OR, ONLY ONE PRIVATE MUSEUM OPEN, AND WHAT A BLESSING IT WAS THIS ONE!
Puebla town is OK but after five minutes there, staying at a hotel by its very grand cathedral, I was over all the pretty illusion of it. The pretty square at the side was closed and barriers and more restrictions soon fucking left me with this now normal bitter taste in my mouth. It’s amazing how somehow rejected and cheated you feel with the culture and cultural things closed or limited or just marred by some bloody stupid thing that doesn’t let you ever forget how shit everything has become.
Anyhow I did grumpily walk around there on my first afternoon, making all the new plans after going to the actual tourist office. Even they hadn’t realized so many places were shut but at least it made the next day a swift and murderous look within the town and its pretty candyfloss buildings in its tourist old town centre, but mostly it was the Amparo that saved the day.
Anyway, after arriving the previous day from Oaxaca by bus again, I had had an underwhelming lunch in a very pretty restaurant of what seems to be a famous dish of the area. There are photos of this hideous melange of flavours at every corner,for me I would say it’s just a terribly sweet strange concoction of flavours wrapped in a kind of doughy omelette covered with sauce and pomegranate seeds. After a beautiful savoury consomme to start with this was indeed a huge disappointment. More a pudding than a main I left it and decided to go to the tourist office for a good old fashioned map and some info from the horses mouth as they say. The word wasn’t good. Museums were closing by the day as were sites. It would seem that in the five months I’ve been here that things are closing by the day. The only way to find out what is open is to actually arrive in a place and find out from the local tourist office. In two places I had arrived to find that they had shut up shop the day before, a girl could start getting a little paranoid. Anyway Amparo was the only place open but had been on the top of my list so travelling hours by bus and getting a hotel booked for three days hadn’t totally been a waste of money.
One look around the cathedral was beautiful but my mission is Pre-Hispanic art and culture so although these things can be appreciated they’re not really what I’m travelling for. The buildings covered in tiles are lovely too and there is much to appreciate there including their original library which is the oldest in the continent. Cool leafy avenues, restaurants and antique shops galore, indeed in normal times this must be a very lovely place to hang out at for a few days but this isn’t so now. Heartbreaking but true.
Museo Amparo fortunately was an exception. A delightful, fabulously curated museum with all my favourite ancient art and very helpful staff. The girl who came up to me was an angel. Very educated in the history of the collection and also she knew about the Mayan gods and research material, plus she showed me their fabulous website. Thankyou Nadia (click above link).
There are approximately 500 artistic, ceremonial, luxury and funerary objects from Western Mexico, the Balsas basin and some towns in the Valley of Mexico such as Tlatilco (Pre-Columbian village producing Olmec style ceramics between 1200 and 200 BCE) Teotihuacán (By M.C., I particularly love their murals and this well known massive city state, also has fine carvings of feathered serpents on a pyramid that they are now re excavating) Tula (Tula, also called Tollan, ancient capital of the Toltecs in Mexico, it was primarily important from approximately ad 850 to 1150.) and Tenochtitlán (under the centre of M.C.). Specimens from the center of Veracruz, the Usumacinta basin, Campeche, the Oaxaca valley and other areas of Mexico are also exhibited. These objects represent the Olmec, Huasteca (unique culture whose language has survived until now) Mayan, Teotihuacan, Nahua (later known as Aztecs2) Zapotec (Oaxacan, famous for Monte Alban) Mezcala (Guerrero is a mountainous state of southwestern Mexico, in the upper Balsas River region 700 to 200 BCE) Tajin (El Tajín is a pre-Columbian archeological site in southern Mexico it was closed when I was there) cultures and the archaeological tradition of shot tombs (shaft tombs) are also exhibited.
It was a huge relief to have this museum open and I happily captured photos in each gallery to bring home and make some sense of the huge amount of diversity and sub-sections, chronologically, and in the art style. I felt the Olmec and their fat babies bled out into many of the subsequent art forms of later cultures, and other styles adapted, or simply had their own very unique idiosyncrasies which less is known about.
I personally am very interested in some of the lesser understood and or documented such as the Mezcala, but one things for sure these galleries clarify and make a lot of their important pieces more accessible and ‘bite sized’ so you are not left with fried brain circuitry.
Although I had time to spare that first day and I never really fitted in to pretty old town Peubla, I did see that it was mostly the fact I was tired and dispirited by this time, and to be fair to me, most of the fucking place was closed.
ALSO SHOWING AT THAT TIME
First was a great Karina Skvirsky’s exhibition, Sacred Geometry. Me, I love a big rock or two and the photos were great but its very curious as I look at the site I see I had completely forgotten all the other work bar the photos of body parts sticking out from behind huge rocks. My mind has completely wiped out the other stuff there, only the squidged human behind massive great rocks. Now surely this is very Freudian? This is exactly how I’m feeling on this quest for art, history and ancient life, blocked by huge great rocks at every turn. Of course it was a beautiful extensive expo, it’s just strange until now I just remember the rocks but take a look at the link
The weather also played up and out street was closed off by some pretty hard core riot police, one of whom gave me a hard time just re-entering the street. He was jittery and sweaty as if some huge thing was going on, and when finally these terrorist bastards arrived, they were a tiny handful of very tired women pasting down photos of various sons, brothers, husbands and sometimes female members of the family who had been ‘disappeared’. It was tragic and very moving and I had a birds eye view from my room. I didn’t go down I’m ashamed to say, I already felt I was dodging bullets in this more hostile area.
This overkill of police hostility protecting this particular small street made me curious as nobody wanted to give me any information and clearly the reason was the police and their activities still unaccounted for. After the small finely orchestrated group finished with the placing on the street of the photos and evidence of the lost loved ones in front of the ridiculously massive line of Mexican police, speeches were made and chants chanted until they finally they dissolved much as the rain had dissolved the pictures on the street by the next morning when I finally went down. Shame on me.
Next I’ll take you to the neighbouring magnificent Cholula!