the first time that I have never needed to wear a light jacket when I go out in the evening. It has been short sleeve shirt weather all the way, any time of day. There have been some nights when it has been uncomfortable warm in the apartment, and I have had to turn on the fan. (Most homes in Mexico City do not have air conditioning.) Although there has been some rain, the rainy season does not begin until mid-June. Many plants are looking very stressed from the heat and lack of water. Throughout the country there have been forest and brush fires. Even within the boundaries of Mexico City there are fires on some of the mountains. The air is very hazy... more than the usual air pollution. So, soon I will be back up north where I am told there has been plenty of rain. I still have more to write about this trip, so be sure to come back and read more.