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Journals from Oaxaca

2010-02-10 An artistic day in Mexico City

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Professor Ron Mills meets some caballeros in Alameda Park.

Hola! My name is Alison Pate and I'm a sophomore Art Major at Linfield College, currently studying abroad on the Oaxaca, Mexico program. Our group of 12 left the airport for Dallas Tuesday morning, and then from Dallas we flew to Mexico city. Everyone was nervous to go through customs, but we all made it through easily and were so relieved to finally be off the plane and in Mexico. We're staying 3 days in Mexico City, then heading to Puebla for 2 days, and then it's off to Oaxaca and our host families. Mexico City is enormous- the city lights from the plane windows were just incredible. We flew in at night, and the lights stretched on forever, as if the stars and night sky had fallen to earth. It was breathtaking. Today was our first full day in Mexico City, and I can't believe how many things we've already seen! We started out with a walk through the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is sinking in the corner due to the fact that it was built on original Aztec foundations. "The Aztec's Revenge," as they call it. We then moved on to El Templo Mayor, the ruins of the largest temple of the ancient Aztec Civilization. It was incredible to see the preserved red and blue paint still clinging to the stone in some places, and to imagine what they pyramid would have looked like in its heyday. After a quick walk through the ruins, we went into the museum, to sketch and take notes on the ancient artifacts. The museum was packed with objects- visually overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Amazing masks and jewelry of jade, gorgeous ceramics, stone carving, and intimidating statues kept us occupied for almost two hours. We then moved on to a lovely rooftop terrace where we sipped hot chocolate with cinnamon in the shade and looked out over the Zocalo. After lunch we walked to El Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) to see some amazing murals by some of Mexico's most famous muralists such as Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jorge Gonzalez Camarena. We also traveled to another building to see Diego Rivera's "Sueno de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central", a gorgeous mural incorporating vignettes of Mexican history and important figures into Rivera's personal narrative of a Sunday afternoon in Alameda Park. We also walked through Alameda Park, which was bursting with people selling trinkets, balloons, pirated DVDs, music mixes, fried snack foods, and tarot card readings. Many people go to the park to relax in the shade, read, people watch, and generally participate in the public life. Mexican life is much more vibrant and alive in the streets than in the US. I'll write more about general impressions of Mexico City later, after we leave and head for Puebla. Tomorrow we're visiting the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and I am beyond excited. I did a research paper last term involving the history of Teotihuacan murals, so being able to see the city in person is especially meaningful for me. As a group we're all getting along great, no one has gotten sick or had any trouble with pick-pocketing so far, though we're all being careful just in case. We stick out like a sore thumb in Mexico City, but none of us were really expecting to blend in. Hasta luego! Alison

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