We spent the day in Mexico City’s Historic Center. I stopped into the bookstore Porrua bought La Maleta Mexicana (The Mexican Suitcase). The title and the cover looked intriguing. The blurb on the back cover described how a group of people worked together to smuggle Robert Capa’s 4,000 photos out of Europe. It sounded like a spy novel, but it was a true story.
I didn’t even know who this Robert Capa was, or what these photos were about, but I found out fast. Robert Capa took photos during the Spanish civil war, depicting Franco’s war crimes. The fascist European governments before World War 2 wanted these photos destroyed.
The photos ended up in New York, and then they disappeared. They were found 70 years later in Mexico City. Specifically, they were found at the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, in Mexico City’s historic center, just half a block from the bookstore where I bought the book.
The school-turned-museum was closed for the pandemic when we visited, so we only got this photo. We went back, though, after the pandemic for a museum tour.
The book I found, La Maleta Mexicana, is only available in Spanish. I was so excited after reading it, though, that I found Eyes On The World by Marc Aronson & Marina Budhos. This book is even more exciting. It’s about Robert Capa’s and Gerda Taro’s lives taking photos in war zones. I highly recommend it.
And Mexico City? It’s begun to feel like home to us. Poet Renato Leduc, who’s part of the story in La Maleta Mexicana, returned to Mexico after 10 years and said, “Mexico, after all, isn’t a bad place to go back to live, to paint, to take photographs. To be born. Or to be reborn.”