Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Sky's Gone Out

Wednesday was the official Día de Muertos so most people didn't have to work. We chose that day to head to Teotihuacán which is easily one of my favorite places in the world. It is unbelievably cool.

For many years after my initial visit there I would get so annoyed with people who believed the only ancient cool pyramids in the world were in Egypt. I was very partial to Mexico's pyramids. Then I went to Egypt and discovered that their pyramids were equally cool – just in different ways. Whereas Egyptian pyramids were tombs for pharaohs, pyramids of the Toltecas, Aztecas and Maya were temples to their gods. In fact, a recent discovery at Teotihuacán said that the Pyramid of the Sun was more likely dedicated to Tlaloc, the Rain God.

I was amused to find that while looking for links that each website said something different about Tlaloc. One said he was "benevolent" who only released floods and lightning when angered. Another one said that he's "not nice." Personally, he's my favorite of the Aztec/Toltec gods, but mainly because I think his statue (see above) is cute.

We climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun (or as I like to think of it Tlaloc's Pyramid) and although it wasn't as bad as I remembered it, it was still a bit of hike. The steps are narrow and high (theoretically, to force a supplicant's pose – damn hard to climb that puppy standing completely upright) and with the altitude, the air is a tad thin.

I found that slow and steady won the race (thanks, Tortoise). This time I noticed that you could walk all the way around the pyramid at two different levels, so we did that.

On the second highest tier, we came across this group of people doing some sort of religious ceremony. They were chanting something about blood as we walked past. I had held off walking past them for a few moments to give them a little privacy, but when it went on and on and on, I decided not to wait any longer.

And here we are on the top (all the people behind us were kneeling at this tiny shiny bit of rock set into what I assume was the very center of the pyramid top and putting their thumb on it. They believed it would give them energy.

When I was there last you couldn't climb the Pyramid of the Moon, but this time it was open.

Unfortunately, once again due to a late start, we didn't have time to do it or get to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (which really bummed me out) as we had to be home by 3:00 p.m. for dinner. We were late for dinner too, as we had to stop in the nearest town to Teotihuacán to buy tortillas. There were apparently none to be found in Mexico City!

I did see parts of Teotihuacán that I hadn't seen before:

I took these as Mom had to use the restroom (you can see her in the picture). She was wondering where they came from when she had them developed, even though I had told her that I took some.

Dinner was a family affair that evening with ME's brothers joining us. Tio Alfonso was hysterical claiming to be this world traveler and how he only does such-and-such when he's in England or this-and-that when he's in New York. The girls were giggling at him and telling me that he had never been out of Mexico in his life. There was lots of meat involved in dinner that night (lamb and chicken and pork), but ME was always very good (after the first night – I'm positive the lasagna had chicken in it, but I didn't make a fuss and ate around it once I figured it out – so, yes, people, meat passed these lips w/in the past month – deal with it) to have something vegetarian for me. In fact, most nights there was way too much food on my plate.

Thursday was spent at the Museo Nacional de Antropología

where I got to see Tlaloc as that's where he resides these days.

It was a highlight – because I'm a complete Mexico History Geek. Mom got to see the Aztec Calendar/Sun Stone which made her happy. The picture of her with the Sun Stone didn't turn out as I hate her camera (I'm talking to the siblings about getting her a digital camera for Christmas as she kept forgetting film in the car or her other bag or whathaveyou) and the picture was way blurry.

Thursday evening we had dinner at La Parrilla Suiza where my Mom had eaten when she was there in 1977 for ME and J's wedding. I got the newly introduced Vegetarian Meal which included nopalitos (cactus), white cheese (kind of mozzarella-ish), mushrooms and onions all grilled. It was a ton of food, which I didn't finish, but all quite yummy.

Weekend and Monday will come next - I think I have too many pics in this entry because it wouldn't take another one.

Mr. Schprock - I'm thinking you had been in Tijuana. I've never been but I understand it's a complete pit! I think that would be like judging the U.S. by going to El Paso (not that I've been other than the airport, but I know someone who had a job interview and he pretty much said it was the armpit of the U.S.).


At Thursday, 01 December, 2005, Blogger mr. schprock said...

Awesome tour you're taking us on, Kathleen! This is the Mexico I want to see. I'll find out the name of the town we visited from my wife — it definitely wasn't Tijuana, we already knew it would be too trashy. Our guide was a friend of ours from a Mexican family who grew up in San Diego. The town was really kind of nice, a bit touristy perhaps, but there were beggars everywhere, some of whom wouldn't leave us alone.

At Thursday, 01 December, 2005, Blogger GoingLoopy said...

El Paso could be's sort of pretty, at least when the sun is setting. I think the armpit of the world is somewhere in the midwest. The grilled veggie thing sounds yummy.

At Friday, 02 December, 2005, Blogger Jason said...

I'll vote for Atlantic City as armpit of the world.

At Friday, 02 December, 2005, Blogger Scott said...

I can't believe Mexico is so beautiful. The pictures and the impression I have is of a trashed out impoverished country. These photos show a whole different story. I'm really fascinated by the pyramids.

At Friday, 02 December, 2005, Blogger Kathleen said...

Mr. Schprock - Get thee to Mexico City and Guadalajara. Tons of cool 16th century buildings and ancient history. Of course, my love of Mexico is helped by having family down there who make sure we know where not to go and also not to get into taxis.

Loopy - Grilled veggies are always yummy.

Jason - Never been east (other than Niagara Falls, NY for about an hour). I thought they had improved their reputation.

Scott - Trust me there is both the beauty and the poor parts. But it's really no different than the States in that regard. There are incredibly dangerous and bad parts of San Francisco, but you never hear about them because it's bad for tourism. Whereas Detroit has nice areas, but you'd never know that because who wants to hear good things about Detroit? I find the whole ancient culture of Latin America to be fascinating!!!


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