After getting out of the controlled area of the Mexico City airport, it was 7:45 AM. Waiting to meet me was my tour guide’s daughter and main email contact, Darinka. We took a cab to their agency, and I met Jose, my driver, owner of Royal Tours. We loaded up the town car and drove north, toward the ancient, pre-Inca pyramids at Teotihuacan. First, we stopped at a little place nearby with a restaurant and a native craft display. It was also an excellent place for a siesta. I know I should not be sleeping on a tour, but I had to. I was exhausted. I’d had two hours of sleep on the plane, and the night before that I’d been up half the night from bad food in Lima. Bless Jose because he let me sleep for two hours. I probably missed the anthropology museum because of it, but I was thrilled to have the rest. Honestly, I don’t think I could have stayed awake for anything at that point. A town car is a lot more comfortable than the AeroMexico plane, by the way.
So, what did we see? At the native craft hacienda, I saw agave used at least five different ways, as fiber, as juice, as a sewing needle, as thread, and as paper. Talk about versatile. They showed me the local minerals, beautiful quartz and obsidian, and how they carve it. I tried one-day-fermented agave juice, which was very good, and genuine agave tequila (no fortification alcohol added). It was muy suave. From there, we went to see the pyramids at Teotihuacan. These were built by a pre-Aztec society and it is unknown which one. It seems to have existed from 200 BC until about 700 AD. The Aztecs rediscovered it, and unburied it. There were several original paintings, inside the temples. The people of this civilization built successively, that is, when they first started they built one platform, and as time went on, they simply built another great platform on top. They did that repeatedly until the temple platforms were on top of pyramids. Archeologists have tunneled into at least one of these and we were able to go in and have a look. That’s where we saw original temple paintings – very cool. Afterwards, I climbed up the Temple of the Moon. Lots of steps, but not as many as the temple of the sun, and what a view it was! These people were great astronomers and were very interested in the alignment of Venus, the Earth and the Sun, tracking solstices and equinoxes. You can read more about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teotihuacan . I could imagine what it might have been like to live there, or to exist in that time.
We had a great lunch afterward back at the native craft place – they had excellent tacos and a sublime orange agua fresco made with safe water. We got on the road after that to go to the center of Mexico City. On our way there, we went past several farms, including a cactus farm (prickly pears and their oval leaves are a big part of Mexican cooking). We hit some traffic and then got into the city. Hurrying along, we got to the home of the President and were able to see Diego Rivera’s famous murals. He painted about the history of Mexico, and the sorrows of colonization and the exploitation of the people. Rivera was a Marxist. The colors were bright and true, and the placement of the symbols and the subjects was clever. I was lucky to be able to see it as Jose asked the guard to let us in even though it was close to closing time. Another thing he was able to talk us into was a convent that was closed for restoration. It was such a beautiful space. I could imagine that maybe some women might join up just to live there. It was so peaceful and inspiring.
From there, we went to the metropolitan cathedral, the largest in all of Latin America. There were Aztec dancers in the main square outside near Aztec ruins right by the cathedral. The cathedral seemed to go on and on. Inside, it had two organs and a vast wall behind the alter covered in gold leaf and oil paintings. It is an active church, with many parishioners praying, lighting candles and leaving pinned prayers with the virgin Mary. It was six o’clock and getting toward the end of the tour. We went to the House of Tiles for cake and cappuccino. This house used to be a noble’s private home, and parts of it look like a French salon. The cakes were very good. Then, it was time to go to the airport. I liked Mexico City: good people, good food. Sadly there’s a lot of corruption. I hope Mexico will be able to solve its problems.
Back to the airport for a quick recheck of baggage, and then, on to LAX. I cannot believe I am going home. I have missed it so much. I am elated to be almost home. Just one more luggage argument away!