Aztec Empire & Southern Mexico
During my stay in Guanajuato MX. I decided to travel all around the southern part of the country! (best decision EVER). Every week after class Friday afternoon I'd hop on a taxi to the local bus top (central camionera) and choose a random, yet interesting, destination from there :) Here you will find a short summary of places I visited on my weekend travels, travel tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage!
During my studies in Guanajuato, I met this AMAZING girl name Ana. Although we had barely met, we became great friends right away, we even ended up being roomies :) Well it turned out that Ana actually had some family in DF and since I had never been, I decided to tag along for a weekend. Upon arriving, her family treated us with such hospitality, I dont think i'll ever thank them enough. On our first day, her family took us on a tour of Teotihuacan, which is also known as "the birth place of the Gods". This place is AMAZING! Teotihuacan is a large archaeological site located about 40 km north of Mexico City. It was built more than 1,000 years and has a total of three pyramids. The city reached its peak around 500 AD when it was the center of a powerful culture that dominated Mesoamerica. Teotihuacan was abandoned around the year 800 AD however the causes of the fall are not known.
When you climb to the top of the Sun pyramid, which feels like a stairway to heaven because of how long it is, you will be amazed by the view! You can literally see all of the southern valley. The Sun pyramid is the 3rd largest in the world. It was really amazing to see a city that was built especially for "the gods" and where all original names are still honored and cared for. I also hiked up the Moon pyramid, or la piramide de la Luna, located at the end of the aveneue of the dead. I tuned into a couple of tour guides and picked up some info about their math and calendrics, which is represented in their art and construction of the buildings and altars. The temple of Quetzalcatl was my favorite with its engravings of Tlatoc, the rain god.
When your getting ready to leave the site, make sure and take a look around the vendors spot. You can find lots of awesome souvenirs for really cheap! But make sure you look around and COMPARE PRICES! I bought this really really cute black stoned, heart necklace for $60 pesos (appx $5 US) which I thought was a super bargain, only to be disappointed a few vendors down when I saw the same necklace for $15 pesos :\
After our Teotihuacan adventures, the next day we got up bright and early to head into the heart of Mexico DF. For breakfast Ana's parents made us "Platanos Machos"... OMGosh! Delicious! I'm craving some right now! You’re honestly going to have to google this, because I have no idea how they were made. All I know is that they tasted amazing with some hot coffee.
To save time, we decided to take a cab down to the Subway and from them make our way to downtown DF. Ok, the subway... if your ever in Mexico don't miss the chance to take a ride on the awesome underground metro. Before my trip to DF I had heard so many horror stories of people being mugged, kidnapped and so many other things. Once I was there, everything changed; people over exaggerate! You just have to learn and fit in. If you walk in there, waving around your pocketbook or wearing the most expense heels you can buy, expect people to be giving you odd looks. Just feel comfortable walking around and know where you’re going. There is SO many people down there, and everyone is in a hurry to catch a sub; I doubt anyone will try and mug you, unless your waving around bills.
After taking the Metro (subway) to downtown, we made it to our first stop; the National Museum of Anthropology. If you're ever in town and feel in the mood for some interesting tours of the History of Mexico, this is a MUST VISIT! This museum is filled w/rich history, culture and the best part is that students get in for $10 pesos. Once inside the museum, I visited lots of sections, but my two favorites were the Olmecs and Aztecs. For years I had seen and studied the Aztec Calendar thinking it was just another confusing piece-puzzle to Aztec history. Upon visiting this place, I was in for a HUGE surprise! The Aztec stone calendar is actually a 12ft x 4ft stone that was found when excavating el Zocalo. For some reason, even after months of studying it and having the picture shoved in my face, I never knew that stone itself was that big! I had always seen the miniature version in the textbooks. This calendar is actually what many current day calendars are based off of. Its incredible to see how far advanced the Aztec community really was :)
After our long visit and walk around the museum we headed towards the Zócalo. El Zócalo is the main plaza, or square, in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. It has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times. It is the main site for big Mexican ceremonies, the swearing in of viceroys, royal proclamations, military parades, Independence ceremonies and modern religious events- such as the festivals of Holy Week and Corpus Christi. Set up all around the town square are vendors, performers, tour buses, artists and of course food stands. It's a great place to visit to just get a feel of what a typical day in Mexico feels like. We actually booked a tour on those double decker red buses. It was a lot of fun and very informative! After the tour we headed back towards the subway to catch a ride back to Ana's house, but not before stopping at Plaza Mariachi, were we enjoyed some lovely serenading and our corn on the cob.
Extra-time??? Unfortunately, due to class, I only had a short weekend to travel around the capitol of Mexico. Although I do feel I was lucky enough to visit many places, more time would have been nice. Sunday night Ana and I had to rush back to the “Central Camionera” (central bus station) to catch our 5-hour bus trip back to Guanajuato. If your planning a visit, you should most definitely check out the places i listed above! Well my friends, I hope this blog was helpful in some way, & if you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask :)