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«Feet, what do I need them for when I have wings to fly?»

I’m sitting at my departure gate in Mexico City’s Benito Juarez airport right now and I have to admit that I’m a little sad to be leaving. The Metrohm family here in Mexico showed me a really good time, and they truly are a family (being with them sometimes felt like having lots of parents—in the best possible way!). It was a perfect start to the World Tour, and I wouldn’t mind spending some more time here.

While I’ve already decided that I’ll come back to Mexico to catch up on everything that I missed this time, I did get to check some of the items off my to-do list. Two of the most important ones were the pyramids of Teotihuacán and the Casa Azul (Spanish for Blue House) and Frida Kahlo’s former home, which has been turned into a museum on her life and art.

Coyoacán: Mexico City’s Haven of Peace

The Casa Azul is only a few blocks from the Metrohm offices in the Coyoacán borough of Mexico City, so Elvira and I started our day at the office and then headed to the museum on foot. Coyoacán is one of the neighborhoods where it’s easy to forget you’re in a 20 million population city. It’s vibrant with cafés, restaurants, and bars, and street vendors and musicians who go about their jobs to the best of their abilities, but you can completely forget about the crowds and the traffic that you’ll find in some other parts of the city.

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The coyote fountain on the main square of Coyoacán. Coyoacán means place of coyotes in Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs

Having been a fan of Frida Kahlo’s paintings for a long time, I definitely didn’t want to leave Mexico without having visited the museum dedicated to her. She may often be considered overrated as an artist, but I’ve always liked the way she deals with rather dark subjects and turns them into colorful paintings, and I actually have a print of one of her self-portraits hanging in my room back in St. Gallen. Whatever you may think of Frida, I definitely recommend that you visit the museum if you’re ever in Mexico City. First of all, she’s the Mexican painter par excellence (Mexicans often refer to her as just «Frida») and second, it’s a beautiful place.

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«Feet, what do I need them for when I have wings to fly?»

The Blue House tells the story of Frida’s life through her personal belongings, from crutches and corsets to books and diaries to clocks stopped at times of great joy or great suffering. Frida Kahlo contracted polio at the age of 6, leaving her right leg thinner and shorter than the left. At age 18, she was involved in a severe bus accident, in which a steel handrail impaled her through the hip. As a consequence of both, she had to deal with—these are her own words—«a less than perfect body», which caused her a lot of pain and made her unable to bear children. This is a recurring subject in many of her paintings and is mirrored in her personal belongings as well: she wore corsets to support her upper body and long skirts to hide her unequal legs. Over her bed hangs a mirror which she used to paint self-portraits while confined to her bed.

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Frida collected ex-voto paintings, something previously unknown to me but very popular in Mexico: They are paintings made to thank a saint for a miracle or answering prayers. The naive style and the often very unholy miracles make these very cute and quite entertaining to look at.

While Frida’s paintings make it obvious that she was struggling very much with her physical shortcomings—and who can blame her—she tried to take things lightly: she painted her medical corsets, making them unique fashion items, and when her foot had to be amputated at age 47, she wrote in her diary her famous quote: «Pies para qué los quiero si tengo alas pa’ volar?»—Feet, what do I need them for when I have wings to fly?

The Birthplace of the Gods

The other thing I looked forward to a lot (but had to wait for till Friday night) was visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacán. Teotihuacán was the largest city in the Western Hemisphere until the 1400s and was built more than 2000 years ago. Building massive stone pyramids like the ones in Teotihuacán without the aid of modern machinery must have been a huge undertaking. This proves just how important these buildings must have been to the founders of the ancient city. But it’s still unknown who they were and who lived here. The Aztecs found the city already abandoned in the 14th century and gave it the name Teotihuacán, which means «birthplace of the gods» in their language, Nahuatl. This name shows how amazed they were at what they had found, and when you see Teotihuacán, you can understand why.

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The Pyramid of the Moon, located at the end of the Avenue of the Dead, the main road of Teotihuacán

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5 Comments

  • Markus Läubli

    Dear Stephanie

    It’s a good point that the limit is set that high. Now all athers have to make sure that they do a good job having you. Have a save flight and go on enjoying the journey!
    Markus

    February 27, 2018 - 3:15 pm Reply
  • C.S.Ramachandran

    Dear Stephanie, nice beginning made on the first leg of your trip. I hope you can indulge in the spirit of adventure even more in the USA and Canada in coming days 🙂

    February 27, 2018 - 6:28 pm Reply
    • Stephanie Kappes

      Hi Chandu, thank you, I‘m sure I will!

      March 1, 2018 - 2:27 am Reply
  • Elvira Linazasoro

    It has been both a delight and honor to have Stephanie come visiting us. Hearing our customers talk about Metrohm so nicely and by giving Stephanie just a quick glance of the vast cultural legacy Mexico has to offer as well, made me realize -once more- how proud I feel for working at Metrohm and for being able to show how big and impressive Mexican culture can be. An open invitation for Stephanie to come back, and of course, all of you Colleagues who want to experience a piece of history, beaches and mountains to have fun, enjoy some time off…and with lots of delicious food (and tequila!). What a journey, what an experience!. Here’s to 75 years more and Viva México!.

    February 27, 2018 - 9:54 pm Reply
    • Stephanie Kappes

      Thank you, Elvira! I’ll definitely take you up on the invitation 🙂 Hope to see you again soon!

      February 28, 2018 - 1:18 am Reply

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