Mexico City; A city whose rich history is traced back to the ancient tribes of the Aztecs. A city teeming with traditional art and culture. A city that is home to more than 20 million Mexicans.
My favourite place? The taco stand around the corner from the hostel. Not the pyramids, not the museums, not the thriving Zona Rosa. No, for me the best place in Mexico City was the tiny taco stand, which served the best tacos I have ever eaten, for 12 pesos. We went there four nights in a row, and I think even the vendors started to think we were a little strange by the last night.
The first night I made the rookie mistake of assuming that just because something looked like guacamole, it was guacamole. I ladeled that on to my taco, and despite scraping half of it off at the suggestion of the vendor, I managed to sear my entire mouth. I sat there with my mouth hanging open, eyes streaming, guzzling water, stuffing plain rice into my mouth and just waiting for the pain to stop. It took about 10 minutes before I could speak again. However it seems after that, everything else tastes a wee bit bland…so either I’ve developed a taste for hot salsa, or I’ve burned away half of my taste-buds. Not sure which it is yet.
Anyway, back to Mexico City. It is your stereotypical big city, too much traffic, too much noise and it comes complete with a dull brown haze of pollution that you notice as you’re flying into the city. Despite my fixation with the taco stand, there were a few “must-see” sites.
Teotihuacan – just outside the city – was an amazing archeological site, and I had fun punishing myself by walking up all three pyramids; Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third biggest pyramid in the world, but is the biggest climbable one so I was fairly happy to be fit enough to scale it. Sort of…I had to take a few moments halfway up to catch my breath, then another few three-quarters of the way up, and then quite a few moments at the very top. No matter – the view was astounding and there was some celebratory singing and guitar-playing by some other Latin American tourists. (I did wonder who would want to actually carry a guitar up a pyramid though…)
The other place we managed to lose about six hours was the National Museum of Anthropology. This place houses a phenomenal collection of artefacts from all of the ancient civilisations that lived in Mexico, including the very impressive Aztec Sunstone. Which I have seen before, but had no idea of its significance. It was here that I first began to realise just how much was lost when the Spanish colonised Central and South America. It made me more than a little angry, but I suspect that will become a familiar feeling on this trip.
After four days however, I have to admit that I was pleased to leave the city. A wonderful, crazy place but just a bit too much for me. I will miss those tacos though.