I’m actually writing this on day 14, just haven’t had time to settle and write because of so much to do!
On February 21 we began our day tour with Trota Tours. Francisco was our Guide again for the day, he seemed more comfortable with our group. Only 8 of us were on the bus as one of our ladies was not feeling well and stayed back at Ticalli. Heading towards the Presidential Palace, I noticed how different Mexico City is from 20 and 10 yrs ago. Whereas the first time I was here the streets were dotted with green Volkswagens, now they are colourful Nissans, Toyotas and many Chevrolet. Taxis are pink now, 20 yrs ago were green – I think?
5 million cars a day travel on the streets and roadways and about 4 million people take the trains and busses.
Construction exploded here, gone are the old crumbling buildings I saw and modern buildings in there place. From watching out my window, the mayhem of the traffic just works. Vehicles turning into a lane beside our bus with mere inches between us made me cringe! I guess I’m getting old and not the risk taker I used to be ?
We soon arrived at the Zocalo where the humongous Flag of Mexico stands in the middle of the square with the Presidential Palace and the church on 2 sides of it with hotels lining the street on the other sides.
Firstly we entered the immense Cathedral. There were gated altars on the sides of the main walkways, the first one to the left was for the Archangels. Services can be booked beforehand. I purchased a candle and lit it asking for healing for those that are sick and for the woman who was sick and could not make our tour. I remember in 1997 many of our group were sick, the altitude and dehydration can be difficult on a body.
Ahead was a picture of the Virgin Mary pulling souls out of hell, there were candles lit in front of it. I am not Catholic but I appreciate the candle lighting. The gold leaf covering ornate sculpture and frames is beautiful and at the same time I wonder how much money is sitting there??
Next was the Presidential Palace. The entrance has changed, now there is a queu to enter the Palace on the left of the building to enter the courtyard, where you must remove hats, wear a numbered lanyard ( ewwww, the string has others DNA on it! I put it under my collar, not against my skin.) and no backpacks or beverages are allowed inside. Since we are a tour we did not have to submit our passports for safekeeping.
I just love the tile and stonework of the southern climes, shiny and clean looking we were shown the way down the hallway and proceeded to learn the history of Mexico through Diego Riveras murals.
We were off then to Teotihuacan that is located north of the city. We stopped first at a cactus processing/craft making factory (tourist trap) to show us how important the cactus is to the people of Mexico. We were told there are 900 varieties of cactus (correct me if I’m wrong, sometimes difficult to hear the Guide, I give in Steve, My hearing is getting worse ?) that is used for paper, thread, juice and of course Tequila. Our demonstration showed how to drink tequila and my family read and learn, I WAS right! You have a bowl of salt, a bowl of limes, and a shot of tequila. Take the lime, dip into bowl of salt, bite and squeeze juice in your mouth and keep it there while you take the shot and mix together inside your mouth than feel the mild burn going down. The Pulque, slightly fermented cactus juice was meh. Can do without that stuff.
This factory/store had beautiful items made of semi precious materials the most precious is Jade stone. If I was just going back home from here maybe I would have purchased something, but really, a picture of the items is good enough for me. There were handicrafts, clothing, jewellery here as well. Nice stuff.
After a lunch in a restaurant nearer to the pyramid that has a huge sign “100% smoke free” all of a sudden smoke began wafting towards us big time. A man at the table beside us smoked away on his cigarette and one of our ladies complained, the waiter was uncomfortable and didn’t seem like he wanted to approach the man. We were all talking about this loudly and either he put it out or he was finished and it was no more. Don’t piss off a bunch of women on tour, especially Guide Leaders if you know what’s good for you! ?
Back on the bus and after a short ride we entered the parking lot. Sure is a difference from last time with manicured entrance with small trees plants and a really nice automated restroom permanent building.
Francisco took us through an excavated village where inside there is still paint on the walls from around the time of Christ. He said imagine all the colours using flowers, insects lapis lazuli powder and lime. And I could.
We all stood there in the middle of the walkway of the dead, vendors blowing into these ceramic faces and sounding like a jaguar growling! Crazy scary the first time then became annoying. Amy, aren’t you glad Baba didn’t buy this for the kids? The was an audio phenomena where if you stood in front of steps leading out on the dredges of platforms and clapped your hands the echo sounded so clear and close. The next set of steps sounded different. He was demonstrating how the audio worked and voices and music could carry without an electrically powered microphone.
The Pyramid of the Moon. Female energy. Three of us decided to climb it, I had done the Sun twice before and it was accomplished.
We walked over to the pyramid of the Sun and 3 of our group climbed it while the rest of us waiting, constantly saying “no thank you” “no thank you” and NO! The vendors were relentless but I understand this is their living. I kept my promise to myself and didn’t buy anything. In the past I bought ceramic whistles, postcards, and my cactus tablecloth that is twenty years old and still in great shape! In addition to walking vendors there is a gravel street lined with shops ready to sell you anything your heart desires.
Our tour man received a call from from the executive director of the Girl Guides of Mexico Association. She had taken our fellow participant to hospital to visit the emergency room. The vomiting had not stopped and she was dehydrated. This woman went out of her way and took time out of her busy day to stay with her. Bless her heart! Of course we were worried about her for the rest of the day.
Our next stop was at the Shrine of Guadalupe. The name came from Spain, of the brown mother in Moorish Spain where there is a statue near wolf river, Guada is water and lupe is for Wolf. In the 1500’s she appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego. The local priest didn’t believe him and asked for proof. Her second appearance to Juan Diego resulted in the apparition creating roses in the barren desert and giving them to Diego wrapped in a cloak as proof of the event. The priest then believed him and a church was built.
It’s a beautiful church. The original cloak is still hanging behind glass way up on the wall where you stand on moving walkways to view it. I’ve been here twice and this is the first time the tour guide took us into the church and actually point out that the artifact is hanging right in the middle of the room. We walked up into the church on an incline and past the scent of roses, as the flowers were lining the edge of the room. A service was taking place and I felt as those we were eavesdropping and shouldn’t be here. Continuing to walk around, we stepped outside into the huge courtyard which can hold I think he said 10,000 people. December 12 is feast day of Guadalupe celebration where millions of people come as a pilgrimage. We then entered the old church which has been standing for Years and is really, really sinking. We were warned not to look up as it gives you a dizzy feeling and you could fall. He wasn’t kidding!! Reminded me of the crooked room you find at a fair! I had a hard time looking up at the ceiling structure while walking, had to stand in one spot. There is a statue of Guadalupe where people touch the hands and say a prayer. I’m up for anything and thought why not. I touched her hands with my hands and was immediately overcome with immense sadness! A lump formed in my throat, tears began to well up and I released my hands. Was I feeling the energy of desperation of all the people who have touched these hands? It is said that people pray to her for healing of themselves and loved ones and that she has the power to intervene. I have read this from many cultures regarding the Virgin, Mother Mary etc. All the same entity, different name.
We returned to Ticalli and our tour mate was back. She was given IV fluids and was feeling better. The group did their own thing for supper, myself and another woman went immediately next door to a small restaurant and had a super tasting chicken soup; with lime.