Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Malinalco, Metepec and Cuidad de Mexico

I took the bus down from San Miguel to Mexico City to meet the group with Los Amigos del Arte Populare, www.ladap.org This group is all about Mexican folkart and the wonderful thing about the people in the group is their knowledge and enthusiasm. I've been involved for about 8-10 years in the group but have been a folkart collector for almost 30 years. So, the "adventure" began even before I "hooked up" with the group when the taxi driver could NOT get me anywhere near the hotel I was staying in because of "something going on" on the Reforma. So, he stopped on the side of the road and said "the hotel was probably a few blocks". In my heart I knew better but, whatcha going to do when the cab stops, takes out your giant suitcase and all the streets are blocked off by the police? I got out and started pulling my suitcase through Alameda Park! AND I came upon a parade as seen above - the Gay Pride Parade which was four blocks across and according to some bystanders, had been going on for almost three hours!
I kept saying to myself, "it's all about the journey.........." and sat on a wall til it was over - about 45 minutes later. And then, I started down Independencia for about 10 blocks til I got to the hotel. The beginning "adventure" of this trip...........
On Sunday we left Mexico City - destinations, Tenancingo to see exquisite rebozos, Malinalco to see the murals in the convent and the Aztec ruins called the "Machu Pichu of Mexico" and then to Chalma to the second most religious site for pilgrimages in Mexico. A LONG LONG day.
Upon arriving in Tenancingo, we headed straight to the market and found the area that sold the beautiful rebozos that are still done on backstrap looms. The women are known for the intricate fringe that they do on these rebozos. Marta Turok who is an expert on all that is Mexican folkart, literally, was with us and told how this is a dying art and the process. I loved this woman sitting so prim and proper with all of her rebozos spread in front of her for sale.........yes, I bought one.
We next headed to Malinalco. Although I've never been to Shangra-La, I do believe it couldn't be any more beautiful then this hidden mountain village. We entered on a ridged mountaineous road (the first ridged road I have seen in Mexico) and it was spectacular to see the village before us. We arrived at the convent where the walls and ceilings were covered with murals that were uncovered under 23 coats of whitewash and restored in black and white. Magnificent - my photo does NOT do it justice. The little village was quaint and many of the group hiked UP 400 steps to the top of the ruins (NOT me) to see the views of the valley.
Chalma was different from any place I have ever been in Mexico. It is a 600 year old shrine in a cave that the indigenous people worshipped at long before the Spaniards were here. You walk down, down, down through a market that has grown up around the shrine area to a church, a raging river and a cave. The people believe that if you wear a crown of flowers (available to buy) and enter the church and pray for a miracle, it will come true. Many, many, many people were doing just that that day. And, as they leave they have cars and buses decorated with flowers to show they have made the pilgrimage. I had no need for a miracle......that I could think of..........but later that night driving back to Mexico City, the bus defroster did not work, we were in a driving rainstorm in the mountains, the bus driver could hardly see and I do believe it is a miracle we're all alive today!
On Tuesday we traveled to Metepec- a place I've wanted to go for 30 years to see the process of making the Trees of Life. This is the village where two Great Masters live, or more, and I was so excited that it was market day and we were going to meet two masters. Well, it didn't work out that way BUT I did meet Sr. Miguel Angel Gonzalez who is shown below. His trees of life are different in that he uses more subdued colors in ochre tones. In this picture he is standing next to one of many trees as tall or taller then he is. I was honored to meet him.
After we talked and shopped he went upstairs and came down to show some of us that he had the same sweater on in the Great Masters book as he had on that day. He showed it to us with great pride and modesty. A special moment!
On Tuesday we visited the one year old Museo de Arte Popular in a converted fire station. It was spectacular. Approximately 1,000 pieces of folkart are on display out of their 2,500 piece collection. The historic and important thing about this museum is that folkart up til about 1970 was underappreciated by the people of Mexico and now it is truly being honored. A great thing to see. In addition, this part of Mexico City was one of the areas devastated by the 1985 earthquake and it is so good to see it revitalized. I was amazed at how much of the work displayed I have samples of..............a delightful experience. It took 4 years and US $8 million to restore and build the museum under the auspices of Conaculta. A huge committment for Mexico.
This wonderful devil greets you as you go in to see the exhibits. I laughed because I have a devil by this artesan in my dining room. He is not this tall but he is this elaborate. I like to tell people that I have a man devil in my dining room with his tongue hanging out...............they think I'm crazy, I'm sure!


Anonymous said...

Hi Babs,
Thanks for mentioning the Amigos. You write well and make it interesting. Sorry you couldn't make the whole trip. I wish that you would write up the "munecas of Xochimilco" + photos and add it to our articles on ladap website.

Feliz verano, Tom P.

Babs said...

Thanks Tom - I WILL write about the
"munecas of Xochimilco" for LADAP with photos.