Originally posted by me in 2012 on travelblog.org
Aside from the amazing Teotihuacán, there are a number of other interesting towns and villages near Mexico City. The following day we opted to visit one called Tepoztlán, about 50 miles south of the city.
Aside from offering a brief respite from the manic pace of Mexico city, the main appeal of Tepoztlán is the ancient temple set atop Tepozteco mountain.
Once we arrived in the town by bus, we spent some time wandering around the main plaza and market, before making our way through the quiet but colourful streets to the bottom of the mountain.
I suppose the word ‘mountain’ should have made the intensity of the climb apparent to us from the beginning, and indeed my Lonely Planet guide pointed out that the climb is ‘exhausting’, but somehow we hadn’t quite expected the mountain to be so…well…high.
What made the climb really extreme though, were the absurdly steep and crumbly steps. If this mountain was in the UK you can bet that health and safety regulations would have dictated that the trail be entirely re-done so that the steps could be deemed safe!
Strenuous though it was, the views from the top of the temple (when we finally reached it) were truly outstanding. The panorama gave breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain valleys, and the small towns and villages dotted sporadically around.
Taking in the views at the top were also a set of animals called ‘Coati’ who are members of the racoon family. They became less cute however when they started trying to get into our backpacks, and stealing my cereal bar! In fairness, the views during the climb itself were rather lovely, as we were surrounded by tall grand trees, but after the first half an hour or so, our focus turned more towards actually making it to the top, rather than taking in the surroundings!
Over the rest of the time in Mexico City itself we managed to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of incredible sights. One highlight was Templo Mayor, which was an important Aztec temple that was updated and expanded several times throughout a period of roughly 200 years. The adjoining museum contains a wealth of information and relics and was impressive too.
What made the Templo Mayor really stand out is the incredible position of the ancient temple, just a block or so away from the Cathedral, and across the street from beautiful and colourful modern buildings. Standing in the middle of the old temple, with the assortment of buildings around that each represent a different faith or era, was really quite incredible, and seemed to sum up the incredible mix of history and ethnicity that you can find in Mexico as a whole.
Another highlight was the Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) which we went to see in the evening after we visited Teotihuacán. It was brilliantly tacky, and I’m not even going to try to hide how much I loved the outrageous outfits or the charismatic wrestlers who had names like ‘Black Titan’, ‘Fuego’ (‘Fire’) and ‘Strongman’.
In such an epic city, it should come as no real surprise that the night life is also pretty damn good. As the drinks on the terrace bar at the hostel are so cheap, we treated ourselves to a few there before heading out to sample some of the nearby bars and clubs. The places we found were obviously very popular, and for good reason, as the music was varied and fun, and the atmosphere was great. I
t seems that when I’m drunk I am a lot more confident with my Spanish skills so I had many interesting drunken conversations in Spanish with some random Mexicans (who were all extremely friendly – have I mentioned yet that I love Mexican people? Because I do. They are awesome).
The following day we were feeling slightly fragile, but in the afternoon we headed out to an area called Chapultepec which is a huge park with a market, lakes and museums. The lakes were pretty grim, but the market was thriving and interesting, and nearby was yet another art competition, where artists had created big heart sculptures with different themes and patterns.
Now, of course, this is Mexico, and it would be an injustice not to mention another important highlight of the trip so far: the food! Although international food and standard things like sandwiches are widely available – and we certainly had our fair share of that sort of food as well – the Mexican food really is fantastic. The enchiladas sold at the hostel’s restaurant were particularly nice, although the amount of cheese was slightly excessive!
Mexican people certainly seem to like frijoles (beans) which are ground up to create what looks like a thick dark sauce and then sprinkled with cheese, and this is served with a lot of their dishes. I’m a pretty big fan of this frijole situation, but Scott was slightly dismayed to find them on his breakfast after our night out when his stomach was feeling rather fragile and he was craving simple, safe and familiar food only!
Around Day of the Dead, a type of bread called Pan de Muertos is popular, and so we decided to try this out and were certainly glad we did. Covered in sugar, it is a soft sweet bread which is made in a round shape with what almost looks like a bow on top (which, I have been told, is supposed to represent the folded arms crossed across corpses’s bodies).
The fruit and fruit juices available are also extremely fresh and tasty and far superior to most of the stuff you usually get back home. Although we avoided tequila as neither of us are fans, we did try some Pulque, which is a light alcoholic drink that comes in various flavours and has supposed health benefits, and that was pretty tasty too.
And that’s all for this first blog on Mexico City. Thanks for reading!
To see the original post on my travelblog.org site, click here.