It sure is colorful here
In Mexico City to spend a few days with Max and Barbara Tudor. Gail and Barbara have been friends since high school in Fresno. Max is head honcho at an upscale private school here.
We think Halloween is a big deal in the states: it’s now the second largest holiday, in terms of dollars spent, right after Christmas. But it’s nothing compared to Dia de los muertes, the day of the dead, here in our southern neighbor.
This is a huge event, with roots that go back to Aztec times, when people decorate the graves of the dead, and build offertas, or offerings, with favorite foods of those who have passed on to tempt them to return to life.
There are decorations and celebrations everywhere. If you lost a family member during the year, you build an offerta in your house, and invite all the neighbors in to see it.
We started today at the Museo Dolores Olmedo. Doña Olmedo was, as near as we could tell, a fabulously rich patron of the arts who lived in an incredible house on huge grounds, all of which is now the museum. She was a major patron (and lover? we wondered) of Diego Rivera, and the museum houses a magnificent collection of his work as well as Frida Kahlo’s.
For the season, there is an special offerta on exhibit, effectively portraying much of Mexican history from the Aztec through the conquistadores, the revolution, and up to the present.
After the museum, we drove about an hour to the southeast, to Cuernavaca. Mexico City is at 7500 feet, and we climbed to almost 10,000 to get over the mountains that ring the Mexico City valley. Then we slid downhill to 5000 feet and the lovely city where many people have weekend homes.
We were there to have lunch (at 3:00, which is considered a civilized hour to eat lunch on a Sunday) at La Mañanita, a hotel/restaurant that Max and Barbara have been patronizing for the last 50 years.
Set on large grounds, you enter and then take a chair out on the lawn, surrounded by peacocks and peahens, to slowly, always slowly, enjoy a cocktail and a nibble before your meal. In due time, a waiter brings you the menu, which runs to 12 pages, and you order. The symbol for the peso is the same as the dollar, so it is quite disconcerting to see your dinner listed as $300, although that is really about US$25.
On to dinner. The menu has considerable variety, but since we’re in Mexico I thought I should pass on the French specialties and still to the local stuff.
I started with Sopa de tortilla, tortilla soup. They bring you the bowl with soup and strips of tortilla, then bring around the cheese, the avocado, the sour cream and the fried pork (which is basically chitlins) and you take what you want to make the soup your own. I took it all, and the soup was great.
I ordered the Pato Magret Royal, which turns out to be thin slices of overcooked duck in a port sauce with three lychees on the plate (the round white things in the photo). The lychees don’t relate to the duck in any way, I think they’re just there to confuse me. It worked, I was confused.
So our lunch was pretty good, not great, but a delightful experience. The music started up midway through our meal, the weather was perfect, the service was first rate.
Then we went to the Cathedral de Cuernavaca, which is a stunning 16 or 17th century edifice. My camera battery gave up the ghost, you’ll just have to trust me.
The drive home was pretty quiet since we were all full and tired. Max’s job provides him with a driver, so life is easy on that front; the traffic is horrendous, and on Sunday night everyone is coming home so the trip back was 30 minutes longer than the trip there, and it’s only about 35 miles each way.
Tomorrow, we head off to see the pyramids. My camera battery is charging, and I’m heading to bed to recharge me.