Make a Visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum | Casa Azul

La Casa Azul… Frida Kahlo’s childhood home in Coyoacán, Mexico City became her studio and residence is now Museo Frida Kahlo. Frida left a deep impression on the world and certainly left a lasting mark on me. My time in Mexico City was limited to one week. The one agenda I insisted on making happen when I was in my maiden visit to CDMX was to venture south to the colorful Coyoacán neighborhood to unabashedly swoon and fawn. With good reason, make a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum – it is not a place to be missed when you find yourself in Mexico City. 

Today is her birthday, by the way. She would be 110 today. Instead, she died 6 days after her 47th birthday.

Frida Kahlo Museum

Some practical tips:

Here are a few ways to make your visit to Museo Frida Kahlo smooth and stress free!

*Ticket prices are about 10% higher on weekends than week days ($220.00 pesos compared to $200.00 pesos during week days for non-Mexican citizens).

Frida Kahlo Museum
Go as early in the day as you can reasonably make it.

The museum will get busier as the day goes on, regardless of day of the week. I asked museum staff and they confirmed every day is bananas with the crowd. I went on a Wednesday and arrived at the museum about an hour after opening. And it was so busy. As in I committed to my intention to visit the museum and made nearly a complete day of it by the length of my wait.

Frida Kahlo Museum
Buy your ticket in advance.

This is SO important!! Even if you don’t have a printer, no worry! You can download electronic versions of your ticket/s and they have devices to scan from your phone. Pre-purchasing your ticket (you’ll select from available time slots) is going to be the difference of waiting 15-30 minutes for your queue and four hours. Yes, I waited FOUR HOURS because I wasn’t sure if I could bring an electronic ticket. Don’t be like me. By the ticket in advance!

Casa Azul Frida Kahlo Museum

If you want to take pictures, you need a special picture fee. 

You need to pay an additional fee if you want to take pictures. There are docents and attendants throughout the museum and they will check to see if you have a photography pass. The cost of the pass is fairly minimal (about $30.00 pesos).

The house portion of the museum is set up to direct the traffic and flow in pretty much a single direction. Don’t expect to be able to navigate through the house freely. The courtyard and other structures have more freedom in flow.

Frida Kahlo Museum

“I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.” ~Frida Kahlo

I am so happy I went even though I waited four hours to gain entrance! 

If you love her work, I highly recommend you make a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum. I believe you will walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of her life.  

Museo Frida Kahlo

If you are able to get an early admission, you are already a majority of the way to Xochimilco, so you can ride your Frida high on the ancient canals and get serenaded by mariachis. 

Frida Kahlo Museum

XO, Jennifer

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Some Things to Enjoy | The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

I know I’ve been quite off the radar and absent. I’m sorry! It seems every time I turn to the news there is more news that drags me down. I’m already in a tender spot of sad feelings with my dissertation frustrations so I find that I get easily overwhelmed with the state of our administration. This week, in particular, has my head spinning. So it’s good for me to consciously see what’s good. And there’s so much good!

I’m back in Alabama and will spend probably a majority of what remains of summer down here. It’s quiet, on the farm, and aside from morning garden duties, I have minimal distractions. My current focus on finishing the final edits and revisions (again, and again) are my big priority. The next one is – to find a job. That is an interesting experiment in frustration and reflection. In time….

Nashville the Gulch

Here are some things that inspire and uplift me this week.

Whatever you are looking ahead to with your long weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful!

Something I’m Listening to…. Lin-Manuel Miranda – The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

Unless you’ve been underneath a rock or exclusively watch Fox & Friends, you might have seen the #HAM4ALL challenge. Borrowing inspiration from the ALS ice bucket challenge, Miranda is asking participants to upload a video of them singing a selection from Hamilton to social media and make a donation to the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, then nominate two friends to do the same.

Hello – challenge accepted! And I have terrible stage fright, and cannot carry a tune, whatsoever (I’m so bad).

I hope you participate, too. It’s fantastic cause and electric campaign.

