Tuesday, 20 February 2007, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuarto
We arrived in San Miguel de Allende on Sunday and have had our first Spanish lesson this morning. So, before the last week fades from memory I shall attempt to describe the highlights and interesting experiences of Teotihuacán and Mexico City.
We left Cholula on Tuesday on our way to our third ruin site in Mexico. Teotihuacán is in the state of Mexico and less than 50 kilometres from Mexico City. The trip from Cholula was relatively uneventful as we only got lost twice - going through towns, where the signposting was less helpful than we would have liked. But we asked the right person in the second town - I asked him how to get to the next town and he walked past me over to the truck and started describing to Juergen in great detail (and great English) just where to go. I didn't even get offended that he ignored me, I was just grateful for the help. While in Puebla we had bought the Guia Roji road atlas, which was supposed to help us avoid getting lost, but unfortunately even the best road atlas will only show where the towns are, not all the streets in them.
On the way we saw our largest tope so far - it was one of the previously mentioned 'vibradores' and was so wide that most normal sized vehicles could have front and back wheels on it at the same time! Also, for quite a while driving north from Puebla we had a clear view of the volcanoes again, almost as good as we had seen the day before. Our new road atlas showed us a toll road for part of the 136 between Tlaxcala and Calpulalpan. When we arrived at that particular stretch of 'highway', and I use the term loosely, we discovered that the publishing house had got quite a bit ahead of itself because we found ourselves in the midst of a traffic jam caused by massive road works. It was certainly possible to recognise that great plans for a major highway were afoot, but I guess there will be one, if not two, new road atlases on sale before it's finished. As we were getting closer to our destination we saw cactus farms. It seemed quite strange because I always imagine that cactus grows when and where it will. I have of course seen it in planned gardens, but until I had seen the nopal cactus leaf pads for sale as a vegetable, it had never occurred to me that they were actually useful enough to farm. Of course, making that statement I am completely ignoring the whole tequila industry. I guess I am just trying to make the point that we carry many preconceptions about things with us, and travelling in this country is confronting them on a daily basis.
We arrived in San Juan Teotihuacán early in the afternoon and caught our first sight of the huge pyramid of the sun from the outskirts of the town. The campground - Teotihuacán Trailer Park - was easy to find and almost empty. There was one other truck with a camper shell, but it looked so dilapidated that at first we thought it might belong to one of the workers! We settled in beside our camper and just relaxed for the rest of the day. Later a man came through the gate and walked towards us - he was the owner of the truck and also an Australian, named Glen. He has spent the last 14 months travelling all the way to the tip of South America and back. We spent a long time talking that evening and he passed on some useful information and practical help over the next couple of days. The campground is right next to a church whose bell rings every hour through the night and begins calling people to mass at 6.00 in the mornings. Sleep is a cherished commodity in this country as there doesn't seem to be much of it - music and fireworks into the night and church bells early in the morning!
On Wednesday we went to the Teotihuacán site. It is a huge site with a lot to see. We spent a good 3 hours there and didn't climb either the Pyramid of the Sun or the Pyramid of the Moon. One of our favourite places was an area on the western side which has been excavated underground. It is possible to walk through actual rooms and see the remains of murals on the walls. This area is called Edificios Superpuestos, which means superimposed buildings, because it is actually the remains of two temples built on top of older temples which had been filled in, preserving them. The other really stunning part that we saw is the Palacio de Quetzalpapalotl (palace of the quetzal butterfly) which has the most amazing carved stone columns. I can't really say this was the most amazing ruin so far, because they have all been incredibly interesting for different reasons, but it is certainly awe-inspiring, as they have all been.
Continuation on > Page 2 > !