hey team just to let you know.. the photos end after our first day in mexico city as the camera got stolen 4 weeks later and we lost all our precious photos from central america since we were so behind on our blog entries 😞 but never fear! we now have a new camera and are picking up where we left off and the photos will continue when we arrive in vietnam....
The tally so far...
we´ve changed beds 30 times
plane rides: 9 with a total of 21,813 kilometres travelled by air
long haul bus trips: 11
Aaron has stubbed his toe... I dunno, lost count now
days in bed sick... 2 by Aaron
So we escaped the stifling heat and mosquitoes of the Amazon and arrived in Mexico city with an appetite for some tacos. Checked into Mexico City Hostel and made friends with the first person we met in our dorm, Hernan from Argentina. The three of us hit the streets looking for some dinner and beer. Finally found a place that looked promising and our friend from Argentina helped us decipher the menu. Unfortunately Mexican spanish is different again to South American spanish
so the menu was in total gibberish. Ended up having an awesome meal though, Mexican food Mexican style, rather than the version we get back home.
Next day Hernan wanted to check out the anthropology museum, so we all headed off together to find it. Mexico city is massive! The colonial architecture is beautiful and elegant. We discovered that there is actually quite a lot of money in the city, when we were expecting to see a lot of poverty. But we later found out that the poverty is definitely there in abundance, just not within view of the city. Everywhere were well dressed business people and every car was an expensive one. Fancy shops everywhere, glittering shopping malls.. totally not what we were expecting. It seems Mexicans like Starbucks too as there was literally one every two blocks. We eventually got to the museum after an hour or two of walking. The museum didn´t look that big at first sight, but ended up taking us quite a few hours to look through, the most amazing museum we´ve ever seen. Loads of intricate stone statues and pottery, mummies and so much more. The Mayan statues were stunning.. some of
doing it the hard way
the most scary monsters I´ve ever seen! We took loads of photos.. check out for yourself.
That night we met up with Liam, Aaron´s friend from Bellingen who is living near Mexico City and working as a teacher. We followed Liam´s directions and headed to a pub in an area called Condesa. Being poor travellers, we of course have very minimum clothes for going out in.. and being a pub we thought it would be casual so we turned up in jeans and tshirts and felt very underdressed! Turns out that Condesa is quite a rich area. We sat at the bar waiting for Liam to arrive and killed the time staring in amazement at all the fancy cars going past.. bentleys, beamers, hummers.. you name it. Even the pub we were at had it´s own valet parking. But as we have discovered on our travels, people watching is always rewarding of course. While we were sitting there we noticed a little boy of less than 10 wandering the streets selling cigarettes. There was also a man selling a go on some kind of macho man test. He had two metal bars with wires coming out of them and
attached to some kind of battery. The idea is that you hold both bars while he turns on the electric shock and you see how long you can hold it for and if you are more macho than your mates.. weird! Liam and Tom finally turned up and we spent the night bar-hopping through Condesa. We had a good laugh and too many beers and cocktails and finally had to call it a night so we could still do our planned tour the next day.
So we made it to Xochimilco the next day, albeit a bit hungover. We descended into the subway to make our way out to the famous garden canals. The train ride wasn´t fun with our hangovers, but we braved the crowds and made it to our destination. On arriving we discovered that our little boat trip would be more expensive than expected, costing $20 for only an hour on the water without any stops at all. But since we had come all this way, we had to check it out. There were many other boats on the water as Xochimilco is a popular weekend destination for Mexicans. It was cool to see them all
out and about having fun in big family groups, not something we see so much of at home. Each boat could seat at least 10 people, so some of them were quite full and had parties on board. We even saw a wedding, with several boats drifting along together and also with their very own boat of mariachi singers! Mariachis could also be hired for a mere $8.. but being poor travellers we had to decline on that. There were plenty of locals trying to make a buck of course. We had an old lady board our boat (our boat that only had us two on it) and try to sell us some ugly jewellery. We had to say ´no gracias´20 times before she got the message and boarded somebody else. Lots of other people selling tacky souvenirs, bunches of flowers, corn on the cob, cocktails, beer... you name it!
After our rather short boat ride at Xochimilco, we slowly made our way back to the city on the crowded metro. The metro train can be a very noisy place as every man and his dog is out to make a buck. Sellers get on and off at every
single station, selling the most outlandish junk and entertainment. Lots of people get on selling CD´s. They jump on at a stop carrying a CD discman and have it plugged into their backpack, which contains loudspeakers. They then immediately blast out the music, which can be anything from Britney Spears pop hits to classical Mexican folk music. The blast it for a good 30 seconds, skipping through the songs and then turn the noise down a bit while they talk at the top of their voice about the CD and how it is only diez pesos each. Surprisingly, they make quite a few sales. On our other Mexican train trips we also saw a man with one leg in a wheelchair get on and sing a few songs. A small girl got on and led her supposedly blind father through the carriage while holding a cup out for money. Some people sell cheap kids toys or lollies or chewing gum. But the most strange one was a guy who looked like a junkie of sorts. He was wearing only jeans and had a very scarred back. He was carrying a tshirt in a bundle and it made a tinkling noise.
