Today we ventured to several places so that I could share with Brian what I feel are some of the coolest things about the Mexico City area. First, however, we needed to fuel up for our long day. Our B&B once again amazed us with a fresh and delicious breakfast. Today, it was eggs with fresh salsa, beans and chips. It was spicy! Good thing I had some freshly squeezed orange juice and papaya to cool off my tongue! Fortunately for us, the weather cooperated. It was an absolutely beautiful day here. Many people think that Mexico City is tropical because it is south of the US, but it is not. It is quite springlike here most of the year. Our temperatures have ranged from 55-75. I haven’t been too hot even once in my time here. I could definitely get used to this!
For our main adventure today, we headed toward the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Teotihuacan. Most people simply know of this sight as “those huge pyramids outside of Mexico City.” This was an ancient meso-american city that at one point was home to more than 125,000 people. The most distinguishing landmarks are the pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon. We climbed them both, plus a half a dozen other smaller pyramid-like structures. Talk about high intensity training! Between the altitude, the sun and the steps, we got an incredible workout today! Here are some pictures that capture our time at Teotihuacan. One of my favorites is of me taking part in a sun prayer at the top of the pyramid of the sun with a group of international travelers. It was a precious moment with sun beating down on us as we asked God to heal us, warm us and strengthen us.
We wanted to be efficient today so instead of taking public transportation, we hired a private driver named Ricardo to transport us from place to place. For $85USD, we had door to door service all day long. It was the best money we’ve spent here! After we had had enough at the pyramids, we went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is located just outside the main downtown area. Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. During the time of the Spanish conquest (1500s), there was a push to convert native people to Christianity. It wasn’t until the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to a peasant farmer named Juan Diego that the indigenous people of Mexico began to convert. She is a BIG DEAL here in Mexico and around the world. Millions of visitors travel to the Basilica each year, most specifically on her feast day which is December 12th. There are several churches on the property, but the current worship sight is the modern building with the blue circus-like roof. The entire sight was impressive and the grounds were immaculate. We especially enjoyed seeing the original basilica which is now sinking into the ground. The picture doesn’t do it justice. The highlight of the Basilica is the tilma (cloth) that was worn by Juan Diego that contains the image of Guadalupe on it. It hangs over the alter, but visitors can actually go beneath the altar and ride on people movers to take photos of it while masses are going on above. It’s a strange, but intriguing way of making sure that thousands of visitors per day are able to see the miraculous tilma without disrupting the business of the church. I am really glad we spent time here as it was a place I had not visited in previous trips.
We asked our driver to drop us off at the Museo Soumaya in the trendy Polanco neighborhood. This is the newest museum in Mexico City and is the gift of Carlos Slim to the city. Carlos Slim is the wealthiest man in Mexico (think Donald Trump). He opened this art museum about three years ago and it is not only open on Mondays (when all other museums are closed), but it is free to everyone. We enjoyed walking through this modern museum and especially enjoyed his Rodin sculpture exhibit on the top floor.
We walked to a Starbucks after leaving the museum so that we could get a cold drink and recharge our phones. The Starbucks that we found was in a very, high fashion mall that was guarded by men with machine guns. We were severely underdressed for being in this mall. Apparently, the Polanco neighborhood is where the rich and famous eat, play and stay when they are in Mexico City.
We grabbed a taxi to go back to the hotel for a rest. I took the first nap of my trip and it felt awesome! We didn’t want to sleep through happy hour so we got up and, changed clothes and headed to the guest house for a cocktail. The tilma at the Basilica wasn’t the only miracle I witnessed today. Note the jeans on Brian. A true miracle indeed!
We perused tour books, talked to the hotel staff and read TripAdvisor reviews before deciding on La Capital for dinner. It is a swanky restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine in an artistic way. Usually, reservations are needed, but on a Monday night, the place was not crowded at all. I started with a mezcal mojito. Whew! I had to sip slowly on this all night. It was delicious, but very potent. We then shared a cochinita pibil appetizer. Pretty much spicy pulled pork with picked onions. Note the fancy presentation. Brian had a steak with potatoes and i enjoyed a delicious ceviche with shrimp, jicama (my new favorite) and mango. We also shared a spicy pork torta (sandwich) that had avocado on it. Brian actually ate it! We also shared the saratoga-style chips on the side. Finally, even though we were pretty full, we decided that we couldn’t pass up the chocolate chile dessert. This was basically a chocolate lava cake with sorbet, raspberry sauce and an edible hibiscus flower. Yummy! With tip, our total was $74USD which we thought was very reasonable compared to what we would have paid for this type of dinner at a major US city. We are only eating one meal out a day, so we didn’t mind splurging! The memories we are creating are priceless!
We head to Chapultepec Park tomorrow to explore the natural side of Mexico City.