Mexico celebrates its Independence from Spain on September 16. The year 2010 marked two hundred years of it. The remains of the heroes of that struggle are kept inside the “Monumento a la Independencia”, more commonly known as “El Angel” due to the statue of an angel on top.
Last year, in commemoration of the 200 year anniversary, the remains were transported to the Federal Palace as part of the Independence Exhibit. We visited the Palace to see them. The Palace’s interior is decorated with murals made by the great Diego Rivera.
The Independence Exhibit had a very extensive collection of flags, clothes, guns and other artifacts used during that time. No pictures allowed though. We visited just in time: the next morning, with a military guard, the heroes’ remains were transported back to “El Angel” and the exhibit closed. This day (July 30th) was chosen because it marked the 200yr anniversary of the death of Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, called the Father of the Nation because it was his yell on the midnight of Sept 15, 1810 which called the people to revolt against Spanish rule and ignited the fight.
We visited the National Museum of Anthropology.
That is Tlaloc, god of rain, thunder and storms. The day they brought the statue into the city to be placed at the entrance to the museum, a huge storm inundated several areas of the city and the rain didn’t stop until it was in place. The people of Coatlinchan, from where Tlaloc was removed, say that it hasn’t rained in their town since he left.
The museum houses amazing collections of the Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Mayas,
etc. It also has exhibits on human civilizations throughout the world. This is a reproduction of Lucy, a 3.2 million year old hominid specimen discovered in Ethiopia.
One of the most iconic symbols of Mexico is the Aztec “calendar”. It isn’t really a calendar, it’s proper name is the Sun Stone (Piedra del Sol) and it is the representation of the era we are living in: the fifth sun.
Also housed in this museum are some of the balls used during ritualized ball games, they were made from the salve of rubber trees. This one is about 3,200 years old.
Mexico, or rather the New Spain as it was called in the XVI century, was conquered by Hernan Cortez. This is the penacho that Moctezuma gifted to Cortez when he first arrived.
The museum is so extensive that although we spent several hours in it, we didn’t even get a chance to visit the second floor.
As we were leaving the museum, the “Voladores de Papantla” (Flyers of Papantla) were preparing to begin their show so we sat and watched for a while. This ritual is indigenous to the Papantla region of the state of Veracruz located on the Gulf coast. It was a ritual dedicated to Xipe Totec, god of fertility, and was performed in the hopes that the harvest would be good. By the way, the best vanilla comes from Papantla.
We also visited Coyoacan, one of the 16 Delegaciones. Coyoacan (place of coyotes) is a very festive and quaint place and has awesome street food. The boys enjoyed a performance by a street mime while savoring some “ezquites”: corn kernels with butter, lime juice and chili powder.
From Coyoacan we headed to San Angel, the Delegacion next to it. San Angel is an artistic place and boasts an awesome crafts market, as well as a paintings garden where local artists exhibit their work.
El Paseo de la Reforma is the prettiest and one of the most important avenues in this city. On Sundays, this avenue is closed to automoviles and only opened to bicycles, roller skates, and pedestrians. The city implemented this program to get people to excercise after Mexico was named the fattest country a year ago. Bicycles are lent free of charge at several stations on this avenue. I don’t know if the program is working but it certainly is a lot of fun.
One of my favorite places in this city is “El Desierto de los Leones”, literal translation: Desert of the Lions. At one point mountain lions roamed the area although none are left anymore. As you can see, this is not a desert but a forest.
The name was given by the monks who settled here in the 1600s to live a life of prayer and contemplation: a “desert” of wordly temptations. The monks eventually left because it was too cold for them but they left interesting buildings behind for us to explore.
This park is located in the Delegacion of Cuajimalpa, where we used to live; it’s actually about 5mins from our old house. We had breakfast here twice on this trip, so good is the food; and all of us love hiking here even though it’s a bit cold.
Although we have done lots in our time here, we haven’t but scratched the surface of this city. There are so many museums we wished we had visited, so many restaurants we wish we had eaten at, and so many people we wish we had had more time to spend with. We have had an incredible time here and it is all due to the kindness and warmth of our dear friends. We will miss y’all!