He stood in the middle of the carriage and made some spiel in spanish, then he promptly put his tshirt on the ground and spread it out (it contained a whole pile of broken glass), then he quickly did a forward roll onto the glass so he landed on his back.. then he jumped up and wrapped the glass, put his begging cup out and walked to the next carriage! So after our little train adventure, we headed to the bus station and boarded the bus out to Cuernavaca to stay with Liam for a couple of nights.
The trip to Cuernavaca was uneventful. We quickly got a cab and followed Liam´s instructions to his house. The cabbie got the shits though when we realised we couldn´t find the house number and we ended up getting out of the cab with all our luggage to walk and find the place ourselves. It seems Mexican street numbers don´t necessarily go in order. We were looking for number 1.. but do you think we could find it? The first house on the street was number 27, then it went to 15, then 17... hmmm.. confused much. We asked around and pretty
much every person pointed in a different direction to the last, so we hit the footpath and started walking. Half an hour later, after asking 3 more people and getting 3 different answers.. we accidentally walked past Liam´s flatmate Tom pulling into their driveway.. talk about blind luck! Next morning, Liam took us on his Sunday ritual outing. First stop.. street tortillas for brekkie. So the apparent good things about these tortillas was a) the good ones are ony available on Sundays because the guy cooks the meat in some special way and it takes a few days so it´s a Sunday special b) the tortilla bread is blue because they use some kind of mouldy corn that makes it blue as well as tasty... mmmm.. yum.. c) they only cost a dollar each! So we fudged our way through trying to tell the seller I was a vegetarian.. so he made me a special cheese one which was really tasty. Aaron and Liam had second helpings so the meat was apparently good too! Meat and cheese tortillas.. breakfast of champions. Next, we headed off to the bus stop to catch a public bus to town... of course the locals
on the bus thought us 3 gringo´s were the weirdest thing to happen all day. Second breakfast was at Liam´s favourite juice bar.. where the juice is only fresh fruit, bucket size and only costs $2.50.. it´s so big that you don´t know whether to piss or shit afterwards! We had a quick walk around town and went to the Sunday market, a massive and thoroughly chaotic underground rabbit warren of junk, clothes, electronics, fruit and veg. As Liam had shown us around Mexico City the night before, we promised to cook dinner to return the favour.. so we scoured the market for ingredients to make a big famous Coley´s vegetarian lasagne. Our second night at Liam´s was spent cooking dinner (with Geronimo the cat helping out), and drinking on the rooftop of their beautiful house with an amazing view of Mount Popocatepetl in the distance (an active volcano that is a massive 5426 metres high).
Next morning we packed our evil backpacks once again and boarded the bus back to Mexico City. We found ourselves another bus and headed out to the famous pyramid site of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas and was
thought to have been established around 200BCE. The site is huge, covering a known area of 83 square kilometres. It was a hot day, so we weren´t in the mood for the hoard of hawkers that swarmed on us the moment we walked in the gate. Unfortunately for them, this was one of our poor days so we had no money to buy their junk anyway. They hassled and followed us the whole day trying to sell us masks and blankets and jewellery etc etc.. soooo annoying. The initial view of the site was very imposing. Ahead of us was a set of stone steps with a large pyramid in the distance. Down the wide avenue we could see two huge pyramids, Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. We headed down the ´Avenue of the Dead´to go check out the Pyramid of the Sun, which is the second largest in the world. The avenue was flanked with lots of smaller pyramids, which apparently used to be topped with temples. Behind the small pyramids were myriad rooms, all laid out like a labyrinth. When we got to the base of the Pyramid, we noticed a locked door behind
a fence. Apparently a tunnel had been discovered that goes right into the pyramid.. so frustrating and intriguing that the most interesting bits are still hidden from public display. We climbed to the top of the steep, 75 metre high pyramid and admired the view of the ancient city. We could see that the pyramid had previously been covered in render of sorts and could only imagine what it had looked like in full colour. When we got down to the bottom, the hawkers were waiting for us again.. getting very sick of saying ´no gracias´by now. Further down the avenue there is a well preserved painting of a jaguar. We found another spot where we could enter an underground tunnel... finally! Down there were some awe inspiring, preserved paintings. It´s amazing that something so old can still have colour.. check out our photos. Spent the rest of the day climbing the Pyramid of the Moon and walking through the labyrinth of other ruined rooms, stairs and pyramids. Found some very impressive preserved carvings on the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. A massive set of stairs on the side of a pyramid, flanked by statues of various heads depicting monsters not of
this world. Amazing stuff.. what a cool day.
Not much more to report on Mexico City... next stop, Xilitla.... 10 hours north on yet another long bus ride
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