Jamie Sinz in Mexico

Mexico City: Historic District & Other Buildings

September 10, 2012 by Jamie

For some reason, visiting Mexico City was the first time in quite a while where I felt like an architect traveling. I was constantly dragging Nik into this building and that building just to see the buildings. I went to several art museums and wandered down several small streets just because I could see an interior or the corner of a building that I thought might be interesting. I could easily imagine leading a group of students around this city to sketch. So many details are worth studying!! Also, several of the buildings are open to the public. Some are art galleries, but many of the largest and most ornate structures are publicly owned, like the central post office.

Bicycles parked in front of the Ángel de la Independencia on Reforma Avenue

Post Office

Post Office

The courtyards of the Secretary of Public Education are lined with Diego Rivera murals on all three levels. It is the most pleasant public building I have ever been to.

The iconic eagle eating a snake that marked a critical moment in Mexico City’s settlement.

 

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Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia

by Jamie

Entry Fountain

Entry Fountain – Museo Nacional de Antropologia

Per my cousin’s recommendation, I dedicated an entire day to wandering through the Museo Nacional de Antropologia (the National Museum of Anthropology). Luckily, it was only a five minute walk from our hotel so I got there as soon as the museum opened and had the place to myself while I walked through the first few galleries. Admission was free, but I did pay for the English audio tour (75 pesos/$5.50). I never like reading in museums because the lighting is always dark which gives me a headache after about thirty minutes. Unfortunately, the audio tour map was extremely hard to follow and I often found myself searching for the artifacts that went along with the description. By the second or third room, I just pressed numbers for items I knew were in the room even if I didn’t know which item it was. I wish the recording would have played continuously so that I could wander aimlessly with it in the background. But life isn’t perfect all the time!!

Courtyard

Courtyard

Mexico City before the Lake was completely filled in

The Aztec Calendar

On the walk home I finally took a photo of one of the many public sculptures that I adored on Reforma Avenue. The series of twenty-four bronze sculptures are by Jorge Marin. My favorites are of men in various poses with extremely long beaks. I wish I had one of these in my living room.

Equilibrista en Split Monumental by Jorge Marin

Equilibrista en Split Monumental by Jorge Marin

 

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Mexico City: Coyoacan

September 8, 2012 by Jamie

Nik + Jamie

Nik + Jamie

We spent a couple afternoons wandering through the neighborhoods and parks in Coyoacan. The first time we stopped here for lunch at a great park-side restaurant with super HOT salsa, then walked to the main square to have ice cream. During our brief ten minute walk, I really liked the vibe of the neighborhood. The buildings were old and well maintained, but not stuffy. The cats hung out on balconies. The people were friendly. The streets were lined with trees. I liked it so much that I couldn’t wait to come back a couple days later.

Unfortunately on our second trip, the neighborhood didn’t seem as quaint, but it was still pleasant!!

No, we did not go to the Frida Kahlo Museum or the Diego Rivera Museum. We did drive past them, but didn’t have the urge to go in.

Park Side Restaurant

Park Side Restaurant

Juliet

Streets

Stoic Man between lovely old lanterns

Jardin Centenario

Jardin Centenario

Turquoise

Beverage Truck

Beverage Truck

Yo Heart Mexico

Yo Heart Mexico

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Mexico City: Markets

September 7, 2012 by Jamie

Confetti Eggs

Confetti Eggs at Mercado de La Merced

We have been back in San Francisco for over a week now, so I figure it’s about time that I post the rest of my photos!! I went to as many markets as I could find while we were in Mexico City and saw enough stalls full of cheap shoes to satisfy me for the rest of my life. But they were beautiful and made me wish we had more large public markets here.

Market between markets

The market between the Markets

Sky walk

Seeds

Happy Piñatas

Kitchen Utensils – I brought four of the lovely blue spoons home with me

Avocado Pyramid

Peppers….and these are the HOT ones

Garlic

Garlic

Saturday at the Mercado Merced

Squash

Squash

PIneapple

Pineapple

Tortilla Press

Tortilla Press

Onion Man

Onion Man

Flowers

Flower at the Jamaica Market

Taxi

Taxi pick-up directly in front of your stall

Candy

Candy

White Blossoms

White Blossoms

Carts like this one were everywhere, and I couldn’t help but wonder where these flowers were going!!

