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Published: April 12th 2007
TeotihuacanApril 12 - 17
Piramide del Sol
This week I met the “Policia de Mexico.” I now realize it was never a matter of if, only when. Both times (yes twice in one week) I was driving. The first time was in Queretaro. My brother Lance was visiting. We picked him up at the airport and decided to take him on a little tour in the city. After stopping for cake and then tacos we decided to head home. I thought I could find a shortcut by driving into an area where I had never been. I took a couple of turns and then decided that I am driving the wrong way on a one way street. Not really that big of deal because people in Mexico do it all the time and the street is dead with no other cars. But then I start feeling paranoid and decide to turn around. I start to turn the car. Suddenly, from the back seat comes this voice that sounds a lot like my wife, “no, just keep going, you only have a little ways before you can turn off this road.” So I stop my turn and continue. 10 seconds later guess who turns on
Piramide del Sol - with Lance, Teresa, Haley & Madison
the street behind me? You guessed it. I very quickly make a right turn and hold my breath. Very odd thing how time kind of stands still when you are holding your breath and praying at the same time. I look in my rear view mirror and think, that’s odd the police officer wanted to come down this street also. Then I start thinking why is he getting so close to me? Then I think, perfect! He must have received an emergency call because suddenly his lights are on. But why doesn’t he pass me? And why does he keep turning his siren on and off? Then I remember that I am still not breathing. I take a deep breath and suddenly everything becomes clear - he is pulling me over. I start to remember my reading on “driving in Mexico.” Give him the copy not the original driver’s license. Most of all, don’t speak Spanish. He appears at my door and I am ready. I say, “Hooola!” He looks at me strangely and says hola, buenos noches. He asks my name and requests my driver’s license - I am ready. I give him the copy. Ha, I gotcha, think
Causeway of the dead
you are going to take my license do you? He looks at it for about 5 seconds and says, “this is a copy?” Uhhhhhhh…………si. He says, can I have the original? Uhhhhhhhhhh……….the book said nothing about this…uhhh….si. I give him the original. Suddenly I realize I can hear my brother asking Haley and Madison, “how do you say PIG in Spanish?” I can hear the girls giggling. He studies my license for a minute and gives it back to me. What! The book said he would take my license and demand a bribe to give it back. Then he tells me that I was going the wrong way on a one way street - you’re kidding! Then the real kicker, he asks me if everything is all right. In my (intentional) worst Spanish ever I tell him that I am a little lost. I tell him that I live in Juriquilla but I don’t know how to get home. I tell him I have clicked my heals twice but nothing has happened. He smiles, and tells me to follow him and he will take me to the road that leads to Juriquilla. I follow him until he pulls over and
Pyramid of the Moon
waves at me. I honk my horn and continue. Wow, did that just happen? I just met a really nice Mexican police office that did not write me a ticket, did not ask for money, and helped me find my way!
Police officer number two. I met this fine gentleman outside of Mexico City. I actually initiated this contact. We were returning from Teotihuacan, the site of ancient pyramids just north of Mexico City. I became lost (big surprise) and turned the wrong way which led me directly in to a 5 lane traffic jam at a toll booth. The charge for the toll was 115 pesos (just over $10 US). No way was I paying this toll only to turn around and pay it again on the other side. So, I pulled off to the side of the road and walked up to the booths. They called a police office over, accompanied by his M-16 machine gun (see picture). In my best Spanish I try to explain that I needed to get to Queretaro and was a little lost (does that sound familiar?). I tell him that I am certain I do not want to go through that
On top of Puramide del Sol looking down
toll booth. He agrees and tells me that I need to turn around and take a right turn. Ok, how in the world am I going to turn around? He tells me to get in my car and follow him. Just like Moses parted the sea, he walks into the traffic and makes me a path across 5 lanes of traffic and drops a chain fence to let me cross the median. I take the turn and I am on the highway that I need just like that! I decide right then and there that if we go back to Teotihuacan, I am doing it that way again!! Teotihuacan
This place is beyond awesome. The ancient ruins are just over 2 hours from our house. Pretty easy drive (at least on the way there - going back is another story). We arrived around 12:00 p.m. - big mistake! I really wanted a guide and by this time of the day all of the tour buses from Mexico City had arrived and there was not one guide to be had! So we were on our own. Recommendation: If you go, get there around 8 a.m. It is cool and the
On top of Puramide del Sol looking down
guides are plentiful and will cut a really good deal. By noon, if you can find any guides, they will not negotiate on their price.
This place is breathtaking. It was everything we expected, and perhaps a little bit more.
This place really is a mystery. The city reached its high point between 150 and 450 A.D. when it was the center of a powerful culture that dominated Mesoamerica. At its height the city covered over 10 square miles. Teotihuacan was an abandoned ghost city by the time the Aztecs found it, and gave it its name, which means "the place where men become gods". No one knows the true name of the city or the people who lived there (who once numbered 200,000). The huge site is laid out on both sides of the "Avenue of the Dead", which was perfectly aligned on a north/south axis. At one end of the avenue was the Plaza of the Moon, surrounded by several flat-topped step pyramids (see pics). Although Teotihuacan used to cover more than 20 sq km, most of what you see now lies along the 2km stretch. It was the first time that my brother had experienced any
On top of Puramide del Sol climbing down!
such site and I think he was pretty struck by the magnitude of the city and by the mildly mystical atmosphere surrounding it. Our first objective of the day was to climb the 230 ft high Piramide del Sol (3rd largest pyramid in the world). It is as large at the base as the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, but not as tall. By the time we reach the top we were certain it had to be the biggest in the world. At the top we were rewarded with spectacular views in all directions. You can see the entire city's layout from the top. By the time we climbed down, we were all hungry, it was getting hot and the sun was strong. It was a welcome relief from the sun to head towards the La Gruta restaurant, on the eastern side of Teotihuacan. The whole restaurant is inside of a cave, and can seat 800 people. Some sunlight illuminates the interior through two large holes in the cave roof. One end of the cave is completely covered with lit candles all over one wall - quite a spectacle. We had read about the place in one of our
Puramide del Sol
travel books and I was determined to eat there. We were not disappointed. If you want traditional Mexican food in a unique setting, I highly recommend this place. After we ate, we wandered round the museum. The place houses an array of artifacts and contains explanations in English as well as Spanish. It was interesting.
This has to rank near the top of our list of “things we have seen in Mexico.”
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