First days in Mexico...

Published: June 15th 2009
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26/4/09 = An organising day 😞

Worst sleep ever, if I even slept at all. Really not dealing well with jetlag. Woke up at 11pm convinced it was morning and hungry for breakfast. When realised it wasn’t even a new day, closed eyes and spent next hours tossing and turning wide awake. Eyes were actually stinging when tried to close them. Then at 3am, door to room opened, light poured in and noticed a large…v.large… figure fill the frame. It was girl talking v.loudly, which I thought was quite rude. Presumed she was drunk so turned over and waited for her to go to bed. 10mins later, she was still shuffling about the room and talking really loudly. Couldn’t see another person, so thought she must have been on her phone = even more rude. Couldn’t she take it outside? 15mins later, had had enough, so opened eyes fully to find no other person and no phone…she was talking to herself…really loudly talking to herself. Not your usual and acceptable kind of talking to yourself like “Where did I put that…..?”, but more angry ramblings. Just getting quite worried when she finally left room and managed to get to sleep.

Next time opened eyes it was 8am and to sound of alarm. Absolutely shattered. Re-applied cream over still burning, red legs and went down for breakfast. Toast and tea = good enough for me. That was before I tasted it. How can you go wrong with toast?...with sweet butter, that’s how. Gross. Forced it in, then trapsed back upstairs, Not feeling too good this morning. Body = distinctly achey and v.sluggish. Hoping it’s tiredness and not the pig flu…took 2 paracetamols just in case. Showered and getting changed when the weird talk to herself lady from last night came in…and she was still talking to herself. In front of us all, in pure daylight, she came in talking, then went into the bathroom and continued talking. It was so loud that we could hear her through the wall and all she said was the same thing on repeat = something about never having a ‘white wedding’, wanting and never having ‘two kids’ and wanting to kill herself. Her mini speech lasted just over a minute, then she went back to the beginning and repeated it again, over and over again. Pretty scary, in fact, really scary. None of us in the room spoke. She was clearly mentally ill and to be honest, really didn’t feel safe sharing a room with her. Couldn’t wait to leave room.

Today = an organising day. Set off with our tube map and plans to visit bus station and information centre to plan rest of trip in Mexico. Didn’t have a mask to wear yet, but hoped to pick one up in station. Managed to find it o.k., although did have to practise one of only 3 phrases I knew = “Donde esta…”. Really need to learn Spanish. Didn’t feel bad about not having a mask until got into station and saw that at least half of people there were wearing them. Nothing we could do about it though; they just didn’t have any left. Got a ticket - had to buy any she offered us because asking for a ticket was not one of the 3 phrases I learnt - and managed to catch all 3 of our tubes successfully. You can’t beat a good tube system! Ticket turned out to be really good as well, because could go on as many tubes as liked as long as didn’t leave station.

Arrived at bus station to find information centre closed…Pig Flu! Typical. Al this way and exposure to flu for nothing. Only thing could do now was help ourselves, so paid for one hour on internet and worked out our own route and plan for next 18days. Places to visit:
• Teotihucan = Pyramid of Sun and Moon.
• Puebla = a town of amazing architecture and history.
• Oaxaca = architecture and culture.
• Palenque = Archaeological National Park.
• Merida = coastal stop.
• Cancun = famous beaches and parties.
• Cozumel = a cheap and beautiful island.
• Playa del Carmen = more beautiful beaches.

With that plan of action sorted, booked some of our onward buses, which were surprisingly quite expensive. Teotihuacan tomorrow = only 60ks out of Mexico City, then Puebla next day = several hours away.

Decided to go back to hostel then. No point trying to visit anything in city because all closed anyway. Went back and then headed straight out to market again. Markets and tube stations not best place to be without a mask, but didn’t have much choice. Market was even busier today as well. Had a good look round it, but couldn’t buy anything because still didn’t know Spanish numbers so couldn’t understand how much anything was. First things first anyway = food. Looked everywhere on stalls for food, but they only sold crisps and nachos type foods with a disturbing jet black sauce. No thanks. In end, wandered into fruit market and found a cheap place to eat in there. Didn’t know what tostadas were, but this stall sold every variety of them possible and when saw the old ‘pollo’ on the menu, I was sold! We were both quite shocked with what came out. Was a large crisp with a brown sauce on top with bits of chicken in it and lots of cream cheese heaped up on it. Interesting. I managed to gulp it down - no suprises there - Deb found it bit more difficult. They were only small and evidently, you are supposed to order them in courses and have a different flavour each time. One was enough for us. Wondered on.