Roses Jenga

Roses Jenga

 

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Mexico City: Xochimilco

August 24, 2012 by Jamie

trajineras

The “trajineras” floating on the canals of Xochimilco

As we started researching Mexico City a couple weeks ago, Nik’s dad sent us a photo of the Island of Dolls. The man made island, or chinampa, sits in the middle of an extensive 110 mile canal system in Xochimilco, and stuffed animals and dolls are hanging from nearly every tree. The dolls were hung by the owner of the island as a way to prevent evil spirits from entering, and now that he has passed away it is being exploited by his family as a tourist destination. As soon as we saw the photo, we knew we had to go. It looked creepy and incredible.

At one of our first dinners here, we brought up the Island of Dolls to our local friend, F, and Nik’s co-worker, B. F and B both laughed at the fact that we wanted to go, but also agreed that it would be an experience we could never get anywhere else. F gave us a little more background of the island, and told us that the only way to see it was by “trajinera” – canoe. We said, “Okay, even better. When can we go?”

On Saturday morning, we met in the hotel lobby with umbrellas in hand and began our journey. Traffic was outrageous, and the 20 minute drive took a good hour. When we arrived in Xochimilco, H (our driver) walked into the play-land-like amusement area and found an old friend of his that runs a fleet of trajineras. The Island of the Dolls turns out to be a four hour trip from where we were. F wasn’t fond of being on the boats for more than an hour. B was hesitant to commit to four full hours. Nik and I probably would have gone for it if it was just us, but after seeing how cool the boats were, we agreed that four hours might be a little much.

While we loitered six men in traditional celebration attire started dancing around a tall white pole while one played a flute/drum. Intrigued, we stood and watched the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers). After the dance, five of the men climbed the pole and tied themselves to the center with thick yellow ropes. Once the ropes were coiled correctly, the flutist/drummer began playing again, and the other four leaned back and released themselves from the platform. As the top turned, the men flew through the air towards the ground and it was beautiful.

Danza de los Voladores - Dance of the Flyers

Danza de los Voladores – Dance of the Flyers

Afterwards, it started to rain and we made our way to the boats. There were over a hundred boats painted in red, blue and neon colors at the dock lined up in a row. We climbed through four or five to finally settle into the one in front, and a lady dropped off a bucket of beverages including coke, beer, and water. We paid her for the bottles we opened at the end of our journey, and she took the rest back to her cooler to wait for the next customers.

Row row row this boat

Row row row this boat

The trajeneras are propelled and steered by a man standing on the back of the boat holding a long bamboo pole. Each one is a thirty feet long and eight feet wide flat barge with a slanted front and back. The center area is flat and covered with a curved metal roof over a long wooden table and up to twenty small wooden chairs. The sides behind the chairs are protected with a long fabric curtain to block the rain or for privacy.

Boat ready for the next party

Boat ready for the next party

After we left the dock, we were in grid-lock boat traffic, but it didn’t matter. Most trajeneras were filled with large groups that had brought their own picnic lunches, and I was jealous. All we had was a bucket of warm beer…next time I will be packing a lunch with all the fixings!

Party Boat with Mariachi

This party boat was celebrating a birthday and sang with the Mariachi

Potato Chips and Candied Apples

Potato Chips and Candied Apples

F, B, and Nik staying dry

F, B and Nik

In addition to the tourist boats, there were smaller vessels carrying mariachi bands, food vendors and chotchke hawkers. They were all super nice, and if you shook your head and smiled, they smiled back and went on to the next group of visitors. The small islands within the canals were also impressive. Many of the trajenera drivers and vendors lived on the islands, and had built modest homes with beautiful gardens and porches. Some of them even built outhouses for the tourists to use for a fee.

A local's dock

A local’s dock

In the end, we were on the water for two hours, drank a beer each, shared two bags of potato chips with hot sauce, floated behind a boat that hired a mariachi band for half an hour (free concert!!), and it cost us 700 pesos (350/hr) + 50 pesos for food ($55 – split four ways). It rained for most of our outing, and we never did make it to the Island of the Dolls. Luckily someone had recreated a small portion of it near our dock!!

Fake Island of the Dolls

Fake Island of the Dolls

Nik and I have been talking a lot about the livability of Mexico City. If we do ever decide to move here, we are taking our families to Xochimilco when they visit.

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