Esther and Sebastion, took me to see “the pyramids” at Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City. Along the way I had a good view of the two snow covered volcanoes nearby. Popolcatepetl (Smoking Mountain) is active; his appropriately named companion, Iztaccihuatl (The Sleeping Woman), is not. It is an interesting legend, sort of the Mexican Romeo and Juliet, that you can read about here.
Teotihaucan is a huge archeological site, that the Mexican government has been excavating for 100 years, and they are nowhere near done yet. Dated to 10 BC or before, the city grew to 85,000 people and some 20+ square km at its zenith. Two giant, slant slope pyramids give evidence that the natives here worshiped the sun and the moon and since the main entrance to the city is called de la Avenida de los Muertos, practiced human sacrifice. Climbing to the top is steep; but what a commanding view of the valley and the mountains around. After the Teotihaucan people died off, perhaps due to the practice of the warriors wearing the skin of the people they killed in battle and thus being exposed to their diseases (especially the Europeans), the Aztecs and other native peoples respected the city as a Teotihuacan sacred site (and apparently the Spanish never went there), thus it remains for us to see and wonder about today.
It never ceases to amaze me to see not only the building skills and the understanding of the movement of the sun, moon, and stars, that they could build such structures (without power tools, no less) and align them with perfect precision.
I wonder how the natives, who evidently were shorter than us, managed to run up and down the knee-high steps. The museum is filled with artifacts, murals, sculptures from the temples, and a scale model of the city.
This is a trip well worth making; buses leave regularly from the north terminal. I hear the crowds can be huge so go on a weekday though; not very many people on a winter Tuesday in December. In fact I think the vendors may have outnumbered the visitors this day.
That’s one thing that detracts from the experience, not only here but anywhere in Mexico. Anyone can sell anything almost anywhere, without a permit or any regulation. Vendors try to sell you things, wash your windows, or dust off your car at intersections. People sell any matter of things in the park. Kids beg you to buy gum on the Zocolo (plaza at the town center). You get used to it, don’t make eye contact, and wag your finger a lot.
I really hate the commercialization of the archeological sites though; having someone approach you to try and sell you something every 5 minutes is annoying and interrupts both your conversation and your experience of the ancient site that you are in. I, of course, so obviously a gringo, would not only be approached, but when I shook my finger and said, “No,” emphatically, and kept walking, they would follow me and say, “Almost free.” Pretty funny, the first time.