Friday, January 11, 2013

Don't Buy It Here. It's Cheaper on the Bus

Mexico is a land of revolutionaries. Pancho Villa, Emeliano Zapata, and Benito Juarez are just a few of the notable names inscribed in the revolutionary history of Mexico. Something of that same revolutionary spirit lives on in the hearts of Mexicans today. On the one hand, they are a long suffering people who endure unbelievable suffering at the hands of a corrupt municipal, state, and federal government. On the other hand, they are not wont to take injustice laying down. They react. As a result, Mexico City has a nearly constant parade of protesters marching down one street or another. These manifestaciónes, as they are called here, do not often attract a large crowd. Thus, yesterday, after publishing the last post, a small manifestación passed beneath our window. It was over before it began, really.

We passed last evening quietly. Dinner at a nearby restaurant that caters to the tourist crowd and some American TV managed to occupy us for several hours. I did a little research planning for today's outing to Teotihuacan.

Teotihuacan is an ancient city whose foundation dates to about 500 years before the birth of Christ. Around the time Islam was arriving on the scene in Arabia, the city had become a geopolitical center of the region, and as Spain was being invaded by the Moors, Teotihuacan had become one of the five largest cities in the world. Then, about a century and a half later, the city was abandoned. No one knows why, and little, aside from what I have described, is known of its occupants. The Aztecs would later give the city it's current name, and develop legends about the city. Many revered it as the city of the god, Quetzlcoatl, who was driven from Mexico, but who promised to return one day. That promise was eventually fulfilled in the person of Hernan Cortez who initiated the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Today Teotihuacan remains the most complete set of ancient ruins in the New World. With pyramids dedicated to the sun, the moon, and a temple to Quetzlcoatl, it sits upon a vast park of about twelve square miles. Tourists generally access the site by bus, which is exactly what Jake and I did. To get to the bus, however, required a subway trip.

Mexico City's metro system should be classified as one of the wonders of the world. As I noted yesterday, the city is sinking. As a result, the metro system must be light enough to avoid sinking as well. It must be heavy enough, though, so as to avoid buoyancy and rising up into the city's streets and such. It is a wonder of physics that the system works and that the tracks do not shift. Even more wondrous is the fact the the system is incredibly fast, safe, easy to navigate, and scandalously cheap. Two pesos (less than twenty cents) will take a rider nearly any location in the city. The system handles around five million passengers each day. In other words, it does about a million dollars worth of work each day.

The only problem with the metro is that it can be very crowded, and lots of vendors get on a peddle their wares in the cars as one travels. Most typically they sell music, which means they blast sample songs from enormous speakers they carry around in backpacks. What a way to make a living...

Mexico is terribly poor, but I was a little taken aback today as I considered the fact that one can do nearly anything to make money here. In America a man with a guitar, aside from the precious few who be one famous, has a hobby, not an occupation. The same is not true here. With little regulation enforcement in most industries, people make a living in All sorts of unorthodox ways. Some sell fruit to people in cars are red lights. Some paint decals on the same cars (its pretty cool to watch this process). Others do on board entertainment for bus passengers. Having survived the subway, we finally found ourselves aboard a bus bound for Teotihuacan. The driver stopped at various points along the route to let peddlers aboard so that they could sell water, Coke, peanuts and sundry other foodstuffs. The best of these stops, however, produced a guitarist who played and sang at some length. I have video of him which I will put on Facebook since my phone will not allow me to add videos to the blog. We were treated to such classics as "Mi Árbol y Yo," and "I Just Called to Say I Love you."

The ruins themselves were astonishing. We spent several hours walking and climbing, and avoiding yet more peddlers of souvenirs. The Temple of the Sun nearly killed me (I have no love for stairs to begin with. I especially have no love for 2500 year old stairs with flimsy hand rails, and which are occupied by lovers from all continents climbing up so that they can make out on top of an ancient holy site), so I remained below when Jake climbed the temple of the moon. Following his descent, I finally broke and purchased a blanket to replace one that has inexplicably disappeared since my last trip. the vendor and I argued about the price at some length, and I still think he got more than he deserved, but I guess I do not have to make a living selling the things.

The rest of the day was spent making our way home. Dinner this evening was at a nearby restaurant featuring local food of a more sophisticated variety. I don't know about Jake, but I could have done without it. Give me beans and tacos.

Tomorrow will be a resting day. We plan to see the tomb of Blessed Miguel Pro, and then Jake HAS to watch the Broncos game. I expect I will go watch people in the Zocalo while he does that. Anyway, for now, enjoy these pictures.

Oh, by the way, it was hot today. I got a sunburn. So did Jake.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! It was cold and windy here today and I think it snowed in your town...your nephews are supposed to wrestle tomorrow, perhaps a prayer?


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