Suitcase and World: Las ruinas. Teotihuacán.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Las ruinas. Teotihuacán.

Standing on the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon in the background.

I remember when I first saw the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt. We were driving through a suburban neighborhood of Giza and while passing through an area occupied by commercial establishments, we could see the peaks of the pyramids above the stores.

It was a similar experience with seeing the temples of Teotihuacán. We passing by fields and village homes when all of a sudden, Daniel shouted out, "Teotihuacán" while pointing in the direction to the left of the driver. I looked and spotted Piramide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) peeking above the trees. I recognized it immediately from all the pictures I had seen of it when doing the reading for this trip. Then, Piramide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon) came into view.

Our driver turned left onto a road that look like it was going through a residential neighborhood except this one ended in a parking lot.

Pyramid of the Sun.  We quickly disembarked and followed Daniel up a long a dirt path to the pyramids. On our near left was the massive Pyramid of the Sun. It was difficult to make out because the pyramid is so tall but there were people at the very top! To our right, in the far distance was the Pyramid of the Moon, the smaller of the two temples. We couldn't see the Calzado de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead) that connects the two pyramids - that would come later.

It was drizzling very lightly, almost like a misting and the skies were threatening. I was hoping we wouldn't get caught in downpour.

As we rounded the corner to stand in front of the Pyramid, I finally got a sense of its size and the depth and steepness of its steps. Holy crap, it's steep!!

I kept thinking I must get to the top though I know the climb would be a challenge for my eternally weak lungs. As always, I keep telling myself to go at my own pace.

Can't beat the view from the top! The rain drops got bigger as we started our climb.

The steps were very irregular - some were just a few inches tall and others were at the height of my knees I told the guys to go ahead of me and they did but they would wait for me between levels. Very considerate of them. Of course, I used the breaks to take photos.

When we finally got high enough, we could see the layout of the city - especially Calzadao de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead) leading down to the Pyramid of the Moon.

What a magnificent view! It was impossible to capture the panoramic vista on my camera so I used my video camcorder instead.

The entire Avenue is about 2 miles long and the Temple of the Sun is located about 1/2 way down the stretch. Temples and other structures line the avenue and there are outlying structures as well. Seeing all in front of me, I could imagine the size of the original city. What a place it must have been!

Somewhere before I made it to the last platform area, the rain stated to pick up pace. I finally gave in and pulled the hood over my head. The guys did the finally climb to the top platform. For me, I was happy enjoying the view from just a few feet below.

Rain or no rain, I wanted a picture of my brother and I taken at Teotihuacán so I asked a passing tourist to do the honors. The Pyramid of the Moon stands in the background.

Our photo op over, we decided to head back down. Bad timing. The skies opened up and there was no tomorrow. The stone steeps would be slippery.

I put my camera back in back so I would have both my hands to brace myself on the walk down.

Luckily (?) for us, everyone else had the same idea about descending the Pyramid so it was slow going. Even so, I concentrated on where I was placing my feet and I took it slowly. The rain was pelting down hard and my pants were beginning to get soaked. It would not be long before my legs, especially my thighs, were soaked to the skin. One step after the after, slow as a snail, I made my way down. No stopping to admire the view.

Back on terra firma.  As always, I was the last person down.

The ancient Aztec gods must have been having fun with us because a few seconds after I made it down, the rain stopped. Note to self. Make offering to gods before climbing up their temples!

We walked across the small plaza that the Pyramid of the Sun fronts and climbed up and down another small set of steps. We were now on the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Moon was directly in front of us.

Strolling the Avenue. It was nice to be able to stroll without having to pay attention to where I had to put my feet. I took in the surroundings and a photo op or two with my brother as the subject :-)

Standing on the Avenue of the Dead with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background.

In fact, I was enjoying the walk so much that I didn't even notice Daniel veering off to the right until I had walked past him. I turned around and headed back to the spot where he had left. I found myself standing in front of a painting; an original Aztec (?) painting of a puma. There was a small thatch overhang protecting the painting from the elements. It's not just amazing that the painting has survived all these centuries but also that the red color is still so vibrant.


Pyramid of the Moon.  Continuing down the Avenue of the Dead, we eventually reached the spacious plaza in front of the Pyramid of the Moon. Much smaller in overall size and height than the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon is no less impressive.

I decided to not scale the Pyramid, leaving that privilege up to the guys. Richard and my brother started the ascent. The steps were much steeper in angle so both guys were essentially climbing up on all fours, quickly moving upwards like spiders. In no time, they made it to the very top. They were up there for quite some time, fully taking in the view of Teotihuacán from high above.

Coming back down was on all fours as well. 

I was hoping we would get to see the Temple of Quetzalcoatl but according to Daniel, it was closed. Too bad because I really wanted to see the famous carvings of Quetzaloatl that I had seen in my pre-trip readings. My guess is that the temple is closed because excavation work is going on.

With the visit to the Pyramid of the Moon over, our visit to Teotihuacán was over. We followed Daniel back to the van. I took every opportunity to catch some final glimpses of both Pyramids on our way out.

Pyramid of the Sun on top, Pyramid of the Moon on the bottom.

I'm not very good with descriptive words so whatever I say about Teotihuacán will never be adequate to describe what I saw and felt on my visit to this place. All I can say is that it was truly an experience of a lifetime and I'm so glad I was able to share it with my brother!