Throwback to summer of 2018. I was playing around some travel sites and found a very cheap deal for a few days vacation in Mexico. Having not travel abroad for more than ten years, it occurred to me that it was time. It was time to me to lift this shroud of haziness and cast my grief of Ron’s passing to the wind and travel alone abroad.
The 14-day tour of Mexico that I saw was a bus tour of several cities including the Mayan Rivera with an excursion to Guatemala, I decided that I would do my own itinerary because (1) I have been to the Mayan Rivera and (2) I don’t think I would be able to rough it up any longer, riding buses and sleeping in tents. So I proceeded to map out a plan of flying to Mexico City (which I wanted to go to since I read about the Aztec artefacts they found in the city while excavating for a building) and go from there. It turned out to be a wise decision – it was so much cheaper than the travel site and I was able to get a really good deal with a 3-star hotel situated right in the historic district of Ciudad de Mexico.
My first day was incredible – I took a walking tour of the historical center with a small-group tour called “Urban Adventures” that culminated in a tour of one of the markets in the city and lunch featuring traditional Aztec food. I loved the guide and the group I was with (two other Americans) that I booked another tour the next day – to see the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan at the outskirts of the city.
This was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Mexico this time around. Friends were like chiding me why I was going to Mexico – that it was dangerous blah blah blah – but I didn’t care. There is danger anywhere when you are a tourist, you just need to be careful.
The trip to Teotihuacan was special – I was the only client for the day (!) and had an extra side tour – visiting the Guadalupe Basilica and Shrine that houses the cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a very important religious artifact for Mexican Catholics and other Catholics around the world. I see the virgin iconography all over the Pilsen community in Chicago and there is even a national shrine in Des Planes, IL which I haven’t been to. I should.
The tour of the Guadalupe Shrine and Basilica will be a subject of another retrospective.
But on to Teotihuacan.
The guide was my age, so we had many things in common to talk about.
From history.com: “Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of modern-day Mexico City. The city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, was settled as early as 400 B.C. and became the most powerful and influential city in the region by 400 A.D. By the time the Aztecs found the city in the 1400s and named it Teotihuacan (meaning “the place where the gods were created”), the city had been abandoned for centuries. Teotihuacan’s origins, history, and culture largely remain a mystery.”
There are several prominent structures in the complex: Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and the Avenue of the Dead. The two pyramids are the classic ancient Mexican pyramids that we see represented in movies, with steep stairs going up to the sky. The largest of the two is the Pyramid of the Sun. The Avenue of the Dead is a long, wide avenue that connects the two pyramids.
Little is known about the people who inhabited Teotihuacan, they were there even before the Aztecs, apparently. As one of the most powerful cultural centers in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan extended its cultural and artistic influence throughout the region, and even beyond. It was the largest city anywhere in the Western Hemisphere before the 1400s with a population of 100,000 upwards.
I was able to climb the smaller Pyramid of the Moon up to the level where it is permitted – with right blind eye and gouty left foot. The climb was steep but there was a railing that one could hold on to. I only managed to climb up to the first level of the Pyramid of the Sun. It is a very steep climb with no railing. I literally crawled my way down (actually my butt did all the climbing) – I saw others doing the same thing too, one big guy said he was suffering from vertigo so he copied what I was doing.
After the climb, my guide took me to a local artist who specializes in obsidian sculpture and then to a house serving local food for lunch.