With over a week spent in this big city, I thought I’d break it down in a somewhat different manner (and not completely therefore in chronological order people).
Our arrival wasn’t anything too exciting, notable mainly for our early decision to get a taxi from the Autobus Terminal Norte rather than attempt to brave the metro system with packs laden on both our front and back.
It may have sounded a bit soft (at least to our own ears), however after our first metro experiences in the coming days, the decision was well and truly vindicated.
120 pesos was all it took to get us into the Centro Historico, and after walking a few final blocks, we were quietly checking into Hostal Amigo, our home for at least 3 nights (we’d only booked for a few as the reviews we’d read were polarising. It was either loved or loathed).
Perhaps Mexico’s most famous couple (certainly in the artistic world, but possibly from any walk of life), Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo remain to this day, Mexican celebrities and both their works and former homes are strong tourist drawcards (this despite both being dead for well over 50 years & Frida never achieving fame during her actual lifetime).
Their relationship has often read like a train wreck, ultimately living in separate houses amidst suspicions of an affair with infamous former Soviet big-wig Leon Trotsky, still it is somewhat touching that despite it all (and I’m paraphrasing a Diego Rivera quote I read in one of Mexico City’s museums) that in the end he said “One of my biggest regrets was realising too late that she was the love of my life.”
Frida’s former home, Casa Azul (the Blue House) now stands as a permanent museum, and unwilling to pay the additional fee for a photography pass (poor form I suppose), the few interior images I did acquire, were all on the sly.
Inside the house proper, it was part art exhibition, part period museum, with the interior decorated not with replicas necessarily, but predominantly their original furnishings (much of which was stunning).
Conveniently, both for their dalliances and also our legs, just a few streets away sits the former home of Trotsky, the very same in which he was bludgeoned to death with an ice pick by Soviet agents in 1940.
Unfortunately this place, another where photos aren’t permitted without a permit, was pretty disappointing in comparison, and other than the fact we can say we’ve been there, I didn’t really think it was worth the entry fee…
Early in the week we’d already made a solid commitment for our Friday evening.
To what? Well we were off to see the Azul Pantera (The Blue Panther, a Mexican wrestler), or more specifically, the Lucha Libre, the Mexican wrestling!
Our hostel ran tours, but after a little investigation, we quickly discovered how easily we could get there ourselves (either on foot or by the Metro), so we decided to do things our own way, taking Mark, our new Irish friend along for the ride.
Unsure of how busy this extravaganza gets, we set off early so as to ensure we’d get tickets, and once sorted, passed the time with a few ice cold cervezas and fun chatter.
Eventually the crowd began to build, the start of proceedings was close, so we crossed the road, ready to enter Arena Mexico.
Then a tragedy!
Signage on the wall stated all cameras & video cameras must be handed over before entering (which we’d paid little heed).
A quick pat down revealed my camera in my pocket, it was taken from me (despite the signs, I was seriously shocked, as no phones were confiscated), so as a result I have no images from within the arena itself!
Despair not however, as I have managed to procure a couple of images from the night, taken by, you guessed it, a camera phone, of which there were hundreds in constant use throughout the entire event!
Not a single security guard within the complex itself batted an eyelid! Go figure…
We ordered ourselves a round of beers (they treat you well here with service at your seats) then almost fell over in shock (lucky we were already sitting down) when they were tallied up at $60.00 pesos each!
We coughed up the necessary pesos, proceeded to grizzle and groan for a bit until Sarah, out of the corner of her eye, noticed that the beers were actually 2 bottles to a cup!
That didn’t seem so bad…
Now what followed was so ridiculous, it was brilliant.
The Lucha Libre wrestling has a reputation for being even more over the top than it’s equivalent north of the border and it certainly did not disappoint.
With the whole show going on for over 3 hours as well, we certainly couldn’t argue that we didn’t get our moneys worth (in fact to us, it was possibly an hour too long)!
When we consider that one of the stars of the show (although Marks star for the night was a female Canadian wrestler known as Dark Angel), the legendary Azul Pantera is well into his 50’s, it was just another parallel with its equivalent competition in the United States!
The late finale to the proceedings (we didn’t depart the arena until close to midnight) meant the metro wasn’t an option, so a late night walk through what was one of the worse (at least in appearance) areas of the city we’d visited was what ensued.
Ultimately there was little of concern, although we all found our eyes darting in every direction at one point when 4 youths disappeared off the street, seemingly to positions that made them look as though we were surrounded…
We obviously survived (not only because I’ve written this since) as by the following afternoon we found ourselves amidst a sea of blue, strolling towards Estadio Azul for our first taste of Mexican football.
Never having really followed the game here, we couldn’t help but jump in and support the home side.
We didn’t fully understand at the time, but the game was also used as an opportunity to farewell club and former Mexican national footballer Javier Guzman who’d passed away only the week before.
Settling down with our beers (again, there was service at our seats), it wasn’t long before there was action aplenty as inside the first ten minutes there was a penalty to the home side, and a 1-0 lead was established.
It was also about then that the rains came… and continued for the remaining 80 minutes of the match!
Occasionally the rains slackened, but the majority of the games remaining minutes saw us huddled at the very back of the stand, trying to both find shelter from the rains (we didn’t bring rain jackets or even ponchos) and huddle together for warmth.
On about half an hour, the away fans, surrounded by riot police and confined to a small bay on the upper most tier found something to cheer about with a well taken equaliser, which only further darkened the mood of the home fans (hey, that’s us now as well).
But despite the cold and despite the wet, we were able to smile about something, as with 20 minutes to go, a scrambled winner was scored and our boys from Cruz Azul took home all 3 points on a fairly miserable day.
By this time we were both soaked, and Sarah was freezing.
So much so, that even a hot shower back at the hostel wasn’t enough to get some warmth back in her bones!
* Our walk to the wrestling cost us nothing and even adding a couple of beers, the $173.00 pesos we each paid was far cheaper than the $350.00 pesos per person price tag offered by our hostel.
* The prices (appear to) vary from event to event, so the cheapest method would be to by the cheapest ticket option in ring 8 or 9 then move closer to the front on entry (this may not work if the crowd is larger than we experienced).
* Journeys to The Blue House and the football all involved the metro at a cost of $5.00 pesos each one way.