Bought fruit, veg and rice for dinner form market - lots of v.bad Spanish used - then went to a posh bakeries to get lunch for tomorrow. Wondered through busy square and back towards hostel, watching a comedian on the way. Obviously couldn’t understand what he was saying, but wish we had never stopped anyway. He picked us out straight away, asked where we were from in English, then started talking to the rest of the crowd in Spanish. They laughed, we looked stupid, didn’t like it. Looked around the crowd of at least 100people and was only then that I noticed why he had picked us out. We were the only ‘white’ people in the whole square and most certainly the only people with blonde hair. We totally stood out like a sore thumb; brown hair would have definitely been a bonus at this point. Even as managed to move away and keep walking back, still didn’t see 1 other blonde haired person in the crowds of thousands. Wow, talk about aliens in New York.

Sat in the square by the cathedral for a while, then wondered back to the hostel and wrote diaries in the sun for a while. Another scorching day. As sun went down, went up to room. Had been incredibly fortunate to change rooms and move away from mentally ill girl because there weren’t enough lockers. Brilliant; didn’t have to sleep with one eye open. Went to our new room to find another girl had moved too; she was also totally freaked out by the talking lady. Was anybody not? Did boring things like washing, read book for a while, then Deb woke up at 7 and we made dinner. One of worst dinners ever with plain, dry rice and some vegetables mixed in. Really not enjoyable, but ate it anyway. Watched film then with the other girl in our room = Dodgeball (that’s not the name of the girl!) Laughed all the way through that, then off to bed just before 10pm. Again not tired, so spent a few hours listening to thunder and rain (seems to storm on most nights in Mexico) then must have drifted off at some point.

27/4/09 = The Remarkable Teotihuacan

Another not good sleep. Rash finally easing off (if it even was a rash) = good, but body v.achey…v.flu. Took 2 paracetamols as soon as woke up; could do without swine flu. Got up early ready for trip to Teotihuacan and had awful toast breakfast. Czech girl sharing room decided to come on trip with us too = good because she was nice and spoke Spanish! Set off for tube station at 9:30 and put mask on for our long journey all the way to the end of one line. More people wearing masks today and I really didn’t enjoy experience of wearing mine; was too hot, v.claustrophobic and felt like couldn’t get any air in to breathe. Better than alternative of swine flue I guess. Tubes quite entertaining in Mexico, so not too bad that we had a long journey. Always have sellers getting on and off and walking up and down cars; music sellers were my favourite…nice to listen to random music whilst travelling….they even had a spell of Robbie Williams.

Got off at last stop then had to get on a bus to do last part of journey to Teotihuacan. Had been told it was a 20min journey, but an hour later, we were still on bus. Good journey for looking out of window though and saw some amazing villages. Loads of houses and ‘shacks’ built into hills, stacked on top of each other. And I thought Bellways was good at cramming houses in. When arrived, Czech girl realised she had lost and expensive earring. Spent 10mins searching along the cobbled street with her in the midday sun, but was impossible to find. She told us to head off because she didn’t want to give up, so we paid our 120peso and headed into site. Passed through the market and out onto the Avenue of the Dead. Had lots of boards of information, but was too hot to stand about reading, so did some quick skimming and went to look at the temple in front of us. Teotihuacan = an ancient religious, Mayan place where priests and religious leaders lived and worshipped.

First came to a temple. Had to walk up ruined steps and then opened out into a square, a square sectioned off by lots and lots of sets of steps. At the far end of the square was the remains of a pyramid. The steps themselves were quite amazing. V.steep and v.narrow, so that every time we walked along a platform, it always looked like a sheer drop down because the steps were so narrow. Manoeuvred way across steps, dodged the hundreds of sellers selling everything form jewellery to rugs and had a nosey at the leftover remains. Nice carvings and parts of statues still in tact, but was too ruined and damaged to touch or climb. Carried on our journey up the Avenue of the Dead.

Lots and lots more steps along the way and lots of squares to pass across. Really interesting to see blocks of steps built to create the squares, but v.hard work on poor legs traipsing up and down them all. Mayans must have been Only thing saw more of than steps = sellers. Had already said “No gracias” at least 100times within first 5mins of walk. There really was too many of them, in combination with too many steps and way too much heat!

