Here I am rounding out week two in Mexico City. I have moved on from gracious host Mark and am sleeping on the futon of brothers Diego and Juan in the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City. Just as their couchsurfing profile promised, they are way nice and a lot of fun to be around. This has been a good transition into city life as they both speak English quite well for true Mexicans, but Diego has been jibbing me into speaking more Spanish with him. I still can’t really follow anything that is said to me (I’m told I need to stop trying to focus on ever single word) but I am getting better at constructing full thoughts out loud. What’s pretty exciting is that I do feel way more comfortable with it all than I did, say the day I came. It’s everywhere, you pick it up.
So Thursday when I showed up to the brothers’ apartment Diego (who is a music instructor and Juan is an engineer for phone companies) and I roamed around the Coyoacán Neighborhood and stumbled into Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, or Blue House, which is the house she occupied up until her death. She’s a well-known Mexican painter but I will let you look into that yourself. From there we roamed around town, spoke a little Spanish about this and that and cooked a little dinner when Juan came home from work. They were nice enough to give me the only room and share a bed out in the main room so I could have a little privacy.
Also, here’s a nice little resource on Frida Kahlo if you’re interested in looking into her more.
Moving backwards, the first week and half was puuuuuufect with Mark. We had another couchsurfer in there, a Canadian named Andy and the two of us were able to roam around town while giving Mark some probably much-needed alone time. All three of us got along just nicely and Andy was always down to get out of the house. Probably one of the cooler things I’ll do on this trip was a day trip to Teotihuacan, which are pre-Hispanic pyramids about an hour north of the city. I’m pretty prepared for full days out in the sun so this was a great day. By Florida/Texas standards the weather here is to die for. The days have a pretty constant nice breeze and you need a sweatshirt at nights. This time in Florida??? You hide inside and whimper underneath your AC vent from 10am until sundown. Anyway, it’s really nice here. And so, to bring this back, a full day out in the turned-up-to-11 sunlight of Teotihuacan wasn’t really a big deal even with a hat and long-sleeved shirt.
At the risk of understating the whole day, there isn’t really a whole lot more to say about it that the pictures I took can’t say just say better. We made a few nice friends that day that we ended up roaming around with: a substitute teacher on break from California, a tiiiiiiny Peruvian woman whose occupation (or name for that matter) I never got and a rad Lithuanian who was on a three-month break doing some traveling same as myself and Andy. Though I will always respect how hard-working these Mexicans are, it got to pretty old pretty quick how much was being sold at Teotihuacan. No one is super aggressive but they are everywhere. Since jaguars used to be a big part of this culture’s traditional/ideals people were selling these little cat figures that when blown into, they made a sound a jaguar would make. So that was happening all day. Albeit annoying, they are just trying to make a living and once you nod your head with a wave a Gracias (no one says No Gracias here, just Gracias for No Thanks) they leave you alone.
This video is a little “windy” but turn the volume up and you can preeeeetty much hear what I am saying, the start is the worst:
What happened before that? Now that I am typing this out, I may have even enjoyed the day Andy and I spent at Basilica de Guadalupe a little more that Teotihuacan. Once again I will let you do the reading if it so interests you, but there is an old church here which is a huge pilgrimage site (which, according to Wiki, have been happening here uninterrupted since the early 1500s) for Catholics. Here, up a hill towards the rear of the church, the Virgin Mary (or, locally, Our Lady of Guadalupe) appeared to Juan Diego in the early 1500s asking him to built a church on the site in her honor. Long story short, Juan returned to the village with a shroud depicting the Virgin Mary and the story was born. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of something people wait their entire lives to see, but that piece of cloth is still on display here waaaay up this wall underneath a crown.
It may not be noticeable, but the chandelier in the image above looks like it’s being a little dragged to one side. Like the caption above, it’s because the church is sinking into the ground. All of Mexico City is built on a dry lake bed that was filled in by humans, that is, unnaturally. Tons of buildings around the City are sinking…someone will have to deal with that someday. Anyway, that day may have been more interesting than the pyramids because there was more of a variety to see. There’s the old ooooold church-the sinking one-and then a modern one across the square, which is huge and hosts masses and such. I got the idea the original church was too much of a relic to be having regular masses, though apparently tons of people come here every year and you know each and every one of them walks in the older church and gawks at everything.
A few days before that Mark and I headed up to Templo Mayor, which is the site of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlán, which was the capital center of the Aztecs when they were around. It’s pretty cool because this area is a major center of modern-day Mexico City as well. Not really in an economic sense but more of a cultural one. There’s a palace across the street that the president used to live in, but no longer, and right by the Templo Mayor is the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. Templo Mayor was interesting though, for it’s location and the fact that Mexican Officials were simply adding extra aqueducts to the city’s water system and accidentally discovered it in the 70s lol. I’m not sure why I think that’s so funny.
That’s it for now. Today Juan and I are going to the Chapultepec Castle. We agreed I would stay until Sunday and the next guy I thought I was going to stay with hasn’t gotten back to me, so I suppose I will perhaps do a little hostel hopping before I leave for Puebla, which I think will be my next city. For no reason at all, I feel I will be there within the week.
Lastly, some of you Floridians may recognize this symbol. Here’s a hint in case you do not…
More to come!