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Ceiling in the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

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Bonnie and I atop the Pyramid of the Moon; Pyramid of the Sun in the left background.

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Plaza of the Pyramid of the Moon.

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Panorama from east to west from atop the Pyramid of the Moon.

 

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Conifer-Hunting in Mexico

Day 18: Monday, February 21

Today we started with another fine breakfast at our hotel and then wandered over a block to the Hostel Catedral, which is where I would stay if we weren't traveling on a luxury budget, and here we met our tour bus to Teotihuacan. Actually we met a minibus and had a half-hour drive to the maxi-bus, during which we got to know some of our fellow tourists, including some very engaging and interesting people–a man from Barbados, a Cal-Mex couple from LA, a Chinese family from LA, and a Hispanic family from NYC. The maxi-bus was a typically comfortable first-class bus. The tour took us to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which we were told is the third-largest attraction in the Catholic world, after St. Peter's in Rome and Lourdes in France. The miracle is a color image of the Virgin that was imposed on a man's tunic while a bunch of roses were wrapped in it, in 1540 or thereabouts. We saw the miraculous cloth, and indeed it is a fine image. We saw it while standing on one of four horizontal moving walkways that carry the crowds beneath the image at what I presume to be a Vatican-approved pace. We then reboarded the bus and continued to Teotihuacan.

We first stopped at an outlying obsidian workshop. Here artisans continue one of Teotihuacan's most traditional of arts, the working of local obsidian deposits into art objects. Here we bought our big Mexico souvenir, spending 3000 pesos on a mascara ceremonial Teotihuacana of obsidian ornamented with tiger's-eye and sodalite.

We all piled back on the bus and proceeded to the south end of the site (the central site at Teotihuacan is huge, over 5 km long) and visited the Quetzalcoatl Temple site. It was a quick visit but there actually isn't much to see. The whole Teotihuacan site is difficult to interpret for two reasons. First, as elsewhere at many sites (including Monte Alban), much–usually most–of what you see is a modern reconstruction of what the archeologists thought the site should look like, and may or may not be accurate. Second, we know almost nothing about the Teotihuacanos as they left no writing and their site was destroyed–burned and razed–at the end. So it is one of the largest ruins left anywhere in the world where we know so little about the builders.

Anyway, back on the bus and north to the main site, where they gave us about 90 minutes to see the Pyramid of the Sun and of the Moon (translations of their Aztec names), and such other attractions as were in the area. Bonnie and I climbed the Pyramid of the Moon and visited the Palace of the Quetzal Butterfly, and just walked by the Pyramid of the Sun, and then we had to go. It was a very popular site; I'd say there were several hundred other tourists wandering the site with us. I could have spent a bit more time there than the tour allowed, but one can really spend only so much time at these sites before becoming, as we say, “ruined.”

Then they fed us an unappetizing, expensive lunch during which we were serenaded by two badly off-key guitarists. This was probably our least pleasant Mexican experience that did not involve traffic jams. After that came a long but uneventful–restful, even–ride back to our hotel. No one was hungry. Bonnie and I took a stroll around the Zocalo and found, at last, the only time of the whole trip, some real Mexican hot chocolate. Seven pesos per cup, and delicious, from a street vendor. After that we were early to bed.

Continue to Day 19

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Last Modified 2010-12-18