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A Day in Mexico City

by

Professor Arnie Greenberg

I hadn’t been back in 45 years. What I remembered was no longer the same. The old city had been dug up near the Zocolo and the beautiful modern museums made Mexico one of the most art oriented cities I had seen. From modern art to anthropology, from quaint neighborhoods to broad boulevards, Mexico City had entered the modern age, For me it was new as memory fades. What I carried away this winter was surely to stay with me wherever I went.

There were broad boulevards, double-decker buses, a region spilling over with upscale residences, modern hotels, a new subway and parks, churches, craft sales and tourists on every route we took. This city of well over twenty-four million inhabitants can hold itself up to most of Europe and Asia. It is a cultural magnet and I will certainly go back.

I could easily fill pages with descriptions of our meals (at extremely low prices), things to see and do. I can describe Aztec dancers or craft sellers on the main square. There is something for every mood, for every interest and for every budget. And a word about safety might surprise you. Yes, there are problems near the US border and isolated crime in many cities, but in the seven weeks we spent in Mexico this year we never came across anything that made us in the least bit nervous or frightened. True, we were cautious about where we walked late at night or what we should be wary of. But it was the perfect holiday with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and people who were proud to show us their beautiful city.

Part of a fresco Showing Trotsky
Part of a fresco Showing
Trotsky

 

One particular day we decided to visit the unearthed ancient city and the Rivera frescoes at the Zocolo. or main-square. Much of what we saw were works done by Diego Rivera which taught the viewer the troubled politics of the world of political turmoil when Communism was in a state of flux.

Most people know that Leon Trotsky lived in Mexico City while he was hunted down by Stalin in a competition for the reins of the Post Lenin Communist era. We know that Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo gave shelter to Trotsky and his wife at Frida’s family mini estate. Trotsky was in Mexico City for some time and finally left the safety of Kahlo’s home after a falling out with her and Rivera.

Most people know that Leon Trotsky lived in Mexico City while he was hunted down by Stalin in a competition for the reins of the Post Lenin Communist era. We know that Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo gave shelter to Trotsky and his wife at Frida’s family mini estate. Trotsky was in Mexico City for some time and finally left the safety of Kahlo’s home after a falling out with her and Rivera.

He moved into his own home within walking distance of Freda’s sanctuary.

Where Leon Trotsky was actually murdered
Where Leon Trotsky was actually murdered

But the Stalin guided hunters set out to destroy him and at one point a group attacked the Trotsky family him and riddled the house with bullets. Trotsky and his family were left untouched but it was decided to build a higher wall around the property and erect guard houses at the entrances. This protection didn’t last long.

Someone known to Trotsky arrived to visit. The guards recognized him, waved and opened the gate.

The man entered Trotsky’s office and while they were going over some papers, the visitor hit Trotsky on the head with an ice axe.

He died a short time afterwards. The Stalinists had removed the only man who might have returned to head up the government of Russia.

His final home is open to the public with countless photographs showing his life in Mexico.

Statue of Trotsky on the property - click to enlarge
Statue of Trotsky on the property

Trotsky and his wife are buried in the garden of that house. I stood about 3 feet from the spot where Trotsky was murdered. I stood at the foot of his grave. My mind raced back to the McCarthy Years and the plight of this man whose life ended so violently.\

The Museo Casa De Leon Trotsky is open from 10 AM to 5 PM with an admission of $15 pesos

Tel for information 5658-8732

Freda died in 1954. She had been married to Diego Rivera in 1929, later divorced and remarried. He was a large man with bulging eyes. The couple was referred to as the Elephant and the Dove. She was born in 1907. She had a tragic accident with a bus and streetcar. A metal rod made a debilitating abdominal wound that fractured two vertebrae. She spent a life of suffering, often wearing special apparatus to allow her to sit up, paint and have some relief from the pain.

Diego had spent time studying in France and Italy before he finally returned to Mexico. He had befriended some of the great artists in Paris at that time, including Modigliani. At that time he embraced many of the ideas of Braque, Picasso and Cezanne.

Museo Mural Diego Rivera offers a complete history in one mural Call 5512 0754

Both painters are revered by Mexicans today for their contribution to art. They are today’s icons. It was conceived in a dream and can be seen a as part of Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Entrance $15 pesos 

Museo Frida Kahlo is at 150, San Pablo Tepetiapa   Tel: 5617-4310   Admission #55 pesos.

As an ex-teacher of History I had a memorable look at the actual places where these people of history actually lived, worked and died. A fast moving taxi returned us to our residence. It seemed hike a very long taxi ride for an amazing $4.00 US.

Suggested Reading:

Barbara Kingsolver The Lacuna, Harper Collins, USA $26.99

This book goes into great description of life among the people surrounding Trotsky while he was in Mexico. It is an excellent read and a wonderful account of the events before and after Trotsky’s death.

The book is available at most major booksellers’.

Frida Kahlo 
Frida Kahlo 

I was fortunate to be present at a public lecture Barbara Kingsolver delivered this winter in San Miguel. A huge audience heard this talented women talk of her work and her philosophy. The Lacuna was her first book after nine years of research.

Reading any of her books is a treat.

#   #   #

You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at

Email:  Ultours1@gmail.com

Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to:  www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at ultours1@gmail.com.

(More about the writer.)

 
 

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