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Published: February 17th 2015
Feeling well-rested after yesterday's diversion we showered and headed to Mercado Roma in the Roma neighborhood, which is known as D.F.'s bohemian neighborhood. The market itself is higher-end and consists of two floors of food stalls from various local restaurants and businesses. The third floor is a beer garden. While the market was open at 10 when we went, many of the vendors didn't start serving until 11:30. Luckily El Moro Churrería was serving, so we sat down to café con leche and some churros with cajeta (a thick, Mexican syrup of sweetened caramelized milk)for dipping. I'd never actually seen how churros were made - they pump the dough through a contraption similar to a sausage-making machine and directly into a vat of oil for frying. They then cut them into smaller pieces. We are hoping KitchenAid Mexico sells an attachment!
We had an hour to kill so we bummed around the neighborhood, stumbling upon a really cool gallery with all kinds of weirdo furniture, jewelery, lamps, etc. The weather was perfect - bright and sunny and mid-70s. Definitely not missing the 7 feet of snow and sub-zero windchill back home! Anyway, back at Mercado Roma we had business to
attend to. First was hitting up La Macarela, where we had a spread of salmon sashimi and eel. That was followed up by two giant chocolatas, local clams served raw with jícama, lime, avocado salsa, peppers, and probably a few other things. Lastly was wagyu beef (Japanese beef a la Kobe) tacos with some fried onions and salsa roja. Satisfied we made our way back to the car to head east toward the pyramids at Teotihuacán.
The drive to the pyramids, another UNESCO World Heritage site, took maybe an hour. First it was a continuation of the urban sprawl - colorful houses dotting the mountainsides; then it became a little more desolate - modest little communities, burning garbage, cacti, etc. When we arrived we were greeted by a man who guided us to a little artisan camp, the purpose of which was of course to get us to buy crap, but it was actually a fun learning experience. A younger guy first explained to us both the modern and ancient uses of the maguey (agave) plant. Using a chunk of it he showed us how the first paper was developed, how textiles were made from thread-like strips of it,
soap from the extract, and finally how the aguamiel inside the plant is fermented to make various alcoholic beverages. After a brief foray into obsidian craftwork, we moved onto tasting things. First we tried pulque, the first alcoholic beverage brewed by the inhabitants of Teotihuacán. It had about as much alcohol as a beer and there are still pulquerías in Mexico City that brew the ancient drink. Next was tequila, followed by mezcal, then a sweet tequila infused with cinnamon, vanilla, and almond. Lastly was a sweet beverage native to Teotihuacán whose name escapes me.
Next it was onto the pyramid complex! Teotihuacán was a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city founded around 100 B.C. It would eventually become the largest city in the Americas with 125-175,000 inhabitants. The settlement actually was founded by neither the Aztecs nor the Maya, and the ethnicity of Teotihuacán's inhabitants is up for debate. The settlement may even have been a multi-ethnic state. By the time the Aztecs came across the city it had long been abandoned, but it continued to be regarded as a holy place. Today it's the most visited archeological site in Mexico, which also means we were assaulted by craft vendors every
The two biggest structures in the complex are the Pyramid of the Sun, which is in fact the 3rd largest pyramid in the world after Giza and another in Mexico, and then the Pyramid of the Moon. The hike up to the top of the Pyramid or the Sun at 246 feet wasn't too difficulty but a bit treacherous nonetheless. From the top, where there once sat an altar to an unknown deity, you could see the entire complex which was quite a sight. Continuing down the Calzada de los Muertos, or Avenue of the Dead, we came upon the Pyramid of the Moon, the second largest pyramid in the complex. This one we didn't quite feel like climbing. Next to it was the Quetzalpapálotl Palace and the Court of Columns, which featured some ancient murals of jaguars and the like, though it was hard to tell what had been reconsreucted as opposed to what was actually still completely intact. Pretty exhausted by this time, we passed on the Ciudadela and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which were the other way down the Avenue of the Dead. Oh well...
The ride back was a bit shorter, and
we just missed rush-hour traffic which is apparently beyond horrifying in the city. Hungry, we picked up a roast chicken and some freshly-made tortillas for about $6, then grobbed some cheese, crema, and soda at the little supermarket. Back at Casa del Solar we popped a bottle of cava and had a modest chicken taco spread along with the avocados we had gotten at the market. Alex had to finally return to work the next day (albeit only for two days before more fun with us!), so we kept it low-key, cancelling our late dinner reservation at a Basque place before turning in for the night.
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