Over the centuries, thousands of devoted pilgrims have worshipped the Virgin in Villa de Guadalupe in December. I made the trip too, except it was in April, and it was purely out of curiosity. The moving carpets in la Nueva Basílica help expedite the faithful through this, the holiest Roman Catholic shrine in Latin America. And although I, personally, cannot claim to have seen a vision of Nuestra Señora, I did experience a magical happening of my own: the Basílica was a safe haven during a short-lived torrential downpour and a double rainbow greeted me upon exiting.
Although (somewhat) overshadowed by the previous week’s group photography workshop (see post), my stay in Mexico City was superb.
My generous newfound friends Gloria y Harumi invited me for a mariscos-filled lunch at the Mercado Coyoacán. Tummies full, we wandered through la Plaza, once a trading Mecca sponsored by the church, ogling the goods of hundreds of merchants and artesanos who set up shop there on any given weekend. While cruising for a parking spot along tranquil tree-lined streets of colonial homes, the ‘Blue House’ caught my eye. A short time later, we found ourselves exploring the colourful grounds of this, the restored Frida Kahlo Museum, partaking in artwork of Kahlo, Diego Rivera and ancient Aztec, Maya and Olmec artists.
It’s almost as cheap to get a personal driver to take you 50km northeast to the Teotihuacán Archaeological Park than it is to take a tour bus. Brilliantly, I opted for the former. Although I offered to buy him a cold beer while he escaped the scorching sun in the idling car, my driver Arturo was adamant about coming with me up the climbs, insisting it was part of the deal. (!) I couldn’t argue with that, but I drew the line at carrying my knapsack. Dressed to the nines, he looked far too classy to be scaling the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon alongside me. Lesson learned from Arturo: it’s far easier to run up the myriad of steps of the ancient ruins than to trek at a slow pace. No joke.
Back in the city, my driver/tour guide/friend also invited me to dinner – asador y vino argentino – at local restaurant Entre Baires and then for margaritas in the ritzy Polanco district. (I later learned that I tragically missed crossing paths there with Obama by a day!) I savoured the horchata, relished the vast open spaces, and observed arrestingly Sharp Dressed Men (not a reference to ZZ Top).
Lastly, 4 words for you: Museo Nacional de Antropologia. In my humble opinion, it’s worth a trip to Mexico City for this reason alone. ‘Nuff said.