Living #Diego Rivera’s A Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the #Alameda Central

Alameda, Mexico City

Alameda, Mexico City

Our first full day, Sunday, in Mexico City brought us to the Alameda Central seeking a late lunch and the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. We found both with unexpected pleasures.

It took us a little while to find a restaurant serving authentic Mexican food. We passed three Burger Kings, two KFCs, a Pizza Hut, and a Krispy Kreme as we walked down the sidewalks lining the Alameda Central. Finally, we spied something that looking interesting. La Trainera beckoned us into its open doors where Jimena Garcia greeted us.

“Are you open for lunch?” I asked.

Jimena answered, “Si, si.”

She brought out a large platter of seafood from which to pick our lunch selection. “I’m sorry I don’t have a menu in English,” she said in impeccable English.

Jimena Garcia, manager of La Trainera, Alameda

Jimena Garcia, manager of La Trainera, Alameda

We chose the red snapper, plus lots of other suggestions by Jimena.

The staff spoiled us for eating anywhere else. The minute my glass of Perrier came close to empty, a waiter materialized to fill my glass. We ate the best cerviche so far on our young trip (and still the best we ate while in Mexico). It was stocked full of shrimp, octopus, and a white fish–all cooked. They began bringing dishes of black beans, rice, corn tortillas, guacamole, salsas, moles, and chips. Then the beautiful red snapper broiled with mild crushed red chiles spread on the fish appeared. The best fish I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Jimena told us the restaurant began as a seafood market and expanded to a restaurant. We’re very grateful it did. The meal we ate there ranks as the best meal ever.

We then began our journey through the park of the Alameda Central, which takes its name from alamos or poplar trees, planted there in the Sixteenth Century. The many fountains are interspersed with trees and lavender bushes in full bloom.naturalspace The park is a gathering place for families on Sunday afternoons. Many of the museums offer free admission so folks can get into see some of the best art of Mexico.

Museo Nacional de Arte

Museo Nacional de Arte

There are several fountains where children and some adults splashed while other family members looked on.

fountainsI’m impressed. Here we were in one of the biggest cities in the world, and yet folks have found their community in the middle of it. We’re not sure why, but many folks were wearing red plastic noses and Santa Claus hats. No matter to us why it was happening; it was wonderful to see such abandon by adults, teenagers, and youngsters alike. I’m not sure we have anything like it in the United States.funtimes

We continued our journey to the Museo Mural Diego Rivera where Mexico’s favorite artist painted and lived. The museum displays his Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central.

The mural shows the history of Mexico along with the dreams and recollections of Diego Rivera. mural1 mural2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It includes two-self portraits and a portrait of his wife and fellow painter, Frida Kahlo.

The small boy is Diego Rivera and standing behind him is Frida Kahlo

The small boy is Diego Rivera and standing behind him is Frida Kahlo

As we gazed at the long mural, musicians began setting up in front of it.  Eventually, they began a program of music with a flutist, pianist, and two operatic vocalists. They stood in front of the painting and serenaded us with songs all in the beautiful and flowing language of Spanish. After two songs, we went up to the second floor rooms to view paintings by other famous Mexican muralists. As I wandered, I could still hear the music as the upper floor was almost a balcony over the main gallery room.

The chords of a familiar song began, but I was certain it couldn’t really be Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but it was. I went to the balcony railing and looked down upon the two female vocalists standing in front of Rivera’s masterpiece. It was difficult to take a photo because of my tears. The women looked up at me as they sang. I threw them kisses at the end, and they bowed their heads slightly in my direction.

 

It was the perfect ending to our Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Life is What Happens

@PCZick

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon from song Beautiful Boy

We planned to celebrate the end of my treatments for two awful viruses that invaded my body last year. Seven months of chemo-like treatments ended in early October, and the viruses were killed–along with my hair follicles. My husband was scheduled for a conference in Acapulco for mid-October so we decided to add some days to his travel itinerary and I would accompany him.

He’d only been to Acapulco once before, and that was with my brother more than forty years ago. My brother died in 2008, and Robert thought it would be nice for me to go to the same places they went as young bucks out for a lark. It might have been one of the few times was my brother was truly happy.

As soon as my treatments ended, I felt wonderful, even better than before. Robert had a cold when we started out, but he’s a healthy guy, and we both were certain with plenty of Vitamin C and lots of fluids, he’d be well by the time we started our journey, first to Mexico City, then by bus to Cuernavaca, and then by bus to Acapulco.

When we first planned the trip, we made reservations for a hotel in Pie de la Cuesta for one night. Pie de la Cuesta is only a few miles from Acapulco but a world away in beauty and pace. Robert and my brother stayed there for most of their month-long sojourn to Mexico. One month before we left, two major storms collided on the Pacific Coast and left Pie de la Cuesta in bad shape. We cancelled the hotel.

We spent our first day in Mexico City walking around the Zocalo and Alameda–the historic center of the city–with Robert sniffling and blowing his nose.

Templo Mayor, Mexico City

Templo Mayor, Mexico City

After a late lunch, we set out in search of the Diego Rivera Museum, but Robert’s sniffles turned into major chest congestion. We were at about 6,500 altitude in the city, and the pollution is omnipresent in any air breathed. He couldn’t walk fast and forget climbing any stairs. I managed to get him back to our hotel room and put him to bed. But he couldn’t sleep lying down, and I couldn’t sleep when he couldn’t take air in. He kept saying, “Get me to the coast.”

DSC03015

bus ride

So we went with an overnight stay in one of the oldest cities in Mexico. Cuernavaca has been inhabited since 1200 BC. Our hotel had a beautiful pool overlooking green hills. The air pollution lifted even though we were only an hour from Mexico City. When we got out of the pool and started to walk up the stairs to the elevators, he couldn’t make it. My active and athletic husband had to stop after each step. We managed a few hours in the historic district, thanks to the concierge at the hotel who arranged for a taxi drop and pick up in a place near the two main plazas of town.

By the time we made it to Acapulco, he was still in bad shape. He tried attending his conference for a few hours, but his coworkers sent him back to the hotel. We never made it to Pie de la Cuesta. We never saw the places where he’d been with my brother.

But as I prepared to get him back to the States, I realized that you can’t really go back because nothing is the same as it was. The trip home was agony as we faced a six-hour bus trip, an overnight at airport hotel and then eight hours of plane trips home. Through the kindness of strangers, we managed with wheelchairs and escorts provided by Courtyard Mexico City Airport and Delta Airlines.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, I drove him straight to the hospital where he was admitted with a severe case of acute bronchitis. They kept him in the hospital for four days. Now a few days later, I can hear him puttering around the house without coughing. I periodically poke my head out of my office to remind him to take it easy even though he’s feeling a bit better.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” reverberated through my head as we made our way home.

We lived our life from moment to moment in Mexico with our roles reversed for the first time in a year. At one point, he looked up at me from a wheelchair and said, “You have no idea what it’s like not to  be able to do things I could before.” I smiled, and he realized the irony in his statement. No one knew better than me what that was like. He gained instant empathy for what life must have been like for me when my body was attacking itself.

And I learned what it was like to be the helpless, worried spouse. I wanted to cure him and make it all go away. I realized that’s exactly what he’d been saying to me over the past months.

Despite our disrupted plans, we came full circle in our relationship. If we’d been able to go to the sites he wanted, we’d never have experienced this symbiotic reversal, which brought greater understanding of both our relationship and those around us.

United - Cuernavaca

full circle

Here’s to health, which I never really appreciated until it disappeared for a time.

Soon I’ll publish more on what we saw in Mexico.