Our last day!
Up and out La Casita by 8am. Our guide for the day, David, picked us up. We were surprised to see him because we had booked this day with a woman named Marinuska and she didn’t mention she wouldn’t be our guide. More on her later. David was very friendly, and I guess we are super trusting Americans because we got in the car with him, no questions. The drive to Teotihuacan takes a little over an hour. You must make it through the city traffic which, as mentioned before, is heavy. After you get out of the city, the drive becomes picturesque with brightly painted homes built into hillsides and eventually scenic landscape. David was very knowledgeable about all things architecture and art related and from his passenger seat he kept pulling out maps and magazine articles to share with us. He was quite skilled at driving while sharing visual aids and explaining ancient civilizations.
I asked David about my theory on Diego Rivera being a sham and Rivera’s enemy-ship with David Alfaro Siqueiros. We had a good convo about it and David agreed with my theories (more on that in another post) which made me feel very smart! We were scheduled to go to the National Palace to see Diego Rivera murals, after Teotihuacan and before Museo Dolores Olmeda. We decided at the last minute to skip it. Three big places in one day, our last day, seemed too much. More on that later as well.
Before we hit the pyramids, we made a pit stop. The bathroom happened to be attached to a store which happened to have a lady just waiting to give us a speech on the uses of the agave plant. This was fine by us and it was truly very educational! They use the agave plant for so many things, including using the tip of the leaf as a needle and the fibers attached as thread. I ended up buying 15 airplane size bottles of mezcal (worm included!) for my team at work, a Teotihuacan hat ($3 US!) and an obsidian disk for Eric. Supposedly he can look at a total eclipse through that disk. We are planning a trip to South America for the next total eclipse. I really hope it works.
Luckily, we were early to the pyramids and it was a Tuesday morning, so it was not crowded at all. Teotihuacan (“the place where the gods were created”) is an ancient Mesoamerican city from approximately 400 B.C. It is not known what civilization built it. The ‘city’ was discovered and named by the Aztecs in the 1400s. They also named the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon as well as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, or Temple of the Feathered Serpent, which are all along the Avenue of the Dead.
As we wandered into the complex, towards the Pyramid of the Sun, we could hear animal noises. The ‘sales guys’ were blowing into whistles that sounded like jaguars and eagles, as both are important symbols to the Aztecs. I regret not purchasing a jaguar whistle! Anyway, David and I headed up the Pyramid of the Sun while Roxy hung out at the bottom. She did not wisely pick her shoes for the day. The view from the top was amazing – as to be expected.
We made our way back down the pyramid and took a shortcut (through a field) to the Pyramid of the Moon, instead of going down the Avenue of the Dead. Only after we had returned home, and I was doing some research did I realize that we missed the Temple of the Feathered Serpent because of this detour! Argh! Another thing to add to my list for next time I guess. I decided not to go to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon. I had heard the steps were very tall and I wasn’t feeling that ambitious.
Next stop was an early lunch at a restaurant called Mayahuel. David assured us this was off the beaten path, away from the tourist restaurants. We were very pleased with his choice. I tried pulque, which is a fermented agave drink. I had learned about pulque in art history class, not realizing it was something still made. Tasted like coconut water! For my meal I had Pollo Mayahuel which was chicken cooked in a sauce of dark beer, dried chilies and pulque served with onions and nopales on the side. I think this was my favorite meal on this trip – top three at least. The chicken was so tender, and it was just different enough from all the other food we’d eaten. I’d like to try to recreate the sauce as close as I can. Roxy had Aztec soup that came sort of as a build your own, with all the ingredients (chicharron, avocado, cheese and fried chilies) on a side plate.
After lunch we loaded up in David’s car for a ride back to the city. It took us about another hour and a half to make our way to the Museo Dolores Olmedo. What a fantastic museum. The grounds are gorgeous, with peacocks wandering around freely. There was also a fenced in area with standard size Xolotzcuintli (Xolo for short, thank god), or Mexican hairless dogs. They are very strange looking dogs! Anyway, Dolores Olmeda was a friend of Diego Rivera and as a result, her home turned museum has one of the largest collections of his work. We saw a large variety and in styles I didn’t know he painted.
Towards the back of the property, near the café, was an exhibit of kids work. They recreated master’s paintings! It was a hoot! I loved the creativity of materials used by these kids. Around the corner, another room opened to show traditional folk arts including masks and tree of life statues. We decided to skip the gift shop (proud of us!) and headed home.
And then….Marinuska showed up…