Teotihuacan on two hours sleep

7 Jun

Seriously. I went to bed Saturday night and just lay there wide awake most of the night. I finally drifted off sometime around dawn and got up at 7 a.m.

Our tour guide for Teotihuacan was supposed to meet us in the hotel lobby at 8:45, but by 9 am, there was no sign of him. After 15 minutes, I tried calling the tour company from the concierge desk and as I was on the phone, I got a call at the same desk. Our driver couldn’t approach the hotel because the electricity workers were protesting in the Centro Historico zocalo around the block and our street was coned off. So he approached on foot, fetched us, and we headed for a drive out of town to the temple of the sun and the moon. Joining us was a young British businessman from our tour the day before, and a family from Singapore.

The Teotihuacan ruins are quite impressive. The temple of the sun is the largest and located at to the south. The temple of the moon is located to the east. Because it is almost June 21st, the sun at noon was directly over our head. Quite a strange sight for a girl from much further north.

Deborah and I climbed most of the way up the pyramid of the moon. The top section was blocked off due to new excavations. The steps were quite steep, but the view at the top shows the entire stretch of the ruins of what used to be a thriving city.

The way down was as much of a challenge as the way up. It was interesting to watch how each person had their own method of climbing up and down. One poor girl was having a heck of a time in a light, billowy skirt that kept flying up due the updraft of the wind as she climbed down.

The temple of the sun has at least five levels and 258 steps. I took it in sections, sometimes sections of sections, but I made it to the top. Ranks up there with the Eiffel tower second-level hike of five years ago in my epic climbs.

After the ruins, we were taken to an obsidian “factory” where they cut, polish, and carve shapes into the stone, which can appear almost gold in this region of Mexico. We were also given a long but charming lecture on the maguey, a plant in the agave family used to make pulque, which is a hard cider-like drink. The maguey plant is also used to make writing paper, and its spine can be used as a needle with a long fiber from the plant as thread. We were also taught the proper way to take a shot of tequila.

After a quick whirl around the gift shop (all these tours seem to come with a pre-arranged visit to a specific gift shop. The store owners act as mini-tour guides or artisans of local crafts, but you still get the hard sell as part of their schpiel), we had lunch at the restaurant next door, complete with wonderful choices of Mexican dishes and a live mariachi band. At one point, they decided to show us another way to drink tequila. They would pour a bit in a tall shot glass, then pour in carbonated lime juice, cover the glass, slam it against the table a few times, then ask you to drink it down in one swig. After your head was back to accomplish this, they threw a cloth napkin over your eyes so you could savor the flavor.

You can understand that after *that* experience, I was one of the people willing to put on the Mexican bandito costume they hauled out next, complete with a poncho, hat, and rifle. There may be pictures of that, I don’t know. Lots of fun at any rate, and much more what I was imagining in terms of the tour meals.

The tour ended with a visit to the cathedrals of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Very strange, visiting a cathedral as tourists in the middle of a huge worship service that filled the whole sanctuary (smaller services were going on at the other cathedrals I’ve visited, but this was one big room).

As usual, pictures later of all this. Exhausting but fun.

2 Responses to “Teotihuacan on two hours sleep”

  1. cornerofmadness June 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    in spite of that rough start it sounds like a great time. You don’t climb in a skirt (then again I’ve seen idiots trying to go caving in heels)
    yeah to making it to the top of the temple of the sun
    that sounds like a fun way to do tequila, must try that at home

  2. neshaffer June 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I think we might “try that at home” ourselves.

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