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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Mexico Part 24

    Saturday, October 21, 2017
    Mexico City, Mexico

    An Aztec dancer poses with a fan at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    An Aztec dancer poses with a fan at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    I heard there was supposed to be some kind of event and / or parade at the Zócalo today, so I walked down there and looked around for a while, but never did see anything. Instead, I shot photos of the Aztec dancers at the Zocalo, which I had been meaning to do for the past few days anyway. Since it was Saturday, more people than usual showed up to watch the various groups of dancers who were plying their trade around the plaza.

    Some Aztec dancers' gear at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    Some Aztec dancers’ gear at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    Aztec dancers at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    Aztec dancers at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    Festooned with mile-high feathers and intricate body paint representing various Aztec gods and demons, the dancers went wild, shaking to the big, pounding sound emanating from the tall, wooden drums. When the time came for photo ops, the crowd’s favorite dancer by far was a man whose entire face and body were painted up like a skeleton. After each person snapped a photo, he or she would give the Skeleton Man a few pesos, which he immediately tucked into a small leather pouch on the rear of his right hip before posing for the next one. He was making so much money!

    An Aztec drum at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    An Aztec drum at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico

    After I had my fill of that, I hopped on the subway, where I stood right in front of the door, facing out waiting for it to close. Even though the subway car was packed, two or three people ran up at the last second and rudely shoved their way inside. One of them wedged himself in between my face and the door, which, again, I had been standing right in front of. I was so pissed, I wanted to punch that guy. I had to struggle to move my left arm down so I could put my hand over my pocket–even though it had a zipper and it was on the front–to ward off any potential pick-pockets.

    Aztec dancers at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    Aztec dancers at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    An Aztec dancer poses with a fan at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    An Aztec dancer poses with a fan at the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    Exiting the subway, I proceeded over to the Museo de la Estampa (Museum of Graphic Arts), which is “dedicated to the history, preservation and promotion of Mexican graphic arts. The word estampa, which means engraving or printing, refers to works which have the quality of being reproducible and includes seals, woodcuts, lithography, etc. The museum was created in 1986 and located in a 19th-century neo-classical building located in the Plaza de Santa Veracruz in the historic center of the city.

    Crowds of shoppers near the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.
    Crowds of shoppers near the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico.

    “The building houses both a permanent and multiple temporary exhibits. The permanent collection includes pre-Hispanic clay seals used for printing designs on fabrics, ceramics and other surfaces, as well as printed material from the Spanish colonial period, and more recent creations. The recent works are divided into periods such as the “Age of the San Carlos Academy” (18th -19th century) and the “Resurgence of the Graphic Arts” which covered the decades from the 1920s to the 1960s. It also includes video programs on graphic techniques such as wood cuts, etchings and more.

    A linoleum print by Franco L. Gomez at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.
    A linoleum print by Franco L. Gomez at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.

    More printed artwork at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.
    More printed artwork at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.

    “Much of the museum’s space is dedicated to temporary exhibits, which are part of the museum’s mission to preserve and promote the printed arts in Mexico. Temporary exhibits include works by both national and international artists from diverse periods from the 16th to the 21st century.”–Wikipedia. Exiting the museum, I walked across Alameda Central park and bought some homemade barbecue potato chips and a Coca-Cola Sin Azucar. Then I sat down on some steps to enjoy them and watch all of the people walking by. It was a nice afternoon, the sun was shining, and a loud rock band was playing across the street.

    Psychedelic artwork at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.
    Psychedelic artwork at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.

    Then the Aggressive Shoeshine Man showed up. Even as he approached, he was already part way into his lame sales pitch. He quickly kneeled down in front of me, and without asking me if I wanted a shoe shine, he immediately smeared some liquid on one of my shoes. (Keep in mind that I was wearing leather and mesh hiking shoes–not the kind that one would normally get shined.) I was so pissed! I told him repeatedly that I did not want a shoe shine, but he just kept doing it anyway. If I got up and walked away, I would have had to deal with that guy screaming at me and I’d also have to clean the liquid off of my shoe later.

    The Ten Commandments by Philip F. Bragar at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.
    The Ten Commandments by Philip F. Bragar at the Museo de la Estampa in Mexico City, Mexico.

    A massive amount of pedestrians crosses the street at the intersection of Avenues Madero and Cardenas in Mexico City, Mexico.
    A massive amount of pedestrians crosses the street at the intersection of Avenues Madero and Cardenas in Mexico City, Mexico.

    So, I just let him finish. It only took a couple of minutes. I gave him 10 pesos, but he got a really angry look on his face and said in a very stern manner that I had to pay 100. I flat out refused and ended up giving him around 40 pesos total. (I later found out that the going rate in that area was maybe 30.) So, if you ever visit Mexico City and get approached by a roving shoe shine man while you’re sitting somewhere, just get up and walk away before he kneels down in front of you.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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