Teotihuacán, Mexico. September 2006

About 50kms northeast of Mexico City are the amazing pyramids of Teotihuacán.

The Pyramid of the Moon

I didn’t visit Teotihuacán back in 1983 when I first went to Mexico because in my mind I thought they’d just be some kind of lame tourist trap. I used to have an elitist head space back then about travelling. I used to make a distinction between “tourism’ and “travelling”. In short I thought that tourism was for weak-minded lightweights and that travelling was somehow purer. Ah… the arrogance of youth. Now that I’m older, I see all travelling that’s not done for business, visiting family or to get to safety, as essentially tourism. Just going to places to have a look see.

I now wince when I hear someone declare with emphasis that are travellers.

Au contraire!

I “travelled” for 11 years straight which included probably over a 100, 000 kilometres hitch hiking and sleeping rough and when I look back I don’t feel that it could be described as anything more than tourism. I just didn’t have enough money most of the time to make it comfortable and that fact doesn’t turn it into “travelling”.

As a matter of fact, I’ve stopped staying at backpackers hostels when I do go abroad because I know it’s socially unacceptable to maim people bragging about what legends they are because have been “travelling” for a whole six months. I also feel it’s better for everyone that I remove myself from the temptation of perpetrating a little ultra violence when I hear some wanker ask a fellow backpacker, “how long have you been travelling for?”, so they can establish some kind of “I’ve been travelling longer than you” hierarchy. It’s a good thing that I didn’t meet myself when I was younger or I might not be writing this post.

Now with my little rant over, I will tell you a little about Teotihuacán. My wife and I took one of the cheap local buses from the Terminal Norte in Mexico City which turned out to be a good thing because it stopped at various little towns along the way and musicians would get on a play for tips. It was very atmospheric and muy sympatico.

If you ever go to Teotihuacán make sure you take a hat, some sun screen and water. There is very little shade and it can get very hot.

As you walk along the main avenue of the ruins, the charmingly named Calzada de los Muertos (road of the dead) you will see one small pyramid type platform after the other on either side in a row leading to the big pyramids at the end.

Calzada de los Muertos

It wasn’t until I had visited Teotihuacán that I found out that the largest pyramid in the world (Cheops) might be in Egypt but the next two largest ones were in Mexico. Even though I’ve been to Mexico twice now, it still amazes me how many big pyramids there are in that country. I almost think that fact is being kept from the world, but then I realize it’s just my own ignorance.

 At the end of the Calzada de los Muertos the second largest pyramid at Teotihuacán known as the “Pyramid of the Moon”

The Pyramid of the Moon seen from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun

and to it’s left is the larger (third largest in the world) pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun. My wife and walked up the stairs to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun.

Stairway up the Pyramid of the Sun

 It was pretty steep (not as steep as Tikal but much longer) and long but the view at the top is wonderful.

180 degree panorama from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun

On the Pyramid of the Moon’s right is the Placio de los Jaguares which is quite different to the rest of the complex. It’s a nice place to sit a while in the shade and get some respite from the hawkers.

The Placio de los Jaguares

The Placio de los Jaguares is one of the few places in the whole complex where you can still see some of the old painted decoration.

 It must’ve been an amazingly colourful place. Almost psychedelic.

Not much is known about the people who built Teotihuacán as it is thought that it was started in the first century AD and abandoned by the eigth century.

Remember if you go there, that the hawkers are probably the descendents of the people who built the place and they have a right to be there and to eek out a living somehow. Don’t get annoyed at their constant attentions, just say no, thanking them politely (no gracias) and walk away if you don’t want to buy anything from them.

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