It’s almost 2019! To celebrate in this final month of the year, I’ll be doing a December series titled #throwbacktravel, looking at where I’ve travelled in 2018. These will be shorter, photo-heavy, ‘travel impressions’ posts, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.
Today, I’m writing about my trip to Mexico City this past February–a pretty big milestone for me. It was my first time in Mexico and my first-ever business trip, and I definitely learned a lot. Post-graduation, I worked for a travel company and was able to travel with a group from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I stayed near Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, and enjoyed the sunshine–welcome in the midst of a horrible, messy New York winter. And of course the first thing I did was find vegan tacos. I attempted to order in Spanish. The waitress switched to English right away. Well… I tried. The tacos were good though!
I saw lots of art, ranging from work from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera…
to contemporary artists like Jorge Satorre… (I talked about this piece in class like, last week, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind right now)
to folk art like these altars, found in underpasses near my hotel.
We had the special privilege of attending an art opening at Cuadra San Cristobál, an estate designed by the legendary Mexican architect Luis Barragán. His distinctive use of colour and clean lines are now considered a staple of Mexican architecture. So much so that an architecture firm in Guadalajara drew up a (joke) Barragán-influenced ‘border wall’ proposal.
And Ai Weiwei was there. I went up to him and introduced myself after about two hours of hesitating. I told him I wrote a paper on Sunflower Seeds, which… does not make me particularly distinctive amongst Art History students. But he was actually really nice. I would say it’s my coolest celebrity encounter, but my mom and I did once meet Bill Nighy at a Pret a Manger. Neck-and-neck, really.
Mexico City isn’t just pink concrete walls–the architecture of the city is really diverse and beautiful. The Palacio de Belles Artes (now an opera house) is incredible. That roof!
And there are unique art features and indigenous-themed murals on buildings around the city, including on the Estadio Olímpico, famous as the site of the 1968 Summer Olympics and now used as a sports stadium for the city university.
I didn’t really know much about Mexico City as an art destination before this trip, but it definitely holds its own amongst the bigger art capitals of the world. The museums in CDMX are designed in really unique ways–the Museo Soumaya has an open-air layout that doesn’t fit works into specific galleries, but rather allows you to walk freely among the displays.
The museum was created by Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim and is free to enter thanks to financing from Bloomberg–an interesting development in a country where Diego Rivera’s explicitly Communist murals are displayed in government buildings. But then again, we live in a world where paintings sell for $90 million. Anything goes.
A real highlight for me was a private evening tour of the National Anthropology Museum, highlighting artefacts from the indigenous cultures of Mexico. I could have happily spent all week exploring the exhibitions.
(I really feel for the guides who can’t get through a day without having to talk about the whole 2012 thing. Granted, it did bring a lot of tourism to Mexico that year.)
And the (long, tiring) week ended with a fresh mint margarita. Good tequila makes all the difference.
This trip was a challenge, I won’t lie. Not everything went to plan, from schedule changes to issues with my allergies. I was travelling with people who were on vacation, but I definitely wasn’t. But travel is about learning–sometimes in ways you don’t expect, and that’s doubly true on a business trip. More business travel could be in my future someday, and I’m excited to see where I’ll go next.
My next #throwbacktravel post will be about my adventures around the Home Counties in April! Expect cute pictures of hedgehogs. 😍