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A day (or two) in Mexico City

Written on: Friday March 28th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

{*** I have just completed an intense blog writing marathon, found internet and am posting 12 new blogs!...And so, if you are curious about the many fabulous stories from our time in the Tepotzlan region don?t forget to scroll ahead using the blog title arrows above. Happy reading and browsing!}

Seeing as how we received a recommendation to not miss Mexico city on my last post, it only seemed fitting to write about the few days we spent there next.

Truthfully, we were not all that excited about hitting the mega metropolis, and probably would never have gone, if it weren?t for a little mishap with our video camera which required us to visit the Canon service center twice; once to drop it off and once again, a few weeks later, to pick it up. My engineer husband turned ?I love the country? farmer was especially grudging the trip to the city. After visiting Cairo back in November he spoke often of how much he despised the mega-city traffic, noise, pollution, and general chaotic-ness. However, seeing as how we had to go I convinced him that we might as well take in a few sites and see what the city had to offer. We left our van at Tepotzlan and jumped on the bus. One hour later we arrived at Terminal Sur, the southernmost bus and metro station in the city and grabbed a taxi cab to Canon Dealer. ?This doesn?t look like Cairo at all?? Rob commented as we drove through the hectic, but generally clean streets. With the camera in for repair, I looked on a map and realized that we were only a few metro stops away from the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Below the street we descended into the metro expecting to find a dark, dingy and scary place. Instead, we found a well-light, clean and easy to navigate system of tunnels and tracks and interesting shops and buskers. Leaving the metro and re-surfacing near the museum, we even decided to try out a little street meat, and bought a few mystery tacos from a small vendor. At 6 pesos each (60 cents) it was the best deal we have found yet. We walked down a beautifully treed boulevard bordered on one side by the city?s largest natural park, 4 square kms of nature reserve with several lakes, a free-admission zoo and several museums. We thoroughly enjoyed the Anthropological museum and spent several hours wandering through the extensive and impressive displays of previous civilizations. The history lesson started from the pre-classic period, from 2300 BC to AD 100, with the transition from nomadic hunter and gatherer lifestyle to farming and settlements. Then, we learnt about the Teotihuacan, America?s first great powerful civilization, who built a magnificent city between AD 250 and AD 600. The Piramide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) still stands today, just north of Mexico City. It was built from over three million tons of stone entirely by hand as they had not discovered metal or the wheel nor did they use pack animals. It is actually is the third largest pyramid ever built, after Egypt?s Cheops and another pyramid south of Mexico City (although this one is in ruins). This great empire collapsed in the 8th century.

When the famous Aztecs arrived in the area in the 13th century, they marvelled at the remnants of the great city and pyramids left by the Teotihuacan. They decided that this must be the birthplace of the earth and built by the gods as there was no way such immense and magnificent buildings could have been built by man. The giant museum hall dedicated to the Aztec civilization contained magnificent artefacts including the famous sun stone, thought to be a sacrificial altar. This stone was unearthed in the 1970?s accidentally by electricity workers digging beneath the City?s main plaza. The Aztecs are well known for their ghastly and abundant use of human sacrifice, which was believed necessary for the sun to rise every day. Also, when temples were built and dedicated (or re-dedicated) to their gods it was common for mass sacrifices to occur in honor of the god in question. In one four day ceremony at the Templo Mayor, it is estimated that as many as 20,000 people were offered to the knife.

The Mayans (AD 250 to AD 900) have often been called the most brilliant of America?s civilizations with their complex writing system, calendar, and complex astrology. They inhabited mostly Mexico?s Yucantan peninsula, the low-lands in the Chiapas and present-day Guatemala and Belize. The museum exhibition was also very impressive with a full size replica of the tomb of King Pakal, which was discovered deep in a temple at Palenque, in the Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Although we will be heading to Palenque later this month, the tomb itself is now closed to the public, due to wear and oxidization that was starting to occur. It was fascinating to see how it would have looked when first discovered.

We returned to Mexico City to pick up our camera a few weeks later and decided to visit the nature reserve and zoo, convenient to get to and free- what a good deal. The poisonous snake and reptile display was particularly interesting, but other than that we decided that looking at animals in cages didn?t appeal to us the same as it did when we were kids. We did however witness a phenomenal musical performance by a one-armed Mexican playing a leaf on the side of the street. We took some video and left him with a generous tip.

We hope to hit Mexico city again on our way back north, we?d like to take in a wrestling match, maybe a soccer game (in the second largest stadium in the world), check out the Zocalo and some of the other historic downtown buildings. We definitely have changed our opinion about this particular mega-metropolis and would also recommend to other travellers to not miss it.


From Sloan on Apr 28th, 2008

Yo Buddy! So glad to catch up on your adventures - Nik and I were really impressed by what we learned about the Mayan, to be honest, *much* more so than what we have seen in S.A. from the Incas. They were incredibly advanced, enjoy the sites! Mexico City sounds great! Will have to go another time!