Day 3: Mexico City to Teotihuacan

I have given up on sleep. It is 6.30 in the morning and I am still suffering reflux from last nights dinner, and have been since 4am. I’m keeping Ruth awake with my tossing and turning so I figured I may as well throw on some clothes and get up. I’m sitting on the couches on the lobby of my floor, which looks over to the reception desk where the day is beginning. I can hear them playing Cumbia down there.

Let me take a moment to mention our hotel. It is centrally located in the historic district so exceedingly close to everything – hence our huge volume of walking yesterday. It includes a delicious buffet breakfast every morning, has a gym, the bed  is amazing and there’s a cafe at the front – hotel patrons get everything free other than alcohol. I am waiting for them to finish priming the coffee machine so I can sample the coffee. There is also an ATM conveniently located in the foyer. It is a bit noisy, both from the street outside, due to everything being open really late here, and the hotel noises in the morning but otherwise it is a fantastic spot! And the service has been absolutely impeccable!

We have both switched to drinking cappucchino, since a Latte is virtually unheard of here. Usually getting to the coffee is through about a quarter cup of foam. This mornings one tastes pretty good though. Always good to know where there is good coffee, especially when its included!

Today we had the hotel book us into a day trip out to Teotihuacan, one of the largest Pyramids outside of Egypt. A lesson for us in blindly taking recommendations and not asking enough questions. We didn’t get to Teotihuacan until 1pm, had nothing to eat until 4pm – which was dreadful – and were dragged around to things we weren’t at all interested in doing.

On our way out to Teotihuacan we stopped off at Tlatelolco, Aztec ruins so close to the city they are surrounded by modern constructions. It is also the site of a mass grave located by archaeologists in 2009, believed to be from the Spanish conquest.

 Tlatelolco, ruins surrounded by Mexico city

My big tip for Teotihuacan is get there early, like this! The sun rises over the Pyramids and it is far less crowded. When we got there the crowd was unlike anything I have ever seen with queues just to get to the climb itself. It took us well over an hour to get through the queue and climb the 243 odd steps and 65m to the top. When we got there we were unable to take a single photo without someone standing in the way! The middle of the day is the hottest part, and the area is completely exposed to the sun. It is less than pleasant to be be waiting and climbing in the full strength of the sun.

Despite this, it was a pretty darn cool experience! The pyramid borders the remains of Aztec city Teotihuacan, long ago abandoned to the elements for reasons no one has ever discovered. From the Pyramid you can see the structure of the city stretching out below.

The Pyramid of the Sun

There are two pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The Pyramid of the Sun is the larger of the two and the one you are able to climb. Parts of the steps are dangerously steep and narrow. It wasn’t hard to imagine us all toppling down like dominoes should someone lose their balance and slip. I held onto the guiderope tightly in some parts going back down.

Those specks you can see…they’re people!

It was insanely crowded at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, everyone jostled for the best position, arms thrust in the air seeking the perfect selfie. We found the next layer down was far less crowded and spent some pleasant time sitting on the edge, with enough space to take clear photos.

Busy = understatement of the century!

Teotihuacan stretches at the foot of the Pyramid of the Sun

The Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun

The Pyramid of the Moon

 

I’m not going to go into detail about the average meal while serenaded by Mariachi singers, nor the stinky workshop where we sampled liqueur made from cactus and Mexican rum. The rum was like rocket fuel but the liqueur actually wasn’t bad.

Rafael carving silver

We also stopped by a silver factory to watch Rafael, who designed the jewellery for the movie Titanic. We each got a design carved in a small piece of silver. I wonder where mine is…

We did meet a lovely kiwi couple on their honeymoon who were great for some laughs. Unfortunately they fly to Cuba tomorrow or we would have caught up with them again. Its amazing how many people I’ve run into who are doing such similar trips to mine.

 

Inside the Basilica

 

Our final, reluctant stop was the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, which stands beside a newly built one.  The original is the oldest church in Mexico. It was the strangest experience walking through it, as I felt I was walking lopsided. The Basilica has a distinct lean. Mexico City sinks a couple of centimetres each year, due to being built on an underground lake. It’s more obvious in some buildings than others but not easy to capture in photographs.

 

You can see the lean on this one.