Heading straight down Avenue and towards the impressive Pyramid of the Moon, when noticed the giant Pyramid of the Sun on our right hand side. Wow…that thing is huge! Not so much tall as wide…really, really wide. Not the traditional pyramid you would imagine, more of a box shape, in fact, it looked like a sandcastle built by a giant who had scraped all the Earth together to form a mound and patted it down into a smooth heap. V.impressive all the same. Dodged more sellers, walked up and down more blocks of steps just to get to it, then finally started the climb up. Funny how things look so unbelievably bigger the closer you get to them. People climbing it and near the top looked like moving specs of dust. Took several steps to get up it, but thankfully they were in chunks with flat rests in between to look out and enjoy the view. Well done Mayan builders! Even less than half way up the view was pretty impressive. Could see all the squares formed by steps and the cool Pyramid of the moon, both with ant-like people scurrying around.

Mayan builders did good with the rests between steps, but they didn’t do so good with the steps themselves. They must have been giants with tiny feet; half of the steps were so steep and narrow that you had to use a rope handrail to pull yourself up like an army assault course. Amazing view when finally got to top though. Could see every bit of ancient brick and stone across the whole site; awesome.

The descent was actually worse than the climb up! Couldn’t avoid looking at how high we were and how bad a fall it would be if lost balance. Gripped onto that rope all the way back down! Then had to face the sellers again as made way over to Lunar Pyramid. V.annoying by this stage and discovered best technique = ignoring them. The Moon Pyramid is much smaller than the Sun Pyramid and much less dominating. It sits right at the end of the Avenue of the dead. Had to walk passed several more blocks of steps, temples and columns to get to it and then started to climb. Not nearly as many steps as Sun Pyramid, but steps were of exact same quality = narrow and steep. Got ¾ of the way up to find that was as far up as we could go = disappointing. The top 1/4 must have been deemed unsafe. Still, was another really good view, actually better than Sun Pyramid even though wasn’t as high. Could see straight down Avenue of the Dead and the view of the Sun Pyramid was awesome too. Sat down on the edge and had a little snack. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that scared…must have been the excitement over food! Could have stayed there for ages, until noticed lots of little flies swarming us that looked way too much like sandflies for comfort - swiftly climbed back down. Again, descent was worse than ascent.

Only thing left to visit then was a temple, so dodged and ducked round the sellers to get to it - the Teotihuacan would be an excellent place to practise the skills of Dodgeball! The temple had been heavily damaged, but still had intact engravings on the wall and all interior walls left so that could see how it was made up of little chambers. In it’s current state, it looked more like a maze than a temple. Beside it, was the market. Yeh! Such a hot day, had to get an ice lolly to cool me down, followed by a cold drink. Mexico is unbelievably hot! Wondered round other little shops, bought some postcards, then headed back towards temple, which is where spotted Czech girl again. She had also finished looking around, so we all headed back together.

Was a long, hot walk back to beginning and had forgotten about all stairs! Legs well and truly aching. Didn’t visit museum - had already been there 3hrs - so went back to catch bus. A nice man directed us to a shady spot out of sun and he stopped bus for us so that we could get on - nice man. Wasn’t as nice a bus as first one and awful sweat inducing mask made it even more uncomfortable. Face masks = face saunas. A couple got on singing and playing guitar for money - quite normal in Mexico - then got off at tube station just 2mins later. This was a much more direct route. Had to get 3 tubes to get back then and couldn’t wait to get out just to take mask off. Absolutely shattered when got back to hostel and body most achey it had been in ages. Must be so unfit! 4weeks of beaching and lazing about left me totally unfit and weak…all that NZ biking fitness gone…what a shame! Laid on bed - which was a mistake because was absolutely shattered - but then forced selves up and to internet shop = our regular job. Lot of blogging to do, but was worst internet shop ever. 1st computer I went on didn’t work, 2nd one shut down and on the third one, none of the keys did what they should have done. Impossible! Half of punctuation keys didn’t even exist. Spent an infuriating 30mins typing, then the usual nightly storm came and it was so bad that it knocked out all the power! It just wasn’t meant to be for me and blogging.

Came out of internet shop at 7pm, hungry. No restaurants nearby open, so had to go to mini supermarket over road. Found something that looked like baked beans - obviously not Heinz - bread and even treated ourselves to cheese. Got back to hostel to find that the beans were not at all the beans we had hoped for…not at all! Looked like kidney beans and another unidentifiable type of bean mixed together in watery tomato juice. Not good! Deb refused to eat them straight up, but I decided to brave it. Surely cheese would make it tasty? Had the weirdest beans and cheese on toast ever - can’t say it was enjoyable, but at least it filled me up! Went up to room then at 9pm. Took another paracetamol for achey body - still a bit worried about flu thing - then got showered and got into bed to write diary. Didn’t stay up for long because everyone else asleep, so turned light off and laid wide awake in bed 😞

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