Debconf6 day -4: The Pyramids
Yesterday it became clear that the daytrip during the conference will not go to the Teotihuacan Aztec pyramids as it is too far, which is a shame. For that reason a small group of people organized a separate trip to Teotihuacan ("the Pyramids" from now on). 11 people boarded 3 taxis which we hired for the whole day for a price of 1500 pesos per taxi per day (~150 USD) which averaged to 410 pesos per person.
Before we left I managed to climb a stadium wall and take a couple of nice shots of a local vulcano and sneaky picture of Gunar running laps on the stadium at 7 in the morning with his wife. No wonder he looks so much better this year. (Comparison pictures will be put here)
I also managed to notice that we do not have Internet again. Manyana.
We ordered the taxis to arrive at 8:30, so when we gathered at the place at 8:40 we were expecting to have to wait a bit, but to our surprise the taxis were already there and waiting for us.
The drive took three hours. On a taxi. No wonder it was too far for a daytrip.
There is a lot of cars and a lot of roads in Mexico. People here are not too worried about fuel consumption here and it is not too surprising to me - the gas here costs between 6 and 8 pesos per liter. That might also be the reason why cars here are so incredibly loud - when a truck goes by on the road that is a couple kilometers away from the parliament tower in the hotel it sounds like a small plane is flying by nearby. Also the number of road is so huge and the structure is so chaotic that even taxi drivers did not know the route - they had to stop and ask for directions multiple times. Even when going back. Trying to stay on the same route. We got lost more then twice.
Along the way to the Pyramids we stopped for breakfast in small roadside place somewhere. It was a family owned place where you have cactus tortillas with different fillings heated up on a big metal plate that is heated up by burning wood. there also was coffee in large cups and soft drinks. Tortillas and soft drinks were 8 pesos each, coffee was 5 pesos and the beer that the girls went to get for us from other cafes along the road were 10 pesos each. Wonderful food for incredibly cheap prices. After we all ate we threw money in the pile according to how much each of us wanted to pay and gave it to the owner. She looked at them money and started protesting that is is much too much, but we insisted. Very heartwarming place.
We bought large bottles of water and moved on.
It is quite hard to take good photos of the Mexican landscape because of two reasons: first there is huge number of large power lines going in all directions all across the land. And the other thing is the smog - you just can not take clear pictures of distant objects, the smoke or fog or something is covering the whole place. I suspect that it is related to the number of cars here, but I can not be entirely sure about that. I do not to intend to trash Mexico, but the fact is that Mexicans do. Along the roads near the Mexico City all roadsides are littered with all kinds of thrash - bottles, plastic bags, metal pieces, tires, ...
On the other hand I have noticed that Mexicans do like IT - in every small town I noticed a computer shop with Internet. Some shops even promptly have Tux painted on their walls. It is quite strange to see that every wall is used for some kind of announcement or advertisement. Even a barely standing wall in the middle of the field between towns was used as an advertisement platform for a hotel in one of the towns.
After long wondering around we finally arrived at the Pyramids. There was additional tickets to buy there - a 150 peso ticket for the car and a 45 peso ticket for each person. Each of three entrances to the Pyramid area has a range of souvenir shops and also there is a huge lot of private sellers walking all around the place and trying to sell you the same stuff for double or triple the price. The standing advice is to go to shops and negotiate prices there.
We went in the entrance number 1 (which is how I would recommend anyone to do) which is at the south end of the Alley of the Dead. We started the excursion by climbing the small pyramid of the temple of the serpent god. The excavation was still going on there and it was interesting to watch. And it also was a warm-up for the other climbs.
After that we moved on along the Alley of the Dead. After crossing the "river" (it was like 5 cm wide at this time of year) we were distracted by a sign pointing sideways that said "Museo (800m)". It sounded like a nice idea, so we went along. Unfortunately the road curves to the north and in the end the museum itself is almost next to the sun pyramid. So if you happen to go there I would advice you to go along the Alley of the Dead to the Pyramid of Sun and go to the museum from there. There is also a toilet and an ice cream shop next to the museum.
After visiting the museum I went back to the "river" so that I could walk along the alley. There are several overwalks across the alley, so you either have to walk up and down the stairs a lot or walk up on the wall there.
Then we came to the Pyramids. They are huge. Huge. Several millions of tons of rocks. Hundreds of meters of steep stairs going up. And a rubble on the top covering the temple site. The view is phenomenal. There will be a lot of photos from there including one of the traditional tourist type where I am sitting on the top of the sun pyramid with the moon pyramid in the background. Some of us did not make it the top of the first pyramid. It was quite hard. Coming down feels even more scary as the stairs are very steep.
In front of the main Moon Pyramid there is the main square of the ancient city. In the center of it is the sacrificial altar. If you stand in the center of it, you can almost feel the sea of blood that was spilled onto these stones during the golden age of the Aztec civilization. It is a powerful feeling that could have gotten a bit scary if there were not so many people around.
The climb to the Moon Pyramid was much harder then to the Sun Pyramid, it could have been because it was the second one or because it is more steep and with a higher pile of rubble on top (where there are no stairs). After a few stops most of us did climb to the top and took even more wonderful photos of the view around us. I must say that this was well worth all the effort, time and expense.
After coming down from the pyramids, we went out via the exit number 3 which has the largest number of souvenir shops and did some shopping there. It was 15:30 by then and the souvenir shops were starting to close down.
We were recommended a restaurant near the pyramids for our lunch, so we went there. The restaurant is located in the south direction from the pyramids and is almost on the continuation of the Alley of the Dead. The pyramids are still well visible from the windows.
Just as our meals in the hotel, this meal was very nice and very Mexican - mashed beans in every dish, meat and the hot green stuff which is actually called "the green sauce".
The way back after that was longer, but uneventful - we did get lost a bit more then usual, but it was the drivers problem.
Altogether the trip took 12 hours. We really were exhausted after that.