México!

Mexico CItyWow, I am very behind in my blog posts! My goal is to write at least one post per week, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.  Sometimes life gets busy.  Sometimes life has other things in store.  In this case I had to skip a couple of weeks because I’ve been super busy putting together another Art Walk event happening on May 8th and 9th, and also because I had to go to Mexico for a few days.

When I was doing my ‘I Never’ project last year, one of the things I put on my list of things I’d like to do that I’d never done before was to go to Mexico.  Like going to the the top of the Space Needle, it seemed like everybody I knew had been there except me. And I knew I would love it because I love the bright colors of Mexico, the food, the people, the heat, etc.  Well, finally, my dream of going to Mexico came true last week, and it’s kind of funny how it happened.

Mexican Wrestling MasksI have a large extended family in Belgium, and for the past few weeks one of my Belgian cousin’s sons, Victor, has been staying with us in Seattle.  He’s 21 years old, and he’s been doing a really cool work exchange program in Canada for the past six months, and in between jobs he’s been staying with us.  We love having him and it’s going to be so sad to say goodbye to him tomorrow.  Anyway…

Victor frequently Skypes with his family in Belgium, and the other day when he was Skyping with his mom and grandmother (my cousin and my aunt) I popped my head into the screen and said hello.  We chatted for a bit and they told me that my other cousin, who lives in Mexico and who’s an artist (Victor’s uncle), was having an exhibition at a museum in Mexico City.  I told them that my friend would be traveling in Mexico City soon and asked them to please forward me the information about the exhibit so she could check it out.  When I got it, I forwarded it on to my friend, and she wrote back saying, “You should come with me!” and I responded “Okay!”  Isn’t it funny how things happen some times?

Exhibition InfoWhen I asked Todd what he thought of me going to Mexico he said, “You would totally love it, but now is not the best time.”  He’s super busy right now, working all the time, but I told him, “No problem!  Victor will still be here and he can be our manny.  He can take the kids to and from school and to all of their activities.”  And that was that.  I found some decent airfare and booked my tickets.  Hooray, I was finally going to Mexico!!!

I booked my tickets a few days before April 15th, and now it was time to pay taxes, and oh boy did we get hit hard this year.  Todd made more money this year and I made some money too, and so we had to pay a hugely icky amount of money to the government.  And that’s when I started feeling nervous about my trip.  Shouldn’t I be working more instead of globe trotting?  Didn’t I just go to Palm Springs?  Would I be totally imposing myself on my friend and my cousin?  Good grief!  Oh well; there was no turning back now.  Plus I had a free place to stay.

I left bright and early on Wednesday the 22nd, with a nervous feeling in my stomach.  When I landed in Mexico City I got on a bus to go to from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to meet my friend, and then I started to get even more nervous.  I was the only female on the bus and it looked like we were leaving the airport and entering a shanty town.  I don’t speak any Spanish so I thought for sure I was on the wrong bus.  What should I do?  Yipes!

Fortunately the bus finally turned around and headed back towards the airport, where I got off at terminal “dos” and easily met up with my friend.  Thank goodness!  Then we grabbed a cab and made our way to the posh Polanco neighborhood where we were staying at my friend’s friend’s beautiful apartment.  We showered and changed and the three of us headed out for an evening stroll through the city, then we had a very welcomed cerveza and delicious dinner outside.  So lovely!

My nervous stomach quickly disappeared, and for the next four days I soaked up Mexico City.  I must of walked a hundred miles.  I went to six museums, took almost three hundred pictures, ate at outdoor restaurants, enjoyed delicious food (including guacamole with baby grasshoppers and street mangoes with lime juice and chili powder), shopped at the huge markets, and never wore a sweater.  I felt far away and blissfully disconnected from my life in Seattle.  So luxurious!

When I told people I was going to Mexico they were really excited for me, but when I told them I was going to Mexico City their tune usually changed.  “Isn’t that the biggest city in the world?”  “Isn’t it super dangerous there?”  “Are you worried about being kidnapped?”  “Don’t drink the water!” and “Don’t trust the police.”  Well, I didn’t drink the water and I kept away from the police, but otherwise I didn’t worry.  Mexico City is an amazing city, with so much to see and explore. There is art everywhere, amazing architecture, tree lined streets, beautiful parks, bustling neighborhoods, great museums, plus my friend speaks fluent Spanish, and the Mexican people we so so nice and so helpful when we (frequently) got lost.  I was in heaven.

Tamayo MuseumThe highlight of my trip was visiting with my cousin and seeing his exhibit.  When I was a kid my sisters and I used to stay with his family in Belgium for one week in the summer while my parents traveled.  Even way back then I thought he was such a talented artist.  He was always collecting and making cool stuff – often giving me something to take home, like a funny monster made out of his collected objects or an Asterix character he had painted. It’s no surprise to me that he is now such a renowned artist.

These days his work is shown all over the world.  This is the second exhibition of his I’ve seen and for these two exhibits his work has centered mostly around his short films, and then there is a body of work (mostly small paintings and colages) that accompanies the films, that are an extension of the theme of his work. Maybe I’m biased, but I think a lot of people would agree with me that his work is brilliant.   It’s so unique, beautiful and poignant, sometimes even scary, yet always exquisitely presented.  I especially love his films featuring kids – those are the most touching to me. You can check out his films at his website: francisalys.com. And I found this great article about him from Vogue magazine.

I got back from Mexico exactly a week ago, and while it’s always great coming home, I’m still thinking a lot about my trip.  It seems like it was fate that I should go, and traveling to another culture always makes you look at your life a little differently I think.  Not only am I thinking about Mexico City, but I’m thinking about my cousin and his art.  I think I’m a little envious of artists like him, because they seem to know themselves so well, and are so passionate and dedicated to the work they bring to the world.  I would love to feel that way about my work.   But for now I am just so happy and grateful that I had my adventure in Mexico City, and that I got to come home to my wonderful family and lifestyle.

Now I’m going to try and pick ten of my most favorite pictures from my trip.  It’s not going to be easy.

Okay, here they are:

I can’t wait to go back some day!

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