Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Frida Kahlo Museum
Sunday, February 25 2024

location: suite 301, Hotel Parque Mexico Boutique, La Condesa, Mexico City

I woke up early again and again had leftover Aztec soup, though this time it didn't really agree with me and I ended up having digestive discomfort for much of the rest of the day. [REDACTED]
The first thing we did this morning after leaving the hotel was to go to a nearby churrería (Churrería El Moro Condesa) for a kind of breakfast. A churrería sells mostly just one product, churros, a kind of donut made by extruding a thin coil of dough into boiling oil and then cutting the resulting material into foot-long segments that are dipped in granulated sugar and sweet spices. The churrería also sells coffee and hot chocolate, and it's customary to dip the churros in hot chocolate while eating it. We sat out in front and consumed the churros in the traditional manner, though I only dipped mine in hot chocolate once, as I'm not as excited about chocolate as most people are. Someone else enjoying churros around the corner had a dog that would bark like a maniac at other dogs walking through coming to and leaving the nearby dog parks.
I was still drinking my churrería coffee from a paper cup when we walked over to the dog park to watch the dogs, which had become an important part of our morning ritual in Mexico City.
This morning we'd both put apps on our phones and signed up to use the bicycles in Mexico City's extensive Ecobici network, as that was how we intended to get to the Frida Kahlo museum (Casa Azul) this afternoon. Taking advantage of the extensive community WiFi provided in Mexico City (usually concentrated in its parks), we were able to each unlock bikes from a Ecobici bike rack in Parque Mexico and then set off for Casa Azul. Initially, as I usually am in foreign countries, I was nervous about riding a bike in Mexico City (particularly since it would be without helmets). I'd heard that drivers in Mexico City are sociopathic maniacs. But the truth of the matter is that Mexico City has a great network of bike paths, and the bikes themselves are a pleasure to ride. They're not electric, but the city tends to be flat (it occupies a dry lakebed), and what few hills that exist are easily handled by the bikes' amazing (and previously unknown) continuously-variable transmission. Instead of a chain hopping around from one sprocket to another and refusing to do anything when you aren't pedalling, these bikes have a much more user-friendly (and presumably rugged) mechanism. It behaves as though there are an infinite number of gears that are reachable by turning the shifter one way for bigger gear ratios and the other way for smaller ones. Such shifting can be done while standing still, which is great when you've reached a traffic light at the top of a hill and didn't remember to downshift before stopping. Another thing that was great about biking in Mexico City (at least on the route we were on, which involved a lot of biking southwestward on Avenue Insurgentes Sur) was that the traffic lights seemed to be timed in a way that allowed us to usually arrive at green lights when traveling at a modest pace (which tended to be slow, perhaps 12 miles per hour). After leaving Avenue Insurgentes Sur, we pedalled through sleepy neighborhoods where it was usually possible to run red lights. Interestingly, the highway culture in Mexico City seems to exempt both bicycles and motorcycles from having to obey traffic signals, and there doesn't seem to be any prohibition against jaywalking either.
As we approached the end of our ride, I could hear off in the distance the spine-tingling wailed sales pitch of a woman's voice broadcast from a source I'd seen back in Condesa: a pickup truck with loudspeakers mounted to its roof driving slowly around the neighborhood. (The truck usually contains two men, so the voice, which always sounds the same, comes from a recording.) I'd never been able to quite catch what it was she was trying to buy or sell, but it's just another weird quirk of Mexico City.
By the time we arrived at our destination in the neighborhood of Coyoc´n, I'd nearly finished drinking the cup of coffee from the churrería. We clinked our bikes into the Ecobici bike rack (which, for whatever reason, are cryptically branded "HSBC") and went to Café Vegetal, the vegan café Gretchen had selected for our lunch. We arrived a little before noon, so the lunch cook wasn't there yet. So we snacked on a cookie and a chocolate donut while we waited (they were both gluten-free and not very good). After we got on the café's WiFi network, Gretchen got a notice saying our bikes had not yet been returned and now we were being charged for exceeding the 45 minute limit for having them checked out. So she ran back to where we'd returned the bikes and found that they needed to be slammed extra hard into the bike rack to make a red light turn green. It's the sort of not-obvious thing that really needs to be made clear, perhaps with a warning beeper on the rack itself (since there was no WiFi to check their status while actually at that bike rack). Once the cook arrived and made me my sandwich, I found it to be about the messiest thing I've tried to eat in awhile. It was the kind of thing best cut up with a knife and fork. It was okay, but a more tomatoey than I would've preferred. As for Gretchen, it was the best meal she'd had in Mexico City thus far. Unlike all the other places we'd eaten, the service was up to American standards. After we'd figured out the situation with our bikes, we could use the WiFi to play the day's New York Times Spelling Bee semi-collaboratively the way we've been doing.
Because there is a lot of demand to see the Frida Kahlo Museum, Gretchen had had to make us reservations, which were for 2:45 pm. Even after lunch, it was too early for our appointment, so Gretchen left me at a nearby park while she strolled around the neighborhood (since I don't really like doing that, especially if I'm about to be strolling around a museum. Unfortunately, there was no free WiFi at the park, so I mostly just watched the soccer moms coming by to pick up their sons while posting trollish comments on Facebook, which can be done while offline. One such comment was to a Hagee Ministries post labeled "Vote the Bible," pointing out that nowhere is voting mentioned in the Bible and is thus an unbiblical activity.
