Kathryn’s proposal to create a WhatsApp pilgrimage group turned out to be a rather good thing. She had mentioned wanting to see the Frida Kahlo Museum when we first started planning this trip, so when someone else in the group suggested going Tuesday morning, it made sense to share a ride. We left the hotel around 9 am. There ended up being five of us — Kathryn and me, another couple, and their daughter — in an Uber XL from the hotel to the museum.
I didn’t know much about Frida Kahlo or her husband Diego Rivera. As we toured the beautiful Casa Azul that houses the museum, I learned they were atheists and communist sympathizers. The house, where she lived nearly all her life, occupies about a quarter of a city block. These communists apparently waited until after they died to turn their property over to the collective.
I didn’t take any pictures from the inside because I was too cheap to buy the ticket that lets you take photos. Charging extra for permission to take photos seems to be a thing in Mexico City. The courtyard was charming. Frida Kahlo suffered from polio as a child and then was in a debilitating motor vehicle accident as a teenager. The museum is naturally filled with her artwork, the books that inspired her, and so on, but I was particularly intrigued by the exhibit of the various braces she wore discretely under the colorful indigenous clothing for which she became quite celebrated.
After the museum, we decided to all stick together and caught another Uber over to the Metropolitan Cathedral. Kathryn and I had been there Sunday morning for what we think was a Mass, but this time we looked around more. A priest was available to hear confessions, and while some from our group got in line for that, Mass started at the main altar. Well, this was a pilgrimage, after all, so we stayed. Weekday Masses are generally rather short anyway.
(By the way, I’ve read discussions on the internet about how a confession can be valid even if the priest and penitent don’t speak the same language. For our group, this is no longer theoretical. That said, the priest apparently spoke just enough English for the non-Spanish-speaking penitent to understand the penance.)
After the cathedral, it was high time for a late lunch. We walked a few blocks to El Cardenal, where we enjoyed some classic Mexican. For me, that was a chicken breast with a Oaxacan mole that was as black as night. Kathryn had a bite, and although she isn’t a fan of mole, she liked this one.
After we’d filled our bellies, we walked a bit further through the pedestrian zones of the old city until we arrived at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. At this point, it was already about 4:30 pm, and although we thought the museum closed at 5 pm, it turned out to be 6 pm, so we bought tickets and went in. At this museum, the person who sold the tickets told us we didn’t need a camera license to take pictures with a phone. We suddenly wondered if that was true at the Frida Kahlo Museum too.
At the Bellas Artes, we saw a number of large murals by Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo. While I have my doubts about the ideologies expressed in these larger-than-life murals, I couldn’t help but appreciate the level of detail that went into them. I found myself questioning every decision, like why a worker’s lunchbox contained a thermal bottle, a stack of crackers, and a tomato. What was the artist telling us? Was he telling us anything?
Yet, as we continued through the exhibits, we were recentered back to our pilgrimage by the religious art and artifacts on display, including manuscripts, vestments, sacred vessels, statues, and paintings. So I’ll just leave this last photo here with no further comment.