The Angel of Independence — Mexico City’s iconic centennial monument — was just four blocks down the street from our hotel. I was astonished to find that the twenty-three stairs surrounding the base were added long after the statue was built. It seemed that El Ángel had actually risen from the earth some fifteen feet since she was built. She hasn’t. Mexico City has sunk around her.
Never mind. Let’s just say I’m always looking for new ways.
What joy, then, when I found a milagro charm shaped like an arm at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. These little tin charms, shaped like legs or babies or hearts, are used to send prayers upwards in search of cures. (Frida Kahlo made a whole necklace of leg milagros.) I gave a little donation for my little arm and stuck it on a prayer board with a safety pin. Then I sent a general prayer Upwards.
You gotta love these people: no one really knows where they came from, no one really knows what happened to them (even though they built what was the largest city in the Americas at the time), their primary deity was a woman, and they built the coolest pyramids around.
“I was born a bitch,” Frida Kahlo used to say. The folk/surrealist artist has long been revered in Mexico for her art, her brash behavior, her dismal life story, and her legion of lovers. We visited the Casa Azul, where she was born in 1907 and used as home base, in the old and beautiful neighborhood of Coyoacan, now a part of Mexico City.
That was Vicky, our tour guide. To be fair, I’m as much a lover of chouquettes and panettones as the next guy, but we had committed five of our precious remaining expat days, and paid big money for airline tickets, hotels, and the tour itself — and now Vicky is dragging us to a bakery. This was Mexico City, the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere! What happened to Aztek ruins, Mesoamerican pyramids, Diego Rivera murals?