As the title suggests this is our last destination before we head back to London and real life, so this will be the last post for a while – until we find we need another adventure of course.
After a few fantastically relaxing days in San Marcos la Laguna it was time to head to Mexico City for our return flight to good old London. We’ve pre-booked a room at Hostal Dos Fridas y Diego, so from the airport we take a taxi straight there. Our Formula 1 driver of our taxi gets us to our destination in next to no time. We again notice wherever we look there is Police absolutely everywhere, and especially as we approach our hostel – we later learn that we’re slap in the middle of the district where most of the embassies are based, so that could explain the extra heavy police presence in our area.
The lady that welcomes us upon our arrival is very friendly and helpful and after a bit of problems with opening the lock to the room we’d booked we get relocated to a massive spacious room with two double and one single bed. The hostel is really colourfully decorated with the running theme of Frida Kahlo in mind of course – there are pictures of and by her everywhere.
To try to make the most out of our short stay here in Mexico City we have a browse through the various flyers in the reception and decide on booking up a full day excursion to the Teotihuacan Pyramids for the next day and a half day tour of the markets in the morning of the following morning before our flight back home.
On the morning of our excursion to the Teotihuacan Pyramids Hannah is unfortunately not feeling very well – it’s another bout with stomach upsets, so I have to set off on my own. As the pickup is before the start of breakfast service at our hostel they let me have free range of the kitchen and after a couple of fried eggs some fruit and coffee I’m ready to go. Luckily the tour company doesn’t charge for Hannah despite the last minute cancellation.
The group of our tour is quite small – it’s only six of us altogether. It’s a mix of French, Portuguese, German and English which gives our guide the opportunity to show off his language skills. Quite impressively he seems to manage all these languages very well, but he doesn’t attempt to talk to me in Norwegian… I can’t say I blame him for that though – not exactly a world language.
The tour starts with introductions and a little history lesson about the history of the Teotihuacan Pyramids, the ancient civilisation that built them, and about the discovery and excavation of the site. The journey down to the pyramids takes roughly an hour and after the guide finish our history-lesson we’re left to either have a bit of a rest, or like me just admiring the never ending urban landscape of this enormous city.
Before entering the site we have a mandatory stopover at an arts and craft market where we get a little demonstration of the traditions of hand crafts using a local cactus species and also the obsidian rock. By now I’m so used to these mandatory visits to crafts markets on every tour we’ve done that I would find it odd and unsettling if we didn’t stop at one. I’m actually very happy to visit this one as for once I can actually do a little bit of shopping – it’s the end of our travels so I don’t have worry about not having space in the backpack and the prospect of carrying around extra weight for weeks, or even months, as have been the reason for not going crazy shopping for all the lovely stuff we’ve encountered along our trip. Also, as Hannah might need a bit of cheering up after being stuck indoors in bed all day a couple of souvenirs might help her a bit.
After the shopping-stop it’s time for the main attraction of our tour the Teotihuacan Pyramids where we get about three hours to roam around after a short guided tour of The Palace of Quetzalpapalotl. Three hours sounds like an adequate amount of time to explore the site but I soon discover otherwise. The site is absolutely enormous but that is not the main problem – because it’s Easter Sunday the site is absolutely ram-packed with people, making it slightly challenging to climb the pyramids – there are queues everywhere and to get to the top of the main monument, the Pyramid of the Sun takes me about one and a half hour due to the unbelievable queue. I practically have to run back down to make it in time for the bus. I’m glad I started with the Pyramid of the Moon where there were less queuing or I might have only been able to see the one pyramid. The views from the top of the pyramids are amazing so it’s definitely worth the wait and the standing around in the sweltering heat under a relentlessly scorching sun – very fitting circumstances when climbing the Pyramid of the Sun of course.
After being close to having a sun-stroke we return to the artisan market we visited earlier for some lunch in their restaurant. It’s a buffet of locally traditional food, and it’s quite a spread they’ve laid out for us – my favourites are the cactus stew-like dish and some blackened chicken, all washed down by some nice Mexican beer of course.
