National Treasure

by afatpurplefig


Anyone who has met my father, or has heard me speak of him, knows he is a pretty unique guy. A prolific reader, he is, quite literally, a fount of knowledge. As a child, it was easier to ask him things than it was to look them up in the encyclopaedia. The only drawback was that you generally had to sit through far more information than you were looking for, and would usually end up whining, “Daaaaad, just teeelll meeeeee…”.

I’d never met anyone quite like him.

Until Alvaro.

Our tour guide for Wednesday, Alvaro was charged with introducing us to the wonders of Centro Historico, the central district of Mexico. From the moment he met us, he commenced what was to be the richest education in Mexican history that I could have possibly hoped for.

If you don’t know much about Mexico, you might be surprised at how beautiful it is:

The cathedral is out of this world…and the catholic church only has right of use, because it belongs to the city. I can’t remember many of Alvaro’s other details (kilos of gold, cathedral-impressiveness comparison, weight of the bells…to name but a few) but I’m pretty sure the organ is one of the biggest in the world…and it was playing while we were there.

If the magnificence on the surface of the city isn’t enough, the ruins of the capital of the Aztec empire lie BENEATH the city. The Zocalo (the main square in Mexico City), is surrounded by the cathedral, the national palace, the government offices, and…you guessed it…actual Aztec ruins. It’s hard to fathom.

He even took us to a beautiful bookstore…and bought books.

Mexico can get quite hot and, like a trip to Westfields to buy a single item, it soon gets quite exhausting, so Eva opted for a quiet afternoon, while Alvaro and I committed a few more hours to seeing spectacular things.

If you think I’m exaggerating, this is the Post Office:

The walk around the city soon slowed, as questions led to extended pauses, for Alvaro to answer in the fullness of the occasion. Seeing the blue tile house led to, “I think of tiles as being very Mexican, Alvaro, is that correct?”, only to learn about blue colouring, and the influence of Chinese culture, and the story of Don Juan, who originally lived in the house, and the value of tiles through the centuries and…you get the idea.


Don’t even ask me what he did with, “When there are so many influences at play, how to you find what it means to be Mexican?”

He should be a national treasure.

After a late lunch (where Alvaro suggested, then described the history and ingredients of Mole), he really turned up the volume. A sculptor and art historian, he responded to my “take me to wherever you choose”, by taking me to see Diego Rivera’s Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central) in the appropriately named Museo Mural Diego Rivera (Diego Rivera Mural Museum), and describing every inch of it in exquisite detail. It was truly unforgettable.

Alvaro – gentleman, philosopher, historian, teacher, artist, patriot, and user of the word ‘fantastic’ in its correct context – I salute you!

Thank you for showing us your Mexico.