Something I’m Reading…. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I started a reread of this book last summer then accidentally packed it up and put in storage before finishing. When I was going through some more items to “prune” and get rid of during a yard sale at my folks’ house at the beginning of the month I found it again, dogeared right where I left off. You may remember the delightful movie with Kathy Bates charming us as the mousy middle aged self conscious housewife and Jessica Tandy as Ninny, a quirky resident in a senior assisted living home who inspires Bates’s Evelyn to come into her own.

If you had any enjoyment in the movie, consider visiting your local library and making the book a summer read. It follows three story patterns: present day (1980’s) with Evelyn and Ninny; the fictional newsletter, “The Weems Weekly;” and Ninny’s childhood memories in 1920’s Whistle Stop, Alabama in which the beloved character Idgie will charm you as she did the bees.

If you loved the movie, as I did, I believe you will embrace the novel. There are  themes beautifully and tenderly written in the book that were not translated into the film, particularly the nuance pertaining to Idgie and Ruth’s relationship.

Fried Green Tomatoes

And then you can watch the film again, too! I promise you, before I leave Alabama again, I’ll share with you my recipe for fried green tomatoes. They are truly heavenly and worth the cheat day, and I’m loving having such close access thanks to the abundant garden harvest this summer on the farm.

Something I’m Loving…. 

I drove through Nashville last weekend on my way back to Alabama. Now, Music City… THAT is a fun town! I was quite short on time as I was making the drive from Kansas to Birmingham in a day – a long day. A break in my drive was scheduled so I could spend some time in the Gulch. Don’t be fooled, she’s 100% devil! Oh, Edie….

Nashville the Gulch -

I love planners. For 2017 I had a pretty “millenial pink” planner from Bando, despite not being a millenial – I’m technically not a Gen X, either, having been born in the weird transition years from 1977-1983 that is considered a microgeneration neither fitting in either set. Dawson’s Creek for the win (too young for 21 Jump Street, too old for One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl).

For 2018, I have a jump on my planner, already. I selected this pretty planner from Kate Spade – solely because I love the cover image. If you’re into zodiacs, this is the perfect pick for you.

And, hi, um, can you believe tomorrow is July?! Where has 2017 gone?!

The Gulch in Nashville Mural What Lifts You Up
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Five Great Movies to Inspire Solo Travel

Summer is in full swing and what if the heat has you clamoring to take a great escape? Whether seeking inspiration for your next vacation destination, wanting a sojourn in your mind, or craving a nudge to buy the ticket you’ve been dreaming of, here are some great movies to inspire solo travel and feed that ever loving wanderlust in you. 

Grab some popcorn and fuzzy socks and wine, and settle in for a movie night in the comfort of AC as respite from the summer heat. Find your personal ticket to a next adventure. From trekking trips to jet setting around the world, these films feature women who bring their passions with passports. These ladies knew how to go their own ways.

Under the Tuscan Sun | Starring Diane Lane

Following a divorce from her husband who left her for the woman he was having an affair with, Frances Mayes makes an impulsive purchase to beat all… a rundown villa in Tuscany. This film is as delightful and hopeful as the cinematography is beautiful. Now, where can I find some limoncello, bella? 

Tracks | Starring Mia Wasikowska

Another adaptation of a memoir, this captivating film follows Robyn Davidson’s nine month journey as she treks across Australia. The movie is vivid, breathtaking, and incredibly gorgeous. You may find yourself researching the Outback after this one! This is one of those movies that you feel so hard, the lump in your throat will burn before your eyes get watery.  Seriously, so good….

Wild | Starring Reese Witherspoon

Okay, yes, another memoir adaptation. Cheryl Strayed, of the Dear Sugar series, book, and podcast, authored her heartbreaking story of the intense interventions she created for herself to heal from the trauma of her mother’s death. Determined to heal herself, Strayed set forth on an epic solo thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese brings you into Strayed’s downward spiral of self destruction and triumph in her personal salvation. And don’t forget about the impeccable cinematography capturing the scenery along the stretch of the PCT. G-G-G-G-Gorgeous!

Also, one of my favorite books… I highly recommend this as a read. Perhaps some inflight reading?