After a lovely lunch it’s back to central Mexico City and a visit to The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe where the infamous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe hangs. None of us are particularly interested in this part of the tour – not even the guide… when one of our party asks whether he’s sad to be away from his family on this Easter Sunday he is quick to respond saying he’s not a Catholic and would otherwise spend the day in the sofa with DVDs and junk food. When he tells the story of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe his disbelief in the story shines through – I find that very amusing.
Our last stop is the Archaeological site of Tlatelolco, the Colonial Church of Santiago, and Plaza de las Tres Culturas (square of three cultures). Tlatelolco was apparently where the last stand of the Aztec against the Spaniards took place. The square next to the archaeological site is called the square of three cultures because of the surrounding pre-Hispanic ruins, the Colonial Church of Santiago, and the modern urban landscape of Mexico City meets here.
Returning to the hostel I learn that poor Hannah have been cooped up inside all day, which doesn’t sound very exciting. The only good thing about that is she’s been able to concentrate on her blogging all day and got a lot of typing done.
The next day, and it’s our last day of our five months adventure. We’d booked up a market tour and again have to leave the hostel before breakfast service. We take charge of the kitchen and cook our breakfast before checking out and arranging the storage of our backpacks with the lady in reception. All sorted we head over to the start-point of our tour in Hostel Amigo where the travel company is based. It’s not very far away and with the help of the metro we’re there in no time – but only to learn that the tour is unlikely to go ahead as there is only us two interested to do it today. We were under the illusion that when you book a tour and it’s confirmed it wouldn’t matter how many else were interested – the main clue being in the word confirmed… They still decide the tour is off, so we (slightly pissed off) decide to do our own tour of the markets, as they’re all within walking-distance. We first get a bit side-tracked as I wouldn’t mind having a look at Plaza de la Constitucion and a quick nose at the Cathedral – we’d passed it in the car the day before on our way to the Teotihuacan Pyramids (apparently it doesn’t really have a name, but it’s referred to either “The Cathedral” or the “Metropolitan Cathedral”). After this we head down to the Markets for our self-guided tour.
The first market is called Mercado de la Merced and is a very lively and colourful food market. The second one is called Mercado de Sonora, where you can find all sorts of pets, and some livestock as well, and it also has a section for all kinds of herbs and spices and all you need for practising voodoo. We had planned to go to a third market as well, the Mercado Flores Roman, but after the two previous ones we’re all marketed-out and decide to head for a restaurant for lunch.
After filling our bellies up with a lovely lunch we head back to our hostel to get ready for our flight back to London. We have ample time, enough to get changed and freshen up before our taxi comes to pick us up. Hannah have arranged with her brother to come and pick us up on arrival in London, so we head to the airport with the peace of mind that we’ll not have to fight our way through the busy tube with our enormous backpacks. Our flight is a fairly comfortable 11 hour flight and as we come out into the terminal building after picking up our bags Hannah’s brother and sister-in-law welcomes us with flowers, champagne, Christmas pudding and Easter eggs. It’s nice to be back after all this time and with such a welcome we feel very spoiled. We get into the car and start the drive through London to get home – it’s a really lovely sunny day and everything looks so beautiful in the sunlight as we glide through town. It’s such a nice feeling to recognise the surroundings for once and not having to keep a track of where we are and where we’re heading with the GPS on Google Maps in case we have a dodgy taxi driver that wants to rip us off by taking the long way around or to the wrong location and an expensive hotel where he’ll get commission. We know where we’re going this time, and we know we don’t have a dodgy driver – it’s a very comforting feeling.
After five months away it’s also going to be good to get back into working again – although I have of course been working with my photography all along my travels it’s going to be good to get back to commissioned work, and get some structure back into life. I wonder how long I will last before I have to go away for a holiday again though.