A trip to Mexico City was one I had been hoping to take for quite some time. I studied a lot of artists from Central America and knew Mexico City was THE place to see work by these artists, not to mention ancient pyramids and settlements. My mom and I had been trying to get a trip to Greece together and it had not worked out. When the opportunity came up to go on a group trip to Coyoacan, Mexico City where we not only got to see the sights but also create art, I knew we had to go. The trip was put together by Action Figur3s whose website boasts:
“Doing & Making with Thinking People, Action Figur3s hosts artist designed adventures in Denver Colorado and beyond, our goal is to bring people together creating community through big ideas, thoughtful play and creative experiences. It’s one-part philosophy class, one-part studio visit, one-part magic carpet ride.”
Who wouldn’t be interested in trip put together by Action Figur3s? Action Figur3s is the brain child of Katie Taft, a local Denver artist and former art teacher. Katie and I were introduced many moons ago by a shared acquaintance and have been Facebook friends ever since, which is how I found out about this trip. Bonus to the trip is that the artist guided workshops we were to participate in were hosted by Denver artist Marie EvB Gibbons. Marie had been my instructor at the Art Institute nearly 20 years ago and we were reconnected about 10 years ago when I entered a pottery show she was hosting. This trip sounded like it was made for me.
Fast forward to day 1 of the trip. We had a 6:30am flight out of Denver, so it was an early day for us. Everything went according to plan and we arrived in Mexico City around 3:15. The line through immigration was fairly long and while standing there Roxy and I started talking to the woman in front of us, who is originally from Mexico City. She told us that Coyoacan was a safe neighborhood and it was set up nicely for tourists. This was reassuring because as both Roxy and I had told people where we were going, the main question people asked about our trip was, “Mexico City? Is it safe there?” I wasn’t too worried, but this was Roxy’s first trip out of the U.S. and I didn’t want her to be freaked out by where I was taking her. We did not feel unsafe in Mexico City at any time. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
I had pre-arranged a taxi (that was one thing I was nervous about as not too long before this trip came about, I had a watched a documentary and it included taxi cab kidnappings in Mexico!) through Mexico Airport Transfers. It cost about $90 US for us both round trip (plus tip) and the service was great. They were on time both ways and communicative via email when I couldn’t remember what time they were picking us up for the return. After we talked to a few other people, we realized you can get an uber from the airport and we also learned which taxi company is safe(the pink ones!). When Eric and I go, we will most likely do that because it’s closer to $8-10 US each way. It took us about 30 minutes to get to La Casita de Coyoacan. I always like the rides from the airport to where ever we stay because I feel like that gives you the best view of what the people and places really look like..
When we arrived at La Casita, we were greeted by very loud, scary barking. We knew a big dog was behind the door. Luckily, when we entered we encountered the sweetest shepherd type dog named Lucas. He became a group favorite over the entirety of the trip. We had the whole casita to ourselves, so we were able to pick our rooms, which was nice. La Casita has about twelve rooms and a hand full of common seating areas, in addition to a lovely rooftop deck. Once our entire group was checked into our respective rooms, had some wine and snacks, we ubered our way across the neighborhood of Coyoacan to meet Sandra of Casa Otomi. Sandra’s home we would be our studio and snack bar for the next few days.
Sandra lived in Denver and ran a gallery on Tennyson street for many years. She semi-recently moved to Mexico City with her boyfriend, Abel, whose family owns a coffee farm out of Oaxaca. Casa Otomi sources and repurposes fabric, selling hand embroidered heirloom Mexican creations from artists in the area. Sandra’s home/studio is visually stunning. There are textiles everywhere, paintings by Sandra hanging on the walls, a sewing machine and exquisite samples of fabric in the hallway plus a handful of stage vignettes set up for her photo shoots.. Sandra also fed us quite a bit over this trip (12 meals were included in the cost of the trip) and cooked traditional foods that were heavenly. She had lots of bottles of mexcal for us to sample. Her rim salt had worms crushed in it! She always had a grazing table set up, which for someone like me, who gets hangry a lot, is a life saver. After a dinner of quesadillas served with various sides of mushrooms and corn smut (also known as huitlacoche, corn smut is a plant disease caused by fungus and has become a delicacy. I fell in love with it and ate it as often as possible) we were served passion fruit granita and squares of creamy dark chocolate.
Eventually, Roxy and I decided to head back to La Casita. We’d been up since 3:30 am. We took an uber back with Sue, the third guest on the trip. At the casita I had to ask for towels and the young man working said, “My English not so good.” I had a brief second where I tried to figure out how to pantomime taking a shower and toweling off. Luckily, before I entered that embarrassing scene, he handed me his phone open to Google translate and I was then able to say, “Puedo tener toallas por favor? Buenas noches!”