Eventually Gretchen returned and we joined the line going into the Frida Kahlo museum. The rooms were small, so it was good the number allowed in was small. We got a chance to see lots old photographs, original paintings, and numerous artifacts, including the two beds Frida slept in: one with a mirror overhead for helping with her self-portraits in the day, and the other had butterflies to hang in stillness over her while she slept at night. There were also pieces of medical hardware to help support Kahlo's body, which was weakened by polio and then badly damaged by a bus accident. Kahlo painted on all sorts of surfaces, including her medical hardware, a piece of which displayed a flamboyant red hammer and sickle. It was particularly fascinating to walk through Frida's library and see her collection of books in English, Spanish, French, and German. (I thought it would be hilarious if she happened to have a copy of my grandfather's autobiography, which dates to that period, but of course she didn't.) In addition to the artifacts were a couple home movies, the more poignant ones of which showed the genuine love Frida had for her on-again-off-again husband, Diego Rivera, who was 22 years her senior and not anywhere near her league with respect to beauty. Leon Trotsky appears in one of the home movies, leading me to wonder what language he and Frida communicated in (Gretchen thought it was probably English). Other than that, though, Trotsky was never mentioned (even though I've long been under the impression that he was assassinated by one of Stalin's henchmen while stayling with Frida and Diego).
Eventually our tour dumped us out in the courtyard where we knew (from the home movies) that Frida had fed ducks and petted the heads of a weird Mexican breed of hairless dog. There's also a large (though not very tall) concrete pyramid there occupying a lot of valuable space, though its only use appears to be for displaying sculpture, some of which are priceless genuine Aztec/Toltec/Mayan artifacts. Interestingly, there are baskets stuccoed into the tops of the exterior walls all around the courtyard, and the only use I could think of for them was to provide nesting habitat for birds. Before leaving, Gretchen waited in a very slow line to use the museum's public women's room, which only had two stalls. While waiting, Gretchen kept wondering what the hell the women were doing in there so long. Were they applying makeup? Were they changing into ball gowns? They weren't shitting, that was clear, because there was no stench. When Gretchen's turn came, she was in and out of there in 30 seconds tops.
After leaving the Kahlo Museum, Gretchen wanted to stroll around through another indoor bazaar even though there was nothing she would want to buy in such a place. With that burst of visual overload behind us, Gretchen wanted jamaica shaved ice from a specific shop she'd seen earlier. But after failing to find it, we got some from a push-cart. We were already eating it before we remembered that we're not supposed to consume ice of unknown origin while in Mexico City. If it was frozen tapwater, we'd likely be setting ourselves up for a night on the toilet. Fortunately, though, nothing bad came of this.
On the bike ride back to Condesa, we stopped for a break across Avenue Insurgentes Sur from the Parque Hundido. We were able to return our bikes to an Ecobici bike rack here, thus resetting the 45 minute clock (our plan today allowed for unlimited biking, but if we exceeded 45 minutes for any particular bike, we would be charged extra). But when we went to get fresh new bikes from the rack, my phone refused to connect to the public WiFi and continued refusing even after a reboot. So we ended up walking north up Avenue Insurgentes Sur for a couple blocks until I saw another Ecobici bike rack I could get a bike from. This required crossing Avenue Insurgentes Sur, which is a huge road. But this is easier in Mexico than it would've been ain, say, Atlanta, as the traffic lights along the avenue cause the traffic to come in short pulses with lots of time between them, allowing a person to safely cross. This time, my WiFi worked and I successfully obtained a bike.
Back at the hotel, we had our usual siesta (though by then the sun was going down, so it really wasn't siesta time any more. When dinnertime came around, we were both craving something a little different than the Mexican-inflected food we'd been eating. So we walked down to a nearby hole-in-the-wall vegan pizza place called Salvaxe Condesa. There we ordered a bunch of things, including a margarita pizza, hash browns, a unit of lasagna, and some batter-fried mushrooms. We walked around the block while all this was being prepared, with Gretchen stopping periodically to marvel at the architecture (she's particularly drawn to tiny windows surrounded by ornate decoration). Once we got back to our hotel with our food, I hooked up my laptop to the room's teevee with an HDMI cable I'd brought so we could watch the fifth episode of the fourth season of True Detective while we ate. I haven't been loving this season, but that episode was pretty good and had me wanting to watch the next one, which would be the last of the season. I don't think I've ever watched a show where I was rooting so much for the people trying to cover up a murder.
As for the food, I definitely liked it much more than Gretchen did. She found it very oily and kind of gross. As for me, at first I wasn't sure about the batter-fried mushrooms. There was a weird bitter note in there somewhere. But then something clicked and I started to love them. And then when I went back to eating hashbrowns, the mushrooms had reconfigured my tastebuds or something to the point where the hashbrowns tasted exactly like fish sticks, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Frida's very yellow kitchen. We hadn't paid for the priviledge of taking photos, so I took this one on the sly. Click to enlarge.

Gretchen with a lovely self-portrait Frida Kahlo painted, turned into a postcard. It was the one thing in the gift shop that Gretchen wanted. Click to enlarge.

Me in the courtyard of Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul. Click to enlarge.

People on the street out in front of Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul. Click to enlarge.

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