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What’s up, Trvl Likers?
Today we are gonna talk about…
Travel and Mexico
There is much more to talk about Mexico but one of the most “sexy” topic is pyramids. Yeah, you “heard” that right… pyramids. And not Egyptian pyramids but pure Mesoamerican culture ones.
Officially, San Juan Teotihuacan is 45 km from Mexico City but the Capital Federal sprawls across such a vast area that the dividing line is a vague one. A four-lane highway runs through some dispersed industrial buildings, offering a glimpse of greenery, before suddenly merging into a country road and the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teotihuacan.
The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan form an extraordinary pair of ancient monuments.
Foreign elements have encroached far upon ancient Mexico. Standing atop the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon at the ancient city of Teotihuacan, I can see latticed steel telecommunications towers grouped in the distance like alien life forms against the green mountains to the south.
As I mentioned above, the site now is noted for two extraordinary structures, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The former is the world’s third largest pyramid at 75 meters in height, while the Pyramid of the Moon is still impressive at 43 meters tall.
At its heyday, during the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was one of the world’s biggest cities itself, and certainly the largest in the Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000. When the Aztecs firstly arrived around 1200 AD, it had been abandoned already for a very long time but still they were amazed by its size and scale despite its thick covering of overgrowth. They named the broad road connecting the two pyramids, the “Avenue of the Dead”—the name still given it today.
Still current unanswered questions
The ghosts of the former inhabitants linger over the site, in the form of the unanswered questions that continue to intrigue researchers and visitors. What were the exact reasons of unexpected exodus of the city around 600 AD? What was the purpose of these massive pyramids and the many other large structures that surround them? Their political and religious functions are hinted at by the many precious offerings and human sacrifices but there is no written record to fill in the details.
Today, the site is besieged by tour coaches and over-run by visitors but it remains so vast that I can still find moments when I am alone amid these tributes to a city’s ancient gods and rulers. But it is the sudden detail of an intricate carving or carefully laid stone course that brings these people of the past most vividly to life.
It is impossible not to feel something extraordinary atop the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon.
Panting and gasping, some visitors climb the steep pyramid and, upon reaching the top and regaining their wind, look around briefly and then descend gingerly, clutching the rubber-coated guide-cables for balance. Everybody is anxious to leave the horizon glide up the sky and return to its proper place as they go towards the earth, facing away from their view the grandeur of the planet they momentarily surveyed like gods. It seems like there is no time to understand a fundamental truth of celestial places.
The moment of reaching the peak is not the crucial moment. The crucial moment comes perhaps five or ten or 20 minutes later, when the surrounding landscape in all its astonishing detail is no longer wondrous, no longer breath-taking, when it simply is. In this moment, having seen the miracle of the world in a fresh light, I now simply exist, inhabiting the space of that vision, as its rich and strange perspective assumes an aspect of normalcy. I find myself surrounded by this rocky height, resting my dusty boots on the throne and grave of an extinct religion, of a vanished people whose bloodlines are diffused in Mexico’s mestizo dream. It is natural to be here, writing in my notebook. Nothing could be simpler. The crucial moment occurs when the terrestrial and the miraculous are one.
When walking back the way that leads to the Pyramid of the Sun, I ran into a middle-aged British couple who were also returning. “How was it?” I ask. The woman turns to me and gives me a look and a word. “Excellent!” she says. That was the moment of a lifetime when anything anyone could say would fall short, and in these cases “excellent” was as good as it gets.