Walking in the City of the Gods

My original plan for this summer was to take a trip to Egypt to see the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. 9/11 changed that for me. I decided instead to do the next best thing and visit the largest pyramid outside he Giza plateau.

A little background is in order here. When looking for a hotel to stay at for my trip, I found a great place that was part of the club med chain called The Archeological Villa Of Teotihuacan. I wrote them and they told me it would cost approx $700 a night to stay there. Little did I know at the time that the peso sign was equivalent to the dollar sign. Instead I stayed at the Marquis Reforma.

This is a wonderful hotel. The staff was incredibly pleasant and they all spoke English superbly. I would have to say that both Jill and I found it to be excellent. Here is a pretty good picture of what our suite was like

We arrived at the hotel on Friday night around 9:00 pm local time. After getting a nice tour and our help with the luggage in the room, I went down to the Concierge desk to make arrangements to be taken to Teotihuacan in the morning. I was informed that this would cost about $125. Now I thought this was a bit pricey but I did not fly all the way to Mexico City to miss out on going to Teotihuacan so I said OK. We called the driver and made arrangements to be picked up at 6:00 am in front of the hotel. Weather predicted rain by 10:00 am, so I hoped that 3 hours in the city would be enough to see most of it.

Our driver was named Paco and because of a miscommunication, I did not realize until we got to the sight that he was not a driver but our own personal tour guide of Teotihuacan. Now, I would not have requested this, but it was great. Paco had a great sense of humor, was really knowledgeable about the city, and really made the trip better. I learned far more than I would have otherwise and was taken places I would have missed as they were a bit off the obvious path.

Here is a map of Teotihuacan

Our first stop in Teotihuacan was at The Ciudadela or The Citadel. Here is a the first picture I took. On the far right, you can see Jill and Paco walking to the Citadel. This is a large enclosed plaza with walls/mini-pyramids surrounding it. On the East, there are two small pyramids, The one in plane sight when entering The Citadel is the Andosada Platform. Behind it is the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. This is the most adorned pyramid at Teotihuacan with carvings of Tlaloc, the god of water and agriculture and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god. Here are some pictures of this pyramid:

The following are miscellaneous pictures of the citadel:

After the Citadel, we went to a small workshop/gift shop where they made obsidian tools, replicas. The Teotihuacans lived in the stone ages and they used the volcanic glass, obsidian, for their tools and weapons. It was fairly a fairly interesting side trip but we did not buy anything nor did we stay long.

Next, we went to some dwellings outside the perimeter of the Avenue of the Dead. A priest of Tlaloc once occupied one dwelling, in particular. There were several frescos in this dwelling:

Before we left this area, Jill posed from this picture.

Our next stop was a temple just north of the Pyramid of the Moon. There were several other interesting pieces of architecture there and several other frescos:

Finally, we started to climb pyramids. Here is a picture taken just before we got to the Pyramid of the Moon. At this point our guide Paco left us and we went to climb the Pyramid of the Moon. To say that the first set of steps were steep is to understate the meaning of steep. They were quite fun to climb. The next two levels were easy in comparison. The final level has not been restored and they must be scrambled up. Jill decided not to climb the last section. I did. I took a picture from the top, but the camera was really low on the battery life. The shot was overexposed and I threw it away. Also, at some point in this climb, my camera got set back to macro mode so the remaining pictures are slightly blurry.

On the way down from the Pyramid of the Moon, I knew two things had to happen. First, I had to get some water. I was beginning to get dehydrated. Second, I needed to find more batteries for my camera. I think I should also point out that the climb down of the last set of stairs from the top is even more challenging than the way up. If you go to Teotihuacan, please use caution on your way down.

Jill and I walked down the Avenue of the Dead toward the Pyramid of the Sun in order to walk to the parking lot where we would meet Paco in just over an hour. We believed that if we went towards the parking lot, we would come across shops that had batteries and water. On our way there, three 12-14 year old Mexican girls who wanted to ask us questions in English for school stopped us. It was kind of fun to answer their questions and they took our picture with them for their assignment. I would have done the same for the web page, but my camera was not working.

When we got near the parking lot, we did find a place that sold water and a place that had batteries. We drank on the way back towards the Pyramid of the Sun. I was beginning to get my second wind, but I had forgotten sunscreen so I knew the climb of this pyramid would be my last for the day.

The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world and the largest pyramid outside of the Giza plateau in Egypt. While it is quite a bit taller than the Pyramid of the Moon, it is a much easier climb. There are slightly steeper parts to this pyramid, but it is few and far between.

The following pictures were taken on the climb up and down the Pyramid of The Sun:

Once down from the Pyramid of the Sun, we headed for the parking lot and waited for Paco. He arrived shortly and we went back to the hotel for the day. I definitely had a sunburn and Jill and I were tired. Jill slept from the time we got back to the hotel until 8:00 pm and I slept from 8:00 until morning.

The trip ended with an early drive to the airport, by Paco again. All in all, I will have to say that of all the places I have gone for a single day, this has been the most interesting. I highly recommend this as a vacation spot.