Mexico City - Distrito Federal, Teotihuacan

Friday August 10
We had enough of the big city and wanted to go to the ruins at Teotihuacan, or as the Mexican's call it - Piramides. The Churchs' book described a route actually from Pepe's to the ruins. We were planning on a short trip with little hassle. Unfortunately for us the Mexican highway department does not provide signage when they close major highways nor inform you of alternate routes. We were able to make it to the pyramides, but to this day we are not sure how.

The pyramids were worth the trouble. The big one, the Pyramid of the Sun, is the third largest in pyramid in the world.

I made it to the top of likely the smallest pyramid in the world (temple of Quetzalcoatl) and was more than terrified to get down. After about what seemed like an hour in the hot midday sun and after weighing all possible options such as a helicopter rescue, I walked down on my butt. I must mention that Ken was up and down this pyramid several times trying to cajole me into going down the stairs.

Once I gained my composure, we decided to take a slightly western route paralleling the Avenue of the Dead, which is the main thoroughfare, to the Pyramid of the Sun. Feeling somewhat brave I went up a third of the way on this pyramid, Ken went to the top and took pictures. Ken says that after the other sights we have seen so far the view was not that spectacular.

Then I insisted we traverse more of the Avenue of the Dead dog tired and go to the end - the Temple of the Moon. By the time we reached that pyramid I was as not as afraid of the height but was extremely tired and so was Ken. We saw some other sights such as a jaguar painted in red. Then we toured the palace of Quetzalpapalotl of which some parts were restored. All along the Avenue of the Dead dog tired were vendors selling their wares for cheap prices. Personally I found it annoying and distracting from the venue at hand. We had taken over five hours to do the pyramid's tour.

We thought we might as well return to Pepe's rather than looking for another campsite further north. Our highway back had been changed as well. Driving through the northern half of Mexico City by compass was a challenge. Without proper maps we stuck to wider roads where the traffic was moving. Hence the saying, "in the right direction at the right speed", a saying Ken would use when ... digestion... was working properly.

Thursday August 9
This will hopefully be the big day when we get to go into the Frieda exhibit. This exhibit gathers together many of Frieda Kahlo's paintings for the 100th anniversary of her birth, 1907 to 2007. The taxi drive downtown was fairly uneventful as I awoke from my mid-morning nap I saw rubber trees lining the streets. Not the size of the potted rubber tree in your living room but shade tree size. Once we arrived at our true to art deco styled destination, Palacio de Bellas Artes, we noticed a different type of line-up. I stood there for a while as Ken went to check if tickets bought yesterday were still valid. Ken returned to take us up to the "already have tickets" line up. We waited inside for only about half an hour before getting into the actual Frieda exhibit. Once into the exhibit it was a perimeter line-up for viewing the work. Very moving exhibit!!! Well worth the hassle of getting into this show. Very world class, superb work with exquisite technical mastery. I feel very lucky that I was able to view such work and so much of it all at one time. We were both exhausted after our three plus hour line-up and art viewing session.

We thought we would again return to the Zocalo. It seemed to hold a weird attraction for us. This time we took a different route through a long street of vendors selling all sorts of weird, usual things.

Once, for example, we saw a man using a treadle sewing machine doing machine thread painting. We took this route go to a vegetable market which was a bust. The candy displayed was made out of sugar from the cactus plants. The candy was alive with bees, ugh! This was a hot and sunny walk we had chosen for our afternoon.

We took a taxi to another artisan market and than the subway to Coyoacan where Frieda had lived out most of her life. Being too late to go to the museum of her home we went and ate at a mall.

This mall had an armed guard at the entry way. No shoplifting here. We took the subway back to Palacio de Bellas Artes and our faithful taxi driver from Tepotzotlan. We had to say so long to Mexico City. There was so much more to experience and see in the biggest city in the world, but honestly it was noisy and crowded with people and vehicles. We wanted to smell fresh air, go to less crowded areas.

Wednesday August 8
We could not drive our car into Mexico City (not that we wanted to) because of "hoy no circula" based on the last number of our license plate. Mexico City has very polluted air. They are trying to do something about it by not allowing certain vehicles into the city on specific days. On the weekend any vehicles can go into the city. We took a taxi into the city that our hotel host called for us in Tepotzotlan. This was a recommendation we were given that you should always take taxis that are called by the hotel not just any old taxi waiting around. It was to cost us 250 pesos, but considering that it would take us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there and we wanted to go right down town, it was a bargain.

We were dropped off at Palacio de Bellas Artes and noticed there was a huge, approximately three block long line up outside the building. Ken bought us tickets to go into the Frieda Kahlo show. Not liking line-ups, we decided to go across the street to Alameda Park and eat our snack hoping the line-up would dissipate. It did not!

We continued on to the Diego Rivera mural museum which really only contained one great mural and some pictures from his life. Line-up check again - line-up worse! Not only did the line-up have people waiting in the hot sun, but also inside, wrapped around the entrance hallway and the stairs - a mass of people.

We decided to walk on to the Zocalo which is the centre of town. I was in complete awe of the size and structure of the buildings that wrapped around this central square. There was a stage set up with music playing in the background. There were many tents set up with vendors. It got really windy and looked like rain so we again headed back to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It did start raining and even hailed. We just hung out in stores looking like we could buy something. The rain thinned out the crowded streets just slightly. Ken wanted to check out different kinds of tequila so we went into a liquor store and discussed tequila. We stumbled upon their version of China town, much smaller than Vancouver's then onto the San Juan Mercado which was a bust, prices were high --- quality low. Food was on our minds and you can't just eat anywhere in Mexico City - back to the Zocala and food vendors. No edible food was discovered so back again to the Palacio de Bellas Artes and our taxi driver, Lazaro, was there waiting for us.

Now you would think this was the end to a busy day - it was not. Our hour and fifteen minutes into the city turned into three hours back to Pepe's. The traffic was the worst I had ever seen. Buses, Semi Trucks and cars all bunched together to form a four to six lane highway of grid lock going north. Oh, and did I mention it was raining, too. With all that traffic and exhaust fumes the driver kept the windows closed and used recirculated air as defrost so the windows kept fogging up.


Antonio said...

I don't think all of Mexico city is stinky; in fact I think the majority of it is a clean place. Sure, there are certain places of the city that are stinky (specially the metro entrances, where street vendors are located); Mexico city is rich in history and good places to visit. As far as I know Delhi, India or LA is worse today in air quality. Mexican officials have made Mexico city a better place to live, talking in terms of environment...

Ken and Donna Zakreski said...

Agreed LA has worse air quality. Mexico City is a great place to visit and we look to go back soon.