Not rushing to leave our 4 star hotel room at Hotel Punto MX, we were up late and had a leisurely buffet breakfast.
Our plan was to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum the “Casa Azul”. We decided to go via the Metro. A few blocks walk from the hotel, we descended stairs into an underground world of bookshops. It was quite a long walk to the line we wanted and bookshops proliferated along the entire route. Pity everything was in Spanish.
Some years ago I had read a book about Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera. This was during the period the Trotskys stayed with them and Leon Trotsky’s assassination. I thought she was a fascinating woman and was excited by the opportunity to learn more about her life.
Once at Coyocan, the closest stop, we asked for directions to the museum. Everyone said it was far, so we took a taxi. Once there, the queue was seriously long. Around two sides of the building. I anticipated it would take us at least an hour and a half of waiting. After a few minutes a lady in uniform came up and asked our ages. Once we had told her we were 70 year olds, she took us right to the very front of the queue. We got in on senior tickets for 25 pesos each. About £1 or NZ$2.
Purchasing audio guides, made the tour of the house much more interesting. It was Frida’s childhood home. Built by her German father, who was a photographer. Her mother was a Mexican Indian.
Frida was very unlucky. At the age of 6 she contracted polio. This left her with one shortened leg and a withered foot. When she was 18 she was returning home on a bus which was hit by a truck. She was severely injured in the back and abdomen. These injuries prevented her from having children. This had a massive influence on her life and her paintings often showed babies or foetuses. To stand Frida had to wear strong metal corsets to support her spine. She undertook 30 operations, but eventually was confined to a wheelchair.
These setbacks did nothing to curb Frida’s spirit. She met and married the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. His work featured on large murals around Mexico City. He was a larger than life personality, but also a womaniser. Frida’s mother was horrified at her marriage, asking how she could possibly marry such a fat, old, ugly man.
The marriage was tempestuous and they divorced after Diego had an affair with Frida’s sister. However, they got back together and stayed together until Frida’s death, although both had affairs.
Frida’s father’s business ventures went wrong and he would have lost the house. Diego stepped in and bought the house, giving it to Frida. They painted the walls a deep blue colour, as it was a colour favoured by the indigenous people.
Frida and Diego were great hosts and always had a house full of guests. They mixed with a very bohemian society and were socialist in their political leaning. Frida loved interesting debate.
For two years they sheltered Leon Trotsky and his wife. The Trotskys had escaped from Stalinist Russia. Frida apparently had an affair with Trotsky during this time. Trotsky and his wife moved two blocks down the road to their own house. Here two attempts were made to assassinate Trotsky, the second being successful.
Casa Azul is full of Frida’s paintings and some of Diego’s. The rooms remain furnished as they had been during their lives here. The walled garden is beautifully peaceful with water features and a mini pyramid which Diego built.
The final exhibit was a display of Frida’s clothes. The metal corsets were quite amazing and must have been torturous to wear. Frida wore long skirts to hide her legs and very elaborate designs on top to focus away from them.
Once we left the museum we decided we would head back to Ranch Viejo and Poki. This time we walked back to the metro station, stopping a stall to buy a pot of sliced mango for our lunch.
The journey back to the northern bus station on the Metro was very straightforward. Sarah had advised us where to go for our bus tickets, so that was easy too. There was a bus waiting and we were on our way back in no time. Not so easy was knowing where to get off. I was watching our progress on the iOverlander map so could see when we were getting close to the camp. We managed to get off in the right spot.
We thought Tim, Sarah and the kids had gone on, so we’re surprised to find them still at Rancho Viejo. Tim was changing the oil in the truck and Sarah catching up with the kids school work. They had decided they would wait for us.
We dropped off our things and the walked back to the village looking for some provisions. It was quite late and most shops were closed, but we managed to find some basics, like bread and cornflakes.
Back at Poki we were exhausted and after dinner, soon in bed.