Outside of the Parque Delta Mall, our Uber driver pulled up curbside with his windows rolled down. I considered how hot and humid the weather was and wondered why our Uber driver and half the cars I had seen in Mexico City neglected air conditioning. When we got in, he put the windows up, left the A.C off and left me wondering if he was trying to kill us.
As we drove through Mexico City’s traffic-clogged streets, I reconsidered our initial plan – ride uber to the metro station then take the metro buses to Teotihuacan Pyramids. Neither of us felt like stepping out of the car to face what we assumed would be an A.C- free bus packed with people. So we changed the destination and accepted the extra 400 peso cost.
Tip- If you have the cash to spare, you can take an Uber but the bus is easy to use, cheap – 52 pesos per person one way- and has A.C so the joke was on us- I know this because we had to take the bus back to the city.
Green cactus plants (Nopales) popular in Mexico City’s landscape and cuisine lined the sandy driveway that led to the pyramids. We paid the 70 peso entrance fee to an elderly man who spoke both Spanish and English, and almost immediately found ourselves negotiating tour services with guides. One of the guides, who was clearly tourist-savvy offered to show us around for 700 pesos (~ 40 USD). For a 2hr tour, this wasn’t an unreasonable price but in our opinion, we didn’t need the guide + $40 could buy us both lunch and dinner. So we politely declined, grabbed a map, which in retrospect wasn’t necessary since the route is obvious, and set out on our own. Teotihuacan was not just the location of pyramids but a bustling city. People lived, worshipped, traded and educated themselves in this city. It is considered one of the biggest influences of Mesoamerican culture & is the most visited historical site in Mexico.
Navigating through vendors, hordes of school children and steep steps, we reached the top of two pyramids and paused there to take photos and catch our breath. At 7,500 feet above sea level, the air was less oxygenated and if our breathing was anything to go by, we were both feeling it.
Tip – We stayed hydrated with water & paced ourselves on the climb to help mitigate the effects of high altitude.
After the second pyramid, climbing started to get exhausting. The altitude was giving me a headache and my sandals (which I wore because I didn’t expect a hike) were hanging by a thread; this wasn’t the beach and I wasn’t interested in being barefoot.
So we skipped the final pyramid and walked the sacred “Avenue of the dead” [pictured below] – a long walkway with a view of the pyramids- towards the exit. It was here that a lady stopped us to take photos with her daughter for reasons solely pertaining to the color of our skin. Either that, or she thought we were celebrities. Somewhere in Mexico, our faces are on a strangers phone… at least she asked for permission.
Towards the exit was Quezalopapalotl – an indigenous Nahuatl word meaning beautiful butterfly. It’s a small open-air space with ancient indigenous markings and murals. Apparently, Teotihuacan was popular for its murals which often featured bright colors and stencils of animals. If you look closely, you can see ancient markings on the stone pillars. The colors on the stone walls and the way the red of the walls looked against the sky made for a stunning aesthetic.
I left the old city impressed with the preservation efforts. For somewhere that receives 4 million + visitors, whoever is in charge has done a superb job of ensuring that Teotihuacan is around for 4 million more visitors in the years to come.
I like to visit places where history has been preserved; museums, Mayan cities, old towns… Although I don’t like to label places as “must-visit”, I will say that if Teotihuacan has piqued your interest, by all means, put it on your list.
Have you been to Mexico City? If not, would you visit & climb a bunch of pyramids? let me know in the comments.
thank you for reading!
all photos shot & edited iPhone 8+
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