San Angel, Xochimilco, and Polanco

San Angel is a far cry from the historical center. It is the Montmartre to Mexico City’s Paris. San Angel is a quaint and picturesque village, an island of tranquility in this chaotic city.
The cobblestone streets are lined with brightly colored colonial houses; huge stone walls carpeted by bougainvillea hide wealthy mansions. Only the stately gates hint at the opulence behind.
We came here early for their weekly El Bazaar Sabado – an arts and crafts market on San Jacinto Square. The (high end) crafts and jewelry market is held inside one of the buildings on the square; while the square itself hosts painters who display their art (often questionable) along the fences and inside the park, in the alleys. The atmosphere is festive and jubilant. Nothing, though, caught my eye enough to give any of the displayed pieces a new home.
Across the square from the crafts building, there was another market going on the roof of another multi-purpose building, the first floor of which is home to a restaurant and permanent art galleries. The top floor was packed with artisans selling handmade handicrafts, many of them for children, and many quite adorable!
In addition to the Saturday market, there were quite a few permanent art galleries and craft stores – most of them charming and some – with lovely merchandise.
Our plan was to leave by 1 but we stayed until 3 – we liked it so.
Actually, everything in CDMX takes longer than expected. First, it takes longer to get an uber. Then, you sit in traffic for twice as long as your phone had promised you would, and third, you end up liking where you are and staying longer.
Destination #2 on my Saturday schedule was Museo Dolores Olmedo – a former home of a wealthy socialite who was an avid art collector specializing is Diego and Frida. Much to my chagrin, Frida had just left the premises for an exhibition at the Dali museum in St, Petersburg, Florida – boohoo 😦
I wouldn’t have gone had I known that, because I went there for Frida, not for Diego (I am not a big fan of his). But since we were already there, we looked at the numerous Diegos Señora Dolores had collected. I was actually impressed by his versatility as a painter. When I think of Diego, I think “murals” painted in his distinct style, but here, there was everything: from cubism to landscapes, to (my favorite) the portraits of Russian kids in the winter painted with a hint of Russian folk art.
In addition, there was a small but very impressive collection of pre-hispanic art – some very well preserved and artistic pieces. There was also a temporary exhibit dedicated to the Day of the Dead – awfully kitschy but fun,
Outside, in the garden, señora kept a pack of hairless Mexican dogs who (or their descendants) still live there. They are odd creatures: reminding me of giant black rats or a version of the Tasmanian devil.
The neighborhood of Xochimilco, where the museum stands, is kind of sketchy, so we happily left the premises for the oasis of Polanco. We walked around the fancy neighborhood, checked out the shops and people, and had dinner at Dulce Patria. Being in Polanco after anywhere else in CDMX is a shock. It took me at least an hour to readjust my eyes and my senses. It’s like being in a completely different city, different country even – the contrast is staggering!


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