Eat, Pray, Love | Starring Julia Roberts

The memoir touched the hearts of millions of women. Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal quest to reconnect with her true self, a self she lost in being the roles she took on in how she believed she needed to be with the people in her life. Spending a year in Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali), Gilbert discovers the joy of living and power of self love. The story resonates with many people who can relate to seeking self discovery and finding our personal compasses.

Out of Africa | Starring Meryl Streep

Karen Blixen is a Danish baroness who traveled to colonial-era Kenya to work the plantation she owned with her husband. This is a story of Blixen asserting her independence in a foreign land and culture, managing a plantation by trial and error, and coming into her own as a powerful force for her own advocacy and experiences. To watch this film is to see Streep in what I think is her best, and – hello – Robert Redford. Together! “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills….” So starts the film narration. If you want more, watch it. Also, the book was incredible, too.

It’s no coincidence the five films I selected here are all based on true stories of women striking out to live their lives by their designs, and ultimately, literally, write their own stories. For each film listed here, I have also read the book, and they are all worthy of space in your schedule and on your bookshelf.

I think there’s something incredibly powerful about choosing to be deliberate and then having the ability to share your story with a meaningful impact and value to others.

movies to inspire solo travel

Have you traveled solo or are planning a maiden voyage anytime soon? 

movies to inspire solo travel

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A Flat Bottomed Boat Fiesta in Xochimilco

Have you been to Xochimilco? So sings the Mexican pop band Mariaxibit. The song, Boyfriend from Mexico, is silly and cheeky. I “discovered” this particular song when someone who wanted to be my boyfriend (from Mexico) serenaded me with it. Unfortunately – well, I guess it depends how you look at it – I did not want the boyfriend from Mexico. But… I did learn how to properly pronounce the party that is this series of canals and wonderful, colorful, flat bottomed boats in the southern part of Mexico City.

A long standing CDMX bucket list location for me, upon my first full day in CDMX I set out to experience these canals and spend part of a day in Xochimilco once and for all. 

Xochimilco is affectionately called the “Venice” of Mexico City. You might also hear people talk about the “floating gardens” of Mexico City and they are referring to here. While two’s company, three’s a crowd, and anything more is a fiesta or a brawl, my solo venture was a party of one. And that was mightily alright by me.

xochimilco

And party!

Yes, Xochimilco is one heck of an awesome party.

Yes, it is a monstrous tourist trap. But!! A visit in Mexico City would be incomplete without at least one ride on these boats drinking beer, eating street food, and partying to music by mariachis. In fact, I have it on authority that locals – chilangos – even venture here on weekends to unwind. Go prepared, and you can avoid paying an arm and a leg for the experience.

There are several boat operators who will be vying for your business. Most boats can be rented for around 350 – 450 pesos per hour. This is by boat. The more people in your party, the lesser cost per person.

xochimilco

I negotiated down to 150 pesos for an hour long ride in the canals. Now, that is quite low – ridiculously low and truth be told I don’t know how I pulled off that negotiation! The afternoon threatened rain and the canals weren’t very busy. In fact, the sky did open up almost immediately upon me getting back on land. I totally pulled a pansy move and rang an Uber, and trust me when I tell you the metro is mich cheaper and faster. Traffic doesn’t move quickly in Mexico City. And rush hour in CDMX makes LA’s 405 look like an efficient traffic movement system. At least I had quite the captive intercambio partner to practice my Spanish with for the nearly two hours it took to drive to my apartment in Condesa! 

But back to the cost of the boats…. Generally, if you can get a boat around 350 pesos per hour, you have a good deal. You may be able to negotiate the hourly rate down more if you plan to be on the boat for a longer time.
When you rent the boat, that is what you are getting. The boat. You can bring a pre-packed picnic of food and beverages (don’t forget the beer or wine, y’all) and you can purchase at Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas before boarding your boat. You can purchase from vendors on the canals on boats but it’s more expensive and limited to sodas, cervezas, and elotes.

xochimilco

Once you are on your boat, it is all about the canals and collective celebrations! Mariachi bands float by on passing boats and you can hire them to come onto your boat and perform for you. I say do it! You can also bring your own speakers, or find some to rent in the stalls along the waterfront. Then, chill out and wave and call out to the other boats passing by.

