The Image of Nuesta Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, an image that is repeated all over Mexico (as well as Chicago)
My second full day in Mexico City was also spent walking, again with Urban Adventures‘ House of God: Shrine of Guadalupe and the Pyramids of Mexico City. I was incredibly fortunate to schedule this tour on this particular Saturday: I was the only one in the tour, it was practically a personal private tour of two of the holiest sites in Mexico.
My guide was Alfonso Gomez, another incredibly passionate and knowledgeable individual that Urban Adventure is known for so far as guides are concerned. We bonded right away because of our similar ages. As soon as he saw me in the lobby of my hotel, he said, you’re 61? I’m 63! As it turns out, he is a retired engineer enjoying his retirement as a freelance tour guide with Urban Adventures. He was very organized (he’s an engineer!) carrying with him some visuals, basically a book that he organized himself, and sometimes offered an alternative history (basically a native’s point of view) of the places we visited.
Our itinerary went this way: from the hotel, we walked to the subway to catch the train to the Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe (Basilica Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) and national shrine in the northern part of Mexico City. The shrine is a complex of several churches and chapels and other buildings and is basically considered a holy site in Mexico because this is where, it is said, that the Virgin Mary appeared several times to a native peasant named Diego.
Then, we took another subway to a bus station to take a bus to a town called San Juan Teotihuacan about 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Mexico City. The municipality is where the ancient Mesoamerican pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacan, famous for some of the colossal pyramids pre-Hispanic Mexico is known for. This is another philosophy of Urban Adventures that I like: tours embrace the philosophy of “do what locals do,” so, as much as possible, their tours include riding public transportation, to experience part of locals’ everyday lives. After a short lunch (tamales) in the bus station and a pleasant 1 – 1 1/2 hour ride through the suburbs of Mexico City and the country-side, I experienced the most anticipated highlight of the trip: the breath-taking ancient ruins of one of the glorious civilizations of the Americas – the ruins of ancient Teotihuacan, the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas and the 6th largest city in the world during its period. The civilization existed from about 250 BC and may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, pre dating the Aztecs (of Templo Mayor visited in day 1 of my trip). The site covers a total surface area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi) and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
From ruins, we then walked to the town to drop by a private residence that had a small obsidian carving business. There I was treated to three different alcoholic drinks – pulque, mezcal and tequila. Arriba, abajo, adentro! After here, we then took a local taxi service to another private residence to finish off the day – a humble family style dinner of chicken cooked traditionally – wrapped in foil together with cactus and maguey.
Altogether, I walked about 6.1 miles, 16,956 steps and climbed 32 floors on this walk.
Here are pictures of part 1 of the trip: The Basilica of Guadalupe and national shrine.