JANE FISHMAN: Mexico: So close, so awesome - Entertainment & Life - Savannah Morning News - Republik City News
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It’s not every day you can walk into a crowded, colorful marketplace in Mexico City — about 15 minutes from Frida Kahlo’s home — and see a T-shirt hanging above the splashy kaleidoscope of colors and designs with your name on it. “He’s a wrestler from the ’80s,” a friend from Merida tells me. “Fishman,” I learn later, is his ring name, short for Jose Angel Najera Sanchez. “Fishman” fought as an enmascarado, a masked wrestler. One of his sons, “Fishman Jr.,” was also a wrestler.

“Was he any good?” I ask Luis, my friend.

“He’s on a T-shirt, isn’t he?”

Who knew?

That’s why we travel: to run smack into these surprises. Some things you can’t make up. Later, in conversation, Luis, who is a tour guide, says some of the best years of his life were spent in school in the U.S. “Where?” I ask. At a boarding school in Atchison, Kansas. “Really?” I say. He loved it. His son goes to a military school in Wisconsin. He loves that, too.

We travel to meet people like that. And to make connections. That night, I noticed a wrestling convention setting up in our fancy, downtown hotel on Paseo de la Reforma. I didn’t see any “Fishman” fans. The next day in the airport, hunting around for the rare English-published newspaper (very little English in the airport or much of what I saw in four days), I saw an inexpensive, packaged green and gold wresting mask selling next to nuts, candy, magazines, books. It zips up the back. It wasn’t the distinctive mask “Fishman” wore in his glory days but I bought it anyway.

If English is not prevalent, wrestling is. The night we inadvertently ordered bone marrow on top of a handmade corn tortilla with black beans and guacamole the cantina television was stuck on wrestling. I opted against suggesting the Australian Open.

On the day I bought my new T-shirt, I ventured into the market and ordered tacos with chapulines (crickets or grasshoppers) and a bag of chapulines for afternoon snacks. They are crunchy. I’ll give them that. But they looked too much like, well, crickets — even after frying in oil. When I went to bed that night, I kept visualizing the skinny back legs. They were moving. For crunch, I prefer almonds.

JANE FISHMAN: Mexico: So close, so awesome – Entertainment & Life – Savannah Morning News, Republik City News

To quench one’s thirst, however, nothing beats coconut juice straight from the coconut. It’s the perfect antidote for dry mouth in this high-altitude town. Mexico City sits 7,349 feet up, some 2,000 feet above Denver. The coconut vendor is deft. He wields that hatchet on a stubborn coconut as if he’s done it before. He still has all his fingers, too.

He and other vendors set up in Chapultepec, a park twice as large as New York’s Central Park. That’s where we walked into the Museo de Arte Moderne, down from the National Museum of Anthropology and saw, by surprise, Frida Kahlo’s famed “The Two Fridas.”

With so many trees, the park — or “the forest,” as Spanish speaking folks call it — is known as the town’s “green lung.” That’s a good thing. There are 1 million cars are on the road. Since the city outlawed leaded gas, air quality has improved dramatically, I am told. The drivers are skilled. They zip. They zag. If they signal when they change lanes, I did not see it. Not too much honking, either. In four days in this city of 5 million I never saw an accident. Somehow it all works.

I was not driving.

Superlatives abound in Mexico City. It has the most museums of any city (or close) in the world, the third largest plaza (Zocalo) in the world, the best (some would say) collection of Diego Rivera murals (many in the Presidential Palace), an ornate and old post office open seven days a week (the Palacio de Correos), a most opulent cultural arts center (Palacio de Bellas Artes), with more Diego murals (and a performance by the stunning Ballet Folklorico that started at 9 a.m.).

Finally, Mexico has pyramids, those strange triangular shaped structures with the perfect weight distribution converging at the top. Archaeologists estimate there are 200 in the world. We visited Teotihuacan built some 2,000 years ago. At one time they housed an estimated 125,000 people. The purpose? To get closer to the divinity, to shock and awe, not unlike the most beautiful cathedral. The builders? No one is quite sure.

It’s not every day you get to climb a pyramid.

Contact Jane Fishman at gofish5@earthlink.net or call 912-484-3045.

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