Monday, June 01, 2015

this is how we entertain - Part III

Yes, our wonderful Canadian guests came back for one last weekend with us, after a number of days of adventure in Mexico's smaller towns and wonderful mountains full of micro-climates. And after almost two weeks of Mexican food non-stop, they had but one request - hopefully some non-Mexican fare? LOL Since they arrived Friday night after a long drive, a flat tire in the middle of a deluge, and a super long wait for a cab, we took them to a place around the corner with no fancy food, but definitely a choice between Mexican and foreign dishes. A nice chance to relax, and for them to tell us about their adventures! 

And we agreed that the next day we'd play it by ear. If they got up early, we could go to the pyramids of Teotihuacán. If they got up late, we had back-up plans. If it rained, we had more back-up plans. So we all went to sleep and let Morpheus decide.

Now, not unsurprisingly, we all got up late. And happy. Nothing better than a good night's sleep! And we kept our part of the deal - we winged it, deciding one thing at a time. Which meant going for a late breakfast... but not before a short stroll around the Plaza de la Ciudadela, a square where on weekends mostly senior citizens go to dance or to learn how to dance salsa and the like!

And once we shared with our friends that part of the old historic centre, we were ready for a fully non-Mexican breakfast at one of our favourite places, Panadería Rosetta, with lots of - mostly French-based - delicious options, including amazing bread and super good coffee. And me, I tried something I had never had: oven-baked oatmeal with berries, with frothy almond milk with cinnamon. So. Good. 

With a full and happy stomach, we were ready for the historical part of the day - the ruins of Tlatelolco. I love that place. It really shows the mix Mexico City is, with very clear Aztec ruins, surrounded by both Colonial architecture and the modern city. A real contrast. Plus, for some reason, it's usually overshadowed by both the ruins of Templo Mayor and the ruins of Teotihuacán, so it's normally quiet, calm, and offers itself just to you and a few other strange souls. Quiet, green, ancient. Truly special. BTW, for better pictures of the site, go to the post I mentioned above. These two are just random ones I liked.

But guess what, the ruins have a quite nice museum too, a site devoted to the ancient Aztec city of Tlatelolco. We saw codices (you know, their version of books, like the one below that shows four priests walking, the god Huitzilopochtli speaking, and three men being sacrificed), the emblem of Tlatelolco, some gorgeous flutes (a red one with one end representing a flower, another one with a butterfly antenna at one end), and plenty of items we had never seen or that were carefully placed within context. There were even interactive screens, and I got to know in gruesome detail about hearts and sacrifices too. It might seem a small museum, but I say it's one of those that is exactly the right size. 


And that wasn't all. You see, the square by the ruins is the Plaza de Tlatelolco. It has seen a generally violent history, but the most recent event was the Masacre de Tlatelolco, when the Mexican government unleashed chaos and its forces upon peaceful students and mostly ordinary people demonstrating. It was one dark day, October 2nd 1968. My mother was there, and she luckily escaped by leaving early. So, there's this incredibly detailed memorial, that takes you along from even years before the event until that very night. It's really superbly done, although there are absolutely no English translations. It even goes  a bit beyond that fateful night, showing you Mexico's newspapers unashamedly publishing ridiculous stories about "foreign terrorists" trying to "tarnish" Mexico's upcoming Olympic games. Which went on, as expected. It seems the Olympic Committee was about as worried about human rights back then as it is now. But I digress - this is one great exhibition about one horribly shameful event in Mexico's history where human lives mattered way less than putting on a nice show for the world to celebrate sport.

After that very, very intense experience (the ruins, the museum about Tlatelolco, the massacre memorial), we were ready for lunch. And since we were still in the "no more Mexican food, please" mood, we took our friends to another favourite of ours - Min Sok Chon, for authentic Korean food! The banchan (the side dishes) is amazing and abundant, and the food is unbeatable. And at some point they offered us a second round of banchan! It was good, good, good. And we shared another favourite of ours with our friends! Even better!

By then, one of our friends and my habib were ready for a nap, so we headed to Paseo de la Reforma for a brief look at one of the more iconic monuments of our city, the Angel of Independence. Because, like, I was not letting these friends leave without a look at it!

And then we were ready to drop my habib and a friend off for a nap, while my other friend and me went off in search of sweets to take back to Canada as sweets and, having failed at that (the place was already closed) we brought back home some interesting artisan chocolates for one last simple dinner we had planned with a couple other friends (one of which had celebrated her 40th birthday recently). That was one long, interesting walk, where we talked about opportunities, inequality, poverty... we both had similar worries, but we did have to admit Canada and Mexico faced challenges of rather radically different degree...

Anyhow, once back home, soon our friends showed up for a taste of fig and passion fruit tarts, and the chocolates we had bought (lime and chocolate, mezcal, red berries and chile, and so on...)

And that, I'm afraid, was pretty much the end of it all. Our Canadian friends went to sleep, the rest of us still went to local bar for a mezcal, and next morning I was saying goodbye to our visitors as they took their taxi to the airport, very happy to have shared my city with them, very sad to see them go... 

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