Our apartment is on the third floor of a 6-unit corner building: lots of floor to ceiling windows, tile floors, fairly uncomfortable cheap furniture, a fridge that froze everything until I turned the freezer all the way down, all the outlets are two-prong-only. It's comically comfortable living, with a large dining & living room on the corner and a stove with an oven, a relative rarity here.
You'd think we'd be on a quiet backstreet from the look of it, but the streets of Mexico City are always noisy: at this moment I can hear an ambulance, a metal grinder from nearby house construction, and a rooster. We were awakened our first day here at 8am by the garbage men ringing bells in the street - and ringing our doorbell, "Basura, basura!" followed by two different trucks with loudspeakers playing tapes announcing all the variety of used appliances they would be happy to haul away for you. During the afternoon and into the night all manner of carts and tricycles pass through the streets, also with recorded pitches - from a few blocks away you hear the tamale man coming, then the sweet baked goods, then a wood-fired grill cart that just blows a piercing steam whistle every few houses along. And of course the weekend was filled with large fireworks at all hours, and an after-church parade with a marching band passing under our windows.
I've been reading a lot, as usual, catching up on this spring's Harper's Magazine articles and making my way through a virtual stack of ebooks: so far James Salter's Light Years is the standout, exquisite evocative sentences for a 60's Mad Men setting. Papa Francesco's Laudato Si recent encyclical on social and environmental justice is also quite good so far. We're both studying and writing in the mornings - practicing Spanish is high on the daily list, as we're both preparing to take some dedicated conversational classes at our next stop, and feeling positive that by the end of this trip we'll have our language confidence back to a useful level.
A just-retired colleague of S joined us for most of the first week, a special treat for all of us as she has recently become fascinated with a woman surrealist artist Leonora Carrington who lived in Mexico City for much of her life after moving from England to Paris to live and work with Max Ernst as a young woman, in the same circles as Remedios Varos, Andre Breton, Alberto Giacometti, etc. Carrington was new to me, but her work is fantastic (both excellent and wildly surreal), and we organized our daily outings around experiencing her work & time here. A great bronze sculpture of hers is prominent along the Paseo de la Reforma main boulevard downtown (near the ongoing protests for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa). We also went by her house, revisited Frida Kahlo's house museum, and found her mesmerizing mural The Magical World of the Mayans in the National Anthropology museum. The Modern Art Museum did not have any of Carrington's work from their collection on display, but did have an exhibit of documentary photos by Gisele Freund of many contemporary-to-Leonora Mexican artists, and another exhibit with a number of Varos and Siqueiros.
Food here is amazing as always, highlights so far from market stands have been Tostadas de Pulpo (fried tortilla topped with octopus and avocado), Pambazo de Papas con Chorizo (a torta sandwich dipped in red salsa and filled with potatoes and spicy sausage), and Quesadilla de Huitlacoche (mushroom and corn filled fried tortilla). Plus the abundance of fresh mangoes, pineapple, and guavas.
We are in Mexico City for another week, and then take the bus to Oaxaca City for the next leg of our summer abroad.
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