I’ll be heading to Mexico City for my next business journey and as usual it will be a short trip. This means I have to squeeze in what I can to explore the beautiful city of Mexico. This will be my first visit and as a tourist, I do plan to do touristy things like visiting Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace), Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) and the heart of Mexico, el Zocalo. It’s forgivable on my first visit to any new city, don’t you think? So as a tourist and with limited time, I have to prepare for the best. Here’s my list to do – I have yet to experience – in the historical Mexico City.
The Casa Azul or Blue House in Coyoacan was the family home of the famous artist Frida Kahlo. She lived there with her husband Diego Rivera during the last 14 years of her life. Their home, decorated with Mexican arts and crafts, allows visitors a glimpse into the private life of these eccentric artists.
The brightly colored boats that transport passengers through the canals of Xochimilco are called trajineras (pronounced “tra-hee-nair-ahs”). They are flat-bottomed boats similar to gondolas. You can hire one to take you for a ride or join a group. It’s the best way to meet new friends! On your ride around the canals you will come across other trajineras, some selling food, others offering a serenade by mariachis.
One of Mexico’s creepier attractions, La Isla de las Muñecas, or “The Island of the Dolls,” is located in the Xochimilco canals. The legend behind this island is that many years ago its caretaker Don Julian Santana found the body of a girl who drowned in the canal. Shortly afterward he found a doll floating in the canal. He tied it to a tree as a way of showing respect to the drowned girl’s spirit. Apparently he was haunted by the girl and continued to hang old dolls in various states of disrepair on the trees of the small island as a way to appease her spirit. Don Julian died in 2001, but the dolls are still there, and continue to deteriorate, getting even creepier over time.
For a very different and original experience, I wouldn’t mind trying out a lucha libre (wrestling) at Arena Mexico. If you’re not familiar with lucha libre, it’s part soap opera, part acrobatic brawl, epic Mexican wrestling matches. The atmosphere is electric and the fans are seriously loyal to their heroes. It’s very similar to WWE. Part of the attraction of the sport is the hidden identities of the luchadores (Mexican wrestlers). Like superheroes, they wear masks and take on alter-egos; some luchadores never remove their masks in public. The most popular matches are the mÃ¡scara contra mÃ¡scara (mask against mask) where the loser is forced to reveal his identity.
By trying a gastronomic tour I will get to try foods that offer traditional blends with the latest culinary trends. I will also enjoy four types of mole: the yellow spiced mole, the spicy red mole, the sweet black mole and the fruity mole which stains the tablecloths. And of course you know I have to try the best tacos and baguettes with cochinita pibil in the area. The cochinita is a typical dish from southeastern Mexico, and consists of pork meat marinated in axiote sauce, wrapped in banana leafs and cooked underground. It is served with habanero chile sauce and red onion, marinated in vinegar. Tell me that doesn’t sound UH-mazing?!
I may or may not be able to accomplish all. But you know I will try my best to at least accomplish two experiences from this list! In fact, if there’s a recommendation you would love to share that I must add to my list, please feel to share. Tweet me @sparklinglala or comment below.