Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mexico City, Day 3: Teotihuacan and the Sounds of the Streets

Know thyself.

It's a pretty good adage for life, and particularly travel.

I know how much I enjoy--and have derived from--journeying to different places, predominantly cities but not just.

And with certain precautions, limitations and sacrifices--or at least trade-offs--I am comfortable and content to travel alone.

I am certainly not the fittest person in the world, and may occasionally need to take respites or find benches where others may not.

But though my legs and feet can grow rather sore, I largely soldier on, and even those who have no trouble taking 10-mile hikes for fun may be challenged to keep up with me on a day like yesterday where I toured 4 museum-type attractions in roughly 6 hours.

If you knew how much walking and climbing was involved in seeing the Diego Rivera murals at the Secretaria de Educacion Publica, the huge Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Castle and the Museum of Modern Art, you may more appreciate that I'm not such a wuss when it comes to making the most of my tourist adventures.

But in taking a guided tour today to see the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan--about 30 miles north of Mexico City--unlike several other members of the group, I opted not to climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun nor the Pyramid of the Moon.

I make no apologies for this and I don't even regret it. 

First of all, the tour leader didn't climb either. So it wasn't like climbing to the apexes was essential for learning more about the ancient city that existed--if I have it straight--from roughly 100 BC to 750 AD, topping out at a population of 175,000.

Sure I would've taken a few more photos I didn't get a chance to, but particularly in the case of the larger Pyramid of the Sun, I'd have been standing atop the most photograhically impressive structure on the grounds.

So although I've--admittedly in younger years--climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Palazzo Vecchio, the effort/risk-to-benefit ratio precluded me from even trying.

I really have doubts I could have made it to the top even if I tried, and getting down would have scared me even more, as these were steep, rocky steps with no railings.

Even on several smaller structures I had to climb, and from the lowest tier of the Pyramid of the Sun, I often opted to butt-slide my way down.

No point risking a heart attack, tumbling down the stairs or even great discomfort--then and later--especially out in the middle of nowhere where there weren't even rest room facilities.

But the tour otherwise--booked through and led locally by Amigo Tours, with an archaeologist named Lise--was quite good and I'm glad I went on it.

Even if I didn't hit the highest heights.

Getting back to my hotel about 3:00, I took a nap and then wandered the streets, which was rather wonderful.

I heard drummers, saw dancers, heard a violinist and watched a damn good jazz band, all out in the streets.

Then I went to the famed Cafe de Tacuba, where I had dinner and heard a Mariachi band for part of it.

I'm back in my room now but feel comfortable enough to walk five minutes to the Zinco Jazz Club in just a bit.

But traveling by myself--other than to New York and London, where theater presents built-in evening plans--I often find myself not doing much with my nights.

Without a categorical for either, I really don't drink or dance, so even if you told me I could get to and fro the hottest club in town--here and elsewhere--without any problems, worries, risks or even undue cost, I still wouldn't go.

And intrepid as I like to be, I've decided trying to get to Plaza Garibaldi, with its many mariachi bands, or the much further Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, isn't worth any theoretical discomfort I may feel.

But there are many undoubtedly enjoyable things prudence--fully justifiable or not--would preclude me from doing even in Chicago.

So I've been having a great time in Mexico City the only way I know how.

By knowing myself.

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