Guanajuato. Us en route, the autobus twisting and a curving through the hills. Dust swirling in all open windows, dancing in rays of sunlight gleaming in from open roof hatch. Passage through dark stone tunnels. Arrival in a new town nestled in the crevice of the dry hills. Perfect even weather. Monolith cathedrals a stones-throw distance from one another. Narrow cobblestone streets snaking between multi-color buildings so close to each other they obscure attempts at direction orientation. A little room on the planta baja behind the towering university. Poop in front of the door that multiplies like mitochondria, then disappears without a trace. The site of the beginnings of the Mexican Revolution. Climb to the statue and mirador for the nation’s hero. Medieval clothed musicians who lure you to buy tickets through public inclusive performances. A theme-less parade. We explored our heritage sister and I. We ate and drank to our heart’s content. We walked, and ate some more, and napped. At night we frequented the cantinas. Cantinas with menus dominated by mescal. La Inundación, El Incendio, La Chopería. Star dust children lounging in rustic rooms made of concrete and dark wood, azulejo bars. Speaking of the retrograding political climate of our country to the north. Two siblings mindful of the past, present and still-to-come. A string of moments in time. The culminations of 21 and 30 years respectively. A last meal at Truco 7. A trip to the place where flying starts and ends. Nuestra partida. Nuestra despedida. Te amo México.
After 12 years, I return. My uncle, sister and I arranged for our Uber driver from the previous day to take us there, wait a few hours and take us back to the city. Unfortunately he avoided the toll road and the ride ended up being longer than it should’ve been. We finally arrived ready to rid ourselves of our cagey confines.
On the way in was a museum which wasn’t there during my last visit. It was small but well laid out and informative. The to-scale model of ancient Teotihuacan was impressive and helped but the place in perspective. I learned that the indigenous people that built the city modeled it as a representation of the cosmos. The larger pyramid the sun, the lesser the moon. The Moon at the end or head of the avenue of the dead. This placement got me thinking. It wasn’t stated anywhere but maybe the inhabitants of the city viewed the moon as their Hades. For many cultures the the land of the dead is below the earth’s surface. Maybe the original people there believed it was an outerworld instead of an underworld. You live you life by the abundance of the sun and when you die you join in the slow trot down the avenue of the dead direction the moon. According to archaeological evidence, the original inhabitants burn the city down themselves. Others inhabited it throughout the centuries after that. The city was deserted when the Spanish arrived. Maybe they had already joined the avenue on the other side of this plane. I used to always confuse Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan. Nevermore Lenore.
We made our way to el Piramide del Sol. A huge line wrapped all about the western edge of the enormous base. My uncle kept grumbling something along the lines of: “Back in my day there was no line. This is crazy.” I too didn’t remember waiting in any line during my last visit, but I thought it was funny him spouting that iconic old-man phrase. The line did take quite a long time. While in line my sister bought this jaguar-head whistle than when operated correctly made the sound of a jaguar growl and roar. The trick is to pronounce a Spanish ‘r’, or trilled /r/, while simultaneously creating a small passage with your other hand that covers the small opening at other end of the apparatus. Our attempts didn’t sound quite like those of the men selling them but we got close a few times.
Once at the summit I realized that since I had last been there ‘they’ had added concrete with jagged rocks. It was not comfortable to stand much less sit up there for more than a few minutes. I’m sure this was intentional. Many cities push out their homeless populations in a similar way. They add bars in the middle of park benches so no one can sleep there or they fence off areas under bridge overpasses. I’m not a fan of these not-so-subtle ‘fuck-offs.’ There was a line on the steep decline down as well.
Much further down the main ancient avenue was el Piramide de la Luna. I found it much more enjoyable there. Because of it’s distance away from the entrances, only a small fraction of people made the trek there after scaling the Sun. The summit of the Moon is flat and there are many nice edges to sit legs dangling. The view is breathtaking from that vantage point.