I had far too much enjoyment playing with my selfie stick and dabbling in the water in between calling back and forth with the different mariachi bands and boats. I still hadn’t quite become accustomed to people taking pictures of me. That continues to be an awkward experience. They definitely aren’t taking pictures of my spectacular street fashion. I’m not ending up in any fashion blogs anytime soon unless as a “don’t.” 

Xochimilco

There are shops and greenhouses along the canals as well as a replica of the famous doll island, Isla de las Muñecas. The real island is several hours away, but the replica is a few minutes from the boat launches. You can request the driver of the boat to stop while you explore and shop.

Getting to Xochimilco

xochimilco

Mexico City is huge and traveling by car can take forever. You can get to Xochimilco very easily by metro, though! Wherever you get on, take the train to Tasqueña which is, literally, the end of the line. You then take a second train by following the signs to Tren Ligero which drops you off directly in Xochimilco.

When I went, Tren Ligero was under construction but there’s an easy fix. From the stop at Tasqueña, take a shuttle bus (bonus – it’s free) to Azteca Stadium. From there you can get back on a train to Xochimilco.

Now, from the station you can walk or grab a quick cab. It’s important you specify you want to be taken to Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas. This is important! Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas is the main launch area and parking lot. Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas has loads of food stands from where you can purchase food to bring into your boat. Ignore the signs suggesting other entrance points. Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas is where you need to get your party started!

xochimilco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, guapas, tell me… have you ever been to Xochimilco? XO, Jennifer

 

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My “Secret Garden” | Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

Have you ever stumbled onto – or into – a space and immediately inhaled in quiet glee and adoration of of whatever it is you find particularly beautiful? Such a moment occurred when I happened upon the Centro Cultural San Pablo (San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center) in the center of Oaxaca.

On a random Friday afternoon I found myself wandering through the Zocalo wondering how I wanted to spend the rest of my afternoon before my date with Mr. Tall Dark Haaaaaaandsome and Speaks Great English. I was floating high on the purchase of my new hat, which I still love.

I remembered the Textile Museum was close, so headed in that direction. Because I’m a get-lost-in-a-shoebox kind of gal, I wandered into the San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center by accident.

I allowed myself to be temporarily distracted by the herringbone bricks inlaid in the grass. By the succulents climbing a facade to make a wall of cacti. By the exquisitely curated art exhibit inside the center. And I haven’t even mentioned the cafe with the super fast wifi. Or the glass enclosed library which became one of my regular hot spots…. I know I mentioned the super fast wifi.

If you need a quiet space to focus and work with fast wifi, SP is definitely a space to consider.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

My selfie session was interrupted by a photography student who took some pictures of me. I like to think it’s because of my hat and not because he was horrified at the indignity of a selfie stick.

The interior exhibit of fine arts included a small collection of beautiful huipels. The skill and amount of dedicated patience that goes into the making of these gorgeous garments is beyond any I possess… of either.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

I walked through the photography exhibit documenting, through magnificent pictures, the relationship between the people of Oaxaca and chocolate. Chocolate is indigenous to the area and has been traded and consumed, even used as currency and in rituals since pre-Hispanic times. Heck, during my Temazcal I was instructed to pour chocolate on my body. Side note: THAT was an overwhelmingly outside my comfort zone experience!

Even though my Spanish is only good enough for me to read approximately one quarter to a third of what is written, the photographs were so dynamic I could understand the story and the importance.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

In the matter of a single functional space I found: two fine art exhibitions, a highly functional library, a restaurant, a cafe, an art space, a public performance forum (beautiful concerts by the week), a respite from the busy bustle of Ave. Indepencia, a creative work space, and a cafe with beautiful local coffee and many chairs for reading or gathering and talking with amigos. Look at their website or Facebook to see numerous workshops, concerts, and screenings they offer, definitely by the week and seemingly by the day.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

How have you encountered your “my little secret” spots, whether traveling or in your own home town?

Centro Cultural San Pablo:

Hidalgo 907, Centro Histórico
Oaxaca, Mexico

XO, Jennifer

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca

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