Sometimes it’s good to be a baby boomer

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Travelling the world as a baby boomer has its challenges: sitting in cramped airline seats and climbing long flights of stairs after a long day can be a test when the years start adding up. But there are also times when you get a little extra care and courtesy, times that make you think: it’s good to be a baby boomer.

I’ve always found that Latin Americans treat their older citizens with admirable respect. And I’ve experienced it myself, from time to time, with people offering me a seat on the subway or carrying a bag I could have handled myself. But on my recent trip to Mexico City, I had an experience that made me feel how good it is to be a baby boomer.

After a long hunt, I arrived on a hot afternoon at La Casa Azul — the Blue House, in English — where renowned artist Frida Kahlo (at right) lived and died, and where she created many of her famous paintings. It was also where she and her husband Diego Rivera hosted a long list of  luminaries, including Nelson Rockefeller, George Gershwin — and Leon frida kahlo bagTrotsky, the exiled leader of the Russian Revolution. Trotsky lived with them in the Blue House for two years in the late 1930s, and was later assassinated in a house nearby.

Today, the house is a museum, filled with the couple’s possessions and their art. And it’s a lovely sight — as blue as its name suggests, and situated on a pretty street in the city’s picturesque Coyoacán neighbourhood. But I was less than pleased to see a line-up of people outside, stretching halfway down the block. I was in for a long wait to get in.

There was nothing to do but line up. But before I did, I took a look at the sign near the door, listing the hours and the admission price: 200 pesos for foreigners, but just 15 pesos for pensionados, or retired people. Just what I like – a big seniors discount. But did it mean me? At some venues, the discount didn’t apply to foreigners.

I approached a middle-aged man in a suit who was busily managing the crowd. Did the discount apply only to Mexicans? No, he said: it was for everyone. “How old are you?” he asked. I told him. He said something in Spanish that I didn’t catch. But I was already on my way to the back of the line.

Suddenly, I heard him call “senor!” I looked up to see him beckoning me. “Come with me,” he said, in English. I did as he asked, and to my amazement, he led me right past the slow-moving crowd and straight to the ticket desk. “A pensionado ticket for my friend,” he ordered, and disappeared before I could even thank him.

Frida Kahlo dollsA minute earlier I had been a slightly tired retiree, cooling my heels on the sidewalk. Suddenly, I was a VIP, going to the front of the line, and paying a pittance – about a dollar – to get into the museum. The warmth of the welcome followed me through the house (which is well worth the full price of admission). I left with a smile on my face.

So at least in Mexico City, it’s good to be a baby boomer. All these years of living have earned us some respect. Still, nothing’s perfect. On the way out, I crossed the street where a souvenir vendor was peddling memorabilia adorned with Frida Kahlo’s image. And there, on the ground, was a basket of impish-looking dolls bearing Kahlo’s unmistakable black hair and unibrow. Maybe they’re everyone is quite so respectful …

If you’re interested in La Casa Azul and Frida Kahlo, this Wikipedia page offers a detailed description. As well, the movie Frida recounts the dramatic story of Kahlo’s life and her marriage to Diego Rivera. 

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About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

3 Comments

  1. Keith Heaven on

    Just back from the lovely Spanish city of Sevilla and I can report that there are a number of sites that offer real reductions for “pensionistas”. Just 2 Euros each to enjoy the amazing Alcazar Palace and Gardens! Even with the exchange rate with the UK pound becoming disastrous, due to Brexit, it was still an unbeatable deal.

    • Thanks for the report, Keith. I don’t know how generous most European countries are with their senior discounts, but those are great — you can pay 10 euros or more to see some museums in Europe.

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