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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Diego Rivera. In His Time, He Got the Attention.

A week ago last Wednesday we took a bumpy bicycle taxi ride to the National Palace where Diego's Rivera's detailed frescos cover the second floor walls. They show Mexico's troubled history from the Olmec (1400-400 BCE), the Maya, the Teotihuacan, and the Toltec civilizations, the Aztec Empire (1325-1521 CE), then the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519 and forward through the chaotic Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1920 when Mexicans fought to regain land from wealthy Spanish landowners and to determine their future. 

Both Rivera and Frida Kahlo were firm socialists and close friends with Soviet politician and Marxist Leon Trotsky. Rivera was the noted one in his day, although he encouraged Kahlo and told her that she was talented. Now she is the famous one.

Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo

Rivera painted these murals on the walls of the National Palace between 1929 and 1935. Bob and I couldn't wrap our heads around all the violence and misery that must be assumed or understood by Mexicans today. Perhaps this history makes them strong. By contrast, Canadians' background is peaceful. The murals are carefully looked after.

The indigenous peoples -- from 1400 BCE to1521CE  
as portrayed in Rivera's frescos.

Working with corn lower left. Middle ground shows how
the people filled in the lake around the island where Mexico
was built in order to grow crops. Today there is no lake. You can
see the volcano, Popocatepetl in the background. It is active today. 

Indigenous people making paper.
Aztec women painting with dye.

Making dye.
Panning for gold
Drying fish.
Dying cloth, cooking, hewing wood, harvesting cotton and in the background the lake and volcano.
Indigenous daily life: reading, making music, talking, eating.
One of Mexico's many volcanoes in the background.
Gouging a rubber tree to collect sap.
The indigenous had tattoos too.

Indigenous ceremony.

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés, 1485-1547, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who caused the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521 and brought large parts of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile. Cortés began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. He controlled vast territories of land and allied some indigenous people against each other to win power. He is not portrayed well by Rivera.

Cortez on right is being paid money.
Cortez on the right. He owned 1000s of acres of land.
Spaniards and indigenous slaves.

Indigenous slaves working. Ninety percent of the slaves died
mostly from disease, overwork and maltreatment.
Tying a slave -- in the foreground.
Spaniards and indigenous fighting for territory.

People charged and hanged.

Always debauchery around.

During the Mexican Revolution. Kahlo on left.

Signs of strike and strife.

Every time we visit Latin America we are struck by the kindness and warmth of the people. At the end of a concert one evening a few weeks ago, I was struggling to get my arm into my sleeve jacket when I was helped. I thanked Bob. He said, "Thank the woman behind you." 

I wondered if we would do the same here. So after the "Judas Kiss" in Toronto last  week a woman in front of me was struggling to get her arm in her sleeve and I helped her. What goes around comes around as they say.

I will post again as my thoughts change. The world is not as scary as place as we and the press make it out to be. My final thoughts today are that being kind to others and living a simple life will make us feel happier and safer. 

Be well. More to follow.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Last Day in Mexico and an Ungainly Welcome Home

Hi Everyone from the Stormy Hills of Caledon!

We arrived home on a red eye from Mexico City early Thursday morning and had about seven hours of electricty before trees started to topple onto hydro lines and you know what happens after that. It was a severe ice storm and some people in our area are still without power. Ours came back on late Saturday night. Because we live in the country with a well and electric pump to bring water into the house, we didn't have running water. The wood stove gave enough heat. Camping lights and headlights worked too. We were at sixes and sevens though having just arrived home.

I have some amazing shots of Diego Rivera's murals to share with you as soon as our home is in order. Mexico is full of surprises and wonderful people who struggle just as we do. However, they have more to struggle about than we do. That was a lesson for me yet again. We have so much and yet sometimes we expect more than life can give us.

See you again very soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scouting the City


       A soft spot to sit.

            Elegant feet.

  Sweepers always on view. No garbage.

   Our electric taxi. 6.1 km./kilowatt hour 

Cuidad Mexico CD is a huge company with taxis, tour buses and bicycles throughout the city for rent.

  A swinging basket for your baby.

       In Oaxaca hot chocolate was prepared by beating chocolate 
       into hot milk. Here you mix it yourself.

      Enormous sculpture.

     Lots of fruit for sale.

  Sidewalk sweepers always on the move.

On the door of a women's washroom.

           On the men's.

Frida Kahlo. Her Passion. Her Pain.

  Entrance to La Casa Azul, The Blue House, the birth and death place of Frida Kahlo.

    We waited two hours in line to get in. Bob is centre front wearing a white cap.

The family we talked with in line for two hours. He is a political cartoonist. They are
from the state of Sinaloa, noted for its violence. They said you're careful to associate with the right people.

     Kahlo and Rivera lived here for around 25 years.

         In the courtyard.

          Kahlo's braces.

Bob and I were very moved by the exhibition of her clothes and various braces, only discovered in a room next to the upstairs bathroom in 2004, 50 years after she had died. We've seen exhibitions of her paintings, seen the movie with Selma Hayek and read her life story. But in her home we saw a documentary of interviews with her biographer, a former art classmate and an orthopedic surgeon who described her constant pain as 10/10.

But despite her pain she lived a life of intense passion, passion for her art, for her husband Diego Rivera, and for her many lovers both male and female and of course enormous passion for life. Her pain came not from polio she contracted at age six leaving her right leg shorter and thinner than the left -- but from a horrible bus and trolley car accident when she was 18. 

Her injuries were incredible: a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis (in three places), eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus. She had three miscarriages and between 22 and 35 operations.

    She wore special shoes.

 Kahlo is wearing the dress in the middle in the photo below.

     As a young teenager.


         Her right shoe.

              Her lipstick.

  She camouflaged her deformities.

        Kahlo's easel.

         Her bed. We didn't see a double bed.

Nighttime in the city.

   Almost a full moon just after the spring equinox.

              Las Bellas Artes.

      Making Creme Brulé

    Entering our building last night.

         More to follow ;)