I felt that the place had a powerful energy. I’ve found that many of these ancient structures have a similar power. I noticed it at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The same feeling was at Le Mont St. Michel in France, and the Pantheon in Rome. I think that the locations of these structures and those like them were not chosen <em>par hasard</em>. They stand at the crossroads or conglomerations of energy fields. Focal points if you will. These locations tap into that and maybe even structures like pyramids might magnify it. I believe ancient peoples knew this. At the very least, I have the feeling that there is more to these types of places than meets the eye. Being there reminded me of a phrase from Deepak Chopra –
<em>”I am space, I am the sun. I am the directions. Above and below. I am the gods. I am the demons. I am all beings. I am darkness. I am the earth. I am the ocean. I am the dust, the wind, the fire, in all this world. I am omnipresent. How can there be anything but me? Me, a spirit?” </em>
After we scaled la Luna, we exited out the incorrect gate. Our driver was not there and our whereabouts were unrecognizable. We started walking in the supposed direction of our original entrance. On the way we grabbed some giant micheladas. Droooool. We ended up calling our guy and he came to meet us where we were. We got some very different and delicious tacos at a nearby stand. When I think of tacos, I think of the typical smallish ones with corn tortillas. I usually need at least 6 to feel satisfied. So, I ordered 4 for each of us. Bistec con nopales. Turns out these were gi-normous Azteca tacos in huge blue corn tortillas. Each one was like 3 average-sized tacos. We started laughing every time they brought another plate of those monster tacos. But hey, in the end we finished them all.
After micheladas and tacos. We were all done for. Our driver transported 3 big sleeping babies back to the city. He was awesome. Gracias Jorge, esa tarde fue perfecto y te agradezco por tus conversaciones simpáticas y por nos haber llevado.
First day in Mexico City. AUS > DFW, DFW > MEX. Sister and I flew first class thanks to our uncle who works for airline. A classic rags to riches scenario. Two kids dressed to the nines for the occasion, but not able to figure out right away how the seat gadgets work. Out of our element, we asked hesitantly if the alcoholic drinks were really free, not wanting to rack up a bill. Bloody Marias and high-fives ensued. We arrived at our destination and snaked our way through airport to the metro. Two Mexican-Americans swallowed up by a sea of people. A city sweltering, busting at the seams. Grime, sweat, dust and dreams. An hour trip. Two line changes and an arrival at our stop <em>Insurgentes</em>. A confused walk around the rotunda. Thank you universe for the app Maps.me. We dropped the bags off at our bed&breakfast. The young guy at reception had a nice vibe about him and we chatted with him for a while. Turns out he and his family drive once a year all the way to the outlet mall in San Marcos, Texas, to stock up on clothing. We received word that our uncle would join us for a couple days in the burgeoning capital but we had a few hours til then.
I can’t just sit down and relax when I arrive in a new place, no matter how tired. I feel there’s so much to see in an exciting place. 5 blocks away to restaurant Casa de Toño. Forty plus people outside waiting to get in during lunch hour. We took a numbered ticket and 30 mins later we were eating some of the best Mexican food we have had the fortune to lay our tastebuds on. Gigantic prehistoric-sized flautas. Afternoon Micheladas verdaderas, not those cheap beer and lime numbers found in the States. Huge liter micheladas packed with clamato, sauza inglesa (Worchestershire), and lime. The glass rim covered in delicious tamarindo chili powder.
Thus newly energized by a caloric intake beyond daily recommendation, we walked to Chapultepec park. We sat on a cool, hard, intricate wrought-iron bench. My sister took a siesta and became an unwitting model for my artistic photography attempts.
Our feet throbbing, we found our way to said uncle’s hotel at the appointed hour to meet at. I played a trick on him by calling from reception in an angry voice speaking Spanish telling him to come to reception immediately… or else. The sun setting, refracting off the haze and smog of the city, we went to the Zócalo. The main cathedral, as with many colonial cathedrals in Latin America, had a dark energy to it. Most likely because it was erected by and in spite of the blood, sweat and tears of the indigenous. We downed some otherworldly tacos Al Pastor at a tiny joint and we meandered back to our area of lodging.
Not one block south of sister and I’s hotel was a bar that surpassed our hopes for in a cool nightcap locality. Swings instead of seats. salsas made from various fruits, an array of artisanal Mezcals and sweet music. Se llamaba el <em>Guapachoso</em>, Avenida Oaxaca, metro Insurgentes. My company didn’t seem to have the same enthusiasm for the earthy spirits that I do. A few tragos and we called it a night. A whirlwind of a first day in the capital city. A journey begun, many more mescal-fueled songs to be sung.