Central American Adventure

Ashes and Snow to Sunny Pyramids

  • April 13, 2008

From the window, the urban sprawl of Mexico City appears through the dense cloud. It is not a rain cloud that we break through, but thick pollution. Welcome to Mexico City, the largest city in the world. The wheels screech as the pilot seems to forget that this is a million dollar piece of equipment. I remove the wheel arch from beneath my seat and make my was down the jet way. After the 11 hour layover in Lima Peru and the 6 hour flight, it was nice to finally stretch my legs. The memory of the last two hours of our flight came flooding back as I remind myself to write a politely worded email to Lan Peru. Unsure how to word the email, the starting sentence keeps flashing before my eyes, “Dear Lan Peru, Thank you very much you bastards for giving me food poisoning and making me throw up for two hours solid before landing in Mexico”. Maybe I should just sit on that email for a while. Lan Peru are a subsidiary of Lan Chile, which is probably one of the best airlines I have ever flown, I am not sure what has happened when Lan Chile purchased Lan Peru, however to put it into perspective, it would be like riding an Arab horse then climbing straight onto a three legged donkey. To say that Lan Chile is the Arab horse of South American Airlines and Lan Peru is the Ass of the company is probably the best comparison I can make.

Why hello there

We cleared customs painfully slow, however, one eye always seemed to be looking for the nearest pot plant or toilet to finish enjoying the gift that keeps on giving from Lan Peru. The idle time that I had whilst standing in the custom line got me thinking about airline food, my conclusion was that the most interesting thing about Lan Peru’s menu, is that the food tastes exactly the same coming up as what it did going down. Making our way into the arrivals hall, we assumed that our pick-up had long since left due to the extended delay of our flight departure from Lima so we flagged down the first available taxi to our hostel. When we arrived, our host was still at the airport waiting for us, but as soon as he realised that we had made it to the hostel, he returned with all haste. Due to the early hour, we would have to wait for our room, but we decided that we would get some food for Jayde, and although I was still quite green, for myself as well. We made our way into the city centre by foot and found a nice café to eat at. It was not time to hang our Spanish hat up yet, as nobody spoke any English we had to make do again. Nothing lost in translation, we settled down for a fantastic meal which I was able to keep down as we meandered through the many acres of park land in central Mexico City.

A lesson that many cities in the world could learn from about Mexico City, is that on a Sunday, all of the government funded tourist attractions are open to the general public, FREE!!! I believe the main goal of this is to encourage family outings outside. It seemed that today we were extremely lucky as it was a Sunday, and there was also a festival going on. As we waddled through the park (due to my Lan Peru induced ailment) we sat beside the many ponds and watched the locals at play. As they paddled their boats in a suicidal manner attempting to overturn their friends it was hard not to have a smile on ones face.

Leaving the pond, we made our way to the zoo, as we watched the locals pour through the gates due to the free entry, we decided that when in Rome, or in this case Mexico City do as the locals do. On the tip of a tidal wave of people we were spat out the other side of the entry gates to the zoo and quickly made our way into the many path ways that led through the Labyrinth that is the Mexico City zoo. On our journey we saw again many of the animals that we have seen on our journey and many that we wished we had. However, unfortunate, I do not believe that an African Elephant or a Giraffe is native to the Amazon jungle. Perhaps our next trip then would be to see these animals in the wild. Hmmm Africa next, we will have to look into that one….

Finishing up at the zoo, it was time to replenish our energy, and what better way than with fairy floss. Purchasing a fairy floss that was bigger than an exercise ball, it was apparent that after this much sugar we would need an exercise ball to burn off all the calories. It seems that looks are deceiving, and as Jayde took some of the fairy floss, this fairy floss look better from a distance. Shrugging it off, we quickly, if not painfully devoured the remaining kilo of sugar which was quickly polished off with 2 litres of water to wash the taste away. Next it was off to the History Museum where we would learn all about the Mexican history and the relationship with their surrounding countries. Although it was interesting, I would have to say that I am glad that my peso’s stayed in my pocket. Now how would I be able to return the fairy floss. Although the history of Mexico was not terribly stimulating, we did manage to find an exhibition on the history of Budism that the museum was sponsoring which with our trips through Asia found extremely interesting. Also the museum itself was positioned on the peak of a hill which provided a perfect vantage point to view the city in all it’s glory. Tomorrow we would dig out our expedition clothes and go temple hunting again.

The subway is around here somewhere

Becoming an expert in foreign sub-ways should be a valid key skill on any international travellers resume. It is a pure display of endurance, level-headedness, memorisation and tacked. To be able to look at a board of colourful lines and translate this into a strategy for the next 20 to 30 minutes is a feat in itself. We boarded the subway and made our way to the bus station for our first big excursion since South America, today we would be going to Teotihuacán was one of the largest cities in Central America, however today it is more ruins than a city.

Restoration is an ongoing exercise here

View from the Pyramid of the Sun to the Pyramid of the Moon

Many archaeologists over the years have come here with various grants to restore some aspects of the city to it’s former glory. Two of these are the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon. The Pyramid of the moon is surrounded by some 15 monumental pyramids that stand guard around a huge courtyard.

Just one of the views at Teotihuacán

As you stare from the viewing platform from the Pyramid of the Moon, it is hard not to be impressed as the Avenue of the Dead disappears into the distance. To the left of the Avenue of the Dead the Pyramid of the Sun clearly demonstrates the amazing strength and determination of the Teotihuacano civilization. From the top of the Pyramid of the Sun we took a moment to appreciate the unbelievable views that the pyramid provided of the city and took some solace as we brought the Incas back to the Mayan civilisation

The Incas have returned.

Returning back to the city, we realised how much we had missed to our gracious hosts, whom were so insistent that we speak Spanish to them and would ignore us until we phrased our request with the appropriate Spanish grammar. Not that we could really fault them as we had gotten very lazy whilst we were travelling through Peru. We had the distinct feeling that we were missing some critical part of the city that was yet to be discovered. Always on the hunt for another adventure, we made our way yet again via the subway to the colonial area of the city.

I am unsure if it is just our luck, but yet again we found ourselves in the midst of a political protest about what I can only assume was work rights. Thinking that a certain Australian political party members had fled to Mexico during a certain recent election when they realised that the boat was sinking, we hastily made our exits from the main square as the riot police were gearing up. It was here that we made a most extraordinary find. What we found was a Nomadic Museum housing an exhibition by Gregory Colbert called “Ashes and Snow”. Some may ask what a Nomadic Museum is. Well simply put, it is a bunch of shipping containers placed around an exhibition and made really fancy by bamboo and water features inside with a roof to protect the paintings. The shipping containers that make the structure also hold the exhibition so basically the museum can be taken to any where in the world and set up in an open space. The museum itself is free, but you can make donations which go towards the Flying Elephants Foundation which is pretty impressive in itself. Unable to resist the sensational artwork and coffee table book in hand, it was time to eat. Tomorrow we would be off to Vegas….

Amazing photos that have to be seen in person