Ooyoacán was once a hard-to-pronounce place, little known outside of Mexico City. Now it is an almost-obligatory destination for most visitors. Blame it on Frida Kahlo-mania. The artist’s birthplace and final residence, now the Museo Casa Azul, is here on a quiet residential street between similar still-private homes built around the turn of the 20th century. The folk art-filled museum, open as such since 1957, now draws queues that snake around the tree-lined block (advance online purchase of tickets is advisable). But this was not always the case.
On my first visit to this vast capital in 1978 as a student of art history, I wanted to visit the then little-known artist’s house. My guidebook didn’t mention it and my hotel concierge didn’t know of it – nor did the several taxi drivers I queried to help me find it. On that occasion I didn’t get there. And when I finally did, several years later, it was dusty and forgotten; I was the only visitor that day.