Mexico City, Montezuma & Momentos

At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can’ – Frida Kahlo.

So. What I thought was a ‘pin prick’ of food poisoning – wasn’t. After a wonderful day one in Mexico City I woke up today very unwell and ended up having to cancel excellent plans. It’s safe to say I know the pattern of the bathroom tiles very well. I have been told over and over again it’s common for people to get stomach infections / upsets in Mexico in fact it even has it’s own term – Montezuma’s Revenge.

But still, it doesn’t lessen my disappointment at losing a day.

Outside my hotel there is a wonderful busker who plays the violin. I noticed that while sitting on the toilet (for the one thousandth time) he was playing the single most melancholic version of Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley that I had ever heard. For a moment, I was in a Sofia Coppola film until I laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of the image. Ximena kindly arranged an appointment at her homeopathic doctor, so I am armed up the hilt with drops and tablets and hopefully – oh please Montezuma – hopefully no more stomach problems will hit me. It made me realise how lucky I have been in my travels, this is my very first experience with this sort of illness and let me tell you – it’s shit. Literally.

So. Mexico City, day one. I did two things which have been on my bucket list for a long time – visiting Frida Kahlo’s house and going to Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling show). I could write massive blogs about both of these experiences but I will let the pictures do most of the talking because I am still exhausted and in need of sleep.

Frida Kahlo is someone who is very important to me. I adore her. Her and every single messy contradiction in her life. In some ways Frida is not easy to love, in others I can’t understand someone who doesn’t. Her house has become a huge tourist attraction and I must admit I was slightly put off by the sheer numbers of people flowing through it. Frida is a product, but it is vital we don’t forget the person. The artist. Her body and pain, central to her creation and understanding of the world.

The published version of my play Swallow opens with a Kahlo quote and in many ways she was one of my gateways into how female artists discuss the messiness, the darkness, the anger, the contradictions of life. I buy a postcard of a candid picture of her – one I have never seen. A momento of her, of this trip.

And to the exact opposite of Mexican culture – Lucha Libre! I was a big WWF fan in the 90’s and so it brought me much joy to watch a live show. I was astounded at the quality of the wrestling and I was enraptured by every second of it. I reverted to being 12 again and I loved it. There was one particular moment I wanted to mention in which an American wrestler came out with a Trump flag and the other Mexcian wrestlers stole it off him and made him run around the ring for it. The crowd cheered, it seems there weren’t too many Trump supporters in that night… Out of the 6 matches the bad guys won 4 times, apparently the bag guys nearly always win – Geradro said it’s like a metaphor for Mexico. I buy a tshirt as a momento and look forward to rocking in during the Edinburgh festival.

Walking from the veggie taco place to Frida’s house we notice that in a park there are pieces of cloth tied between the trees. On closer inspection the patches of fabric read out crimes / murders / missing people that have gone unsolved. Just blowing in the wind, on a Sunday afternoon, in amongst one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico City, these little mementos to the country’s atrocities.

I think of what Frida would have done and conclude she would have done what she always did – she’d continue.




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