Category Archives: Mexico

Travel theme: Big

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Ailsa’s Where is My Backback? blog is fun to read and offers weekly photo challenges. I felt inspired by this week’s travel theme: big. So here we go…

El Jem, Tunisia
This is of the biggest Roman amphitheaters, truly an amazing sight in the Tunisian desert!

El Jem Read the rest of this entry

Frida Kahlo in Rosslyn

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Frida in Artisphere

Today I had a chance (last chance since the exhibit is closing) to see 259 photographs from Frida Kahlo’s personal collection, in storage and sealed until 2007 and for the first time on display in the U.S. in Rosslyn’s Artisphere. The images were divided into six thematic collections. The Origins shows the photos of her family, including many portraits of her Mexican mother and German father. The Blue House documents Frida’s life in her beloved Casa Azul where she was born in 1907, lived for years, and died in 1954. The Broken Body shows the physical pain that permeated Frida’s life ever since a tram accident crushed her pelvis and fractured her spine, requiring more than 30 surgeries over the years. Loves, The Photography, and Diego’s Eye focus on portraits and candid moments of Frida and the people who mattered in her life, notably husband Diego Rivera. I learned three pieces of trivia from the exhibit:

    1. Frida’s mother was of Tehuana heritage (from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area). Frida looked exactly like her, unibrow and all.
    2. Her father was born in Pforzheim, Germany, changed his name from Wilhelm to Guillermo when he moved to Mexico.
    3. Arlington, VA and Coyoacán in Mexico City are sister cities.

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The treasures of Tulum

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Templo Dios del Viento, Tulum

“We followed the coast day and night and the next day toward sunset we sighted a city or town so large that Seville would not have appeared bigger or better; one saw there a very large tower; on the shore was a great throng of Indians, who bore two standards which they raised and lowered to signal us to approach them; the commander did not wish it. The same day we came to a beach near which was the highest tower we had seen.”

That is how Juan Diaz described Tulum in 1518. Diaz was a member of a Spanish expedition of four ships and two hundred men led by Juan de Grijalva and organized by the governor of Cuba eager to find Mayan gold. They first landed at Cozumel island and continued south, soon reaching the walled city. The tower that Diaz was so impressed with was El Castillo, a pyramid facing the ocean that served as a watchtower and a lighthouse and is Tulum’s trademark till today. When I saw the ruins on my trip, I could imagine the conquistadors sailing by in their ships, mouth agape, staring at a mighty fortress perched on the top of a rocky coast. They were the first Europeans to see Tulum – or at least the first ones to write about it – and must have been quite in awe given Diaz’s admission that it could rival a contemporary European city. Seville-in-the-Caribbean survived seven decades after the Spanish conquest but eventually was abandoned when the Old World diseases decimated the local population. Read the rest of this entry