Two big days and more new friends
Our visit to the ancient city--Teotihuacan
Taking a page from the Canadian travel bloggers Feather and Wind, we set out to discover the pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacan on our own. That meant getting up early (our plan was 6:30) to beat rush hour on the Metro, change stations and catch the 9:00 a.m. bus to the site. Unfortunately, we still had no phone to set an alarm, so we set the computer. That system is pretty unreliable. It worked one morning, but not this one! Rising at 7:15, we scrambled out the door and did a forced march to the Metro. Long story short, we caught the 9:15 bus and arrived in Teotihuacan at 10:30. Perfect!
After purchasing a map and "guide" in English, we set off for the temple of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god who loved humans. This temple retains some beautiful images of the god and is still under excavation. I'm not going to attempt to describe everything we saw. For me, the awe of the day was trying to picture in every location, how it would have been to be a citizen here in 500 BC. "At its apogee (c. 500 AD), it encompassed some 8 square miles (20 square km) and supported a population estimated at 125,000–200,000, making it, at the time, one of the largest cities in the world. When all of the beautiful red and green paint was intact, and the beautiful carving and stonework was undamaged by time, it must have been a resplendent city. Imagine, how impressive the priests were on the temples of the son and the moon, where no ordinary citizen could go.
The temples of the moon, the sun and the temple of Quetzalcoatl are the major attractions. After we climbed the smallest of the three, we wandered undisturbed through the ruins under excavation. So much remains covered by time. It's easy to see how that happens when you see green plants growing out of freshly excavated ruins.
Surrounded by the ruins, we enjoyed the sandwiches I made for lunch, the only cooking I did in Mexico City. It was peaceful. With the mesquite trees and cactus, we felt quite at home. More exploring after lunch. Check out the little boy who scrambled through the tunnel in one of the buildings.
After our grand tour of Teotihuacan, we crawled through a fence across the road and found cold cerveza for the wait for the bus to return. An interesting event occured on the bus ride. A Mexican federal policeman came on board and filmed all of the passengers. He had a discussion with some people in the back of the bus and then disembarked. No, I did not take a picture of him filming us...All in all, we were delighted with our day.
Xochimilco and the Floating Gardens
In spite of the touristy nature attributed to Xochimilco, we embarked on our journey to find the floating gardens. Of course, these gardens do not float, the boats float, and there are gardens, although we didn't visit any. It was a day of multiple forms of transportation--the Metro, the Light Rail, a pedicab and a boat, amazingly all happening without a hitch.
Finding a ride on one of the brightly colored boats requires haggling and conviction. We had begun negotiating and walked away, when we bumped into another couple looking for a ride. They had read a blog and were motivated to get a good deal. We agreed on what we wanted and my Spanish took over. Again we walked away but this time the boat captain came after us with a deal we liked. So, I followed David, Adele and Paul across boat after boat until we came to ours. It was an hour and a half of relaxation and amusement combined as we glided past boats of mariachis looking for a gig, merchants selling food, drink, even pulque, (a fermented liquor made from the maguey plant), flower crowns, serapes and more. I sampled the ubiquitous street treat of corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise and dusted with cotija cheese. We even found a boat named Karen. I remember my mom and I buying blankets in Xochimilco when we visited together in the 80's. Wish I had a picture of that day!
We found David and Adele to be delightful Canadians, with whom we have much in common. They were staying about six blocks from us in Coyoacan, they love to travel and prefer to stay off the beaten path. After our delightful float, together we headed to see the market and to score a tortilla press for Adele. All markets are different. This one had a strong focus on paper mache figures. We saw live chickens and their parts and joked about taking one home as a pet, and then serving it for dinner. Paul was offered a taste of beef tongue, I bought chicharrones (crackling pork skin) for everyone to taste, and we discovered a tortilla press in a hardware shop. Finally, we found beers, harder than it sounds that day, in a place where we could sit and enjoy each others' company. Then, the reverse travel back to Coyoacan with our new friends.
More to come in Mexico City
Since Xochimilco, we completed our stay in Mexico City and headed to the beach. I will be chronicling our last days in the great city soon. Hope you are enjoying our vagabond lifestyle.