Sun and Roses
When we left Los Angeles over a month ago, we received an unsettling but inspiring email from our friend Chad just as we were hopping onto the highway to depart into the unknown. Chad had been battling with brain cancer for the past couple of years and let us know that he needed to have yet another brain surgery. His third one! His email in this tough situation had a clear message: “Stop and smell the fucking roses […] Do the things that make you think (and sometimes say, out loud) “Man, I love the world! Man, the world is really fucking beautiful sometimes!” Find that kind of stuff, and live it.” Read more at Chad’s blog here. It’s worth it.
This courageous spirit had inspired the beginning of our journey. And luckily we had found angels and guardians on our side.
Leaving Mexico City we stocked up on provisions in the local market, and had one more breakfast with our lovely friends.
And so we set off to Teotihuacan!
Traveling in the off-season has been very rewarding so far, but it has its pros and cons. There is definitely never any trouble finding a place to camp, and if we do meet people it’s the serious-traveler-kind. For example, we met the lovely writers of our camping guide book “Traveler’s Guide to Camping Mexico” aka “the bible”, Terry and Mike Church who have been on the road for more than 20 years, and Paula & Renan, a couple from Brazil planning to travel the world for three years.
But it’s also a bit strange to find these camp sites full of deserted dreams. Teotihuacan’s RV park had several German, and Belgian mega-vehicles geared for serious overland adventures. I don’t even want to know how much it cost to get them over the Atlantic. Other than that, the park was so empty that for two days no one even cared about us except the lady that came to feed the dogs.
Mexico is full of dogs! (Sorry for posting so many dog pictures, but these are for Lara and Erdem.)
And Mexico is also too full of Mexican food, so we decided to change it up with Turkish Fasulye.
The next morning we set off to visit the archeological site. Lucky as we are, the president of Mexico and some ambassador had the same idea and the site was teeming with military and police and we were told we couldn’t get in for the next three hours. Since the site is gigantic we were at least allowed to enter from all the way on the other side, where we spent our time exploring colourful events and the smaller ruins.
Finally we saw the president’s helicopter take off over the pyramid of the sun.
Teotihuacan is certainly the most massive and expansive archeological site we had ever seen. I had been wondering what it would be like to climb up the steep steps of these huge temples I had seen in documentaries and art history classes before. After having done it, I can say, it’s much less scary and hard than I thought, like so many other things in life.
Even dogs can do it! This one seemed to have lost its owner in the crowd.
There was no evidence of written text found except some ideographic inscriptions. It’s quite surprising for such a young civilization considering what the Romans were doing on the other side of the globe around the same time…
Chad had mentioned how these pyramids had left a strong impression in his mind as a child when he first visited them. We thought it was nice how his blog and childhood memory merged so nicely.
Teotihuacan is believed to have been established at about 100 BC, and became one of the world’s largest cities at that time with possibly more than 150.000 inhabitants of various origins living in multi-family compounds. Immigrants have travelled to the “City of Gods” from as far as Guatemala. People of many ethnicities have signed up as warriors. Some were even willing to be sacrificed in its honor. In fact, Teotihuacan had become so large at one point, natural resources in the area were insufficient to sustain it. Skeletons showing signs of malnutrition have been found. People must have lost their faith and respect to the rulers. The monuments and the palaces of the upper class were burnt to the ground around 550 AD, which is believed to be a sign of internal unrest. A revolution!
It seems the “children of the sun” are generally rebellious. Most of the churches in the current town of San Juan Teotihuacan are oriented the same way as the old temples, so people could continue to pray to the Sun instead of the new Christian God the Spaniards were trying to introduce. The day we left there was a procession to the church accompanied by ear-drum-exploding-firecrackers every two seconds… Mexican’s love to party. They were celebrating simply because they were celebrating the week before. That’s what they do. They’re certainly an inspiration when it comes to “learning how to smell the roses”!