Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 3 a.m.: "They are not Maya, nor Aztec, but Teotihuacanos"

Teotihuacan has been on my "to-do" list for quite a while. Rumor has it that this pyramid complex is laid out much like Giza, Egypt--with similar pyramid dimensions, direction and laid out along the same star cluster : Orion's Belt. --all this I learned from the History channel--- So with all this "knowledge" we proceeded to visit the ruins.

"They are not Maya, nor Aztec, but Teotihuacanos"

We toured using the guidebook, "Teotihuacan History, Art and Monuments" from Mexico's Institute of Archaeology and History. The original name of this site is "place of the gods", it was continually inhabited from 100 BCE to near 1000 AD. Beginning as concentrated villages, this area grew with the population and became a communal ceremonial center, with the first 2 pyramids (Moon and Sun) built and completed by 150 AD. The third pyramid, Temple of Quetzalacoatl, was completed between 1 and 200 AD. Massive building and remodeling projects, a flourishing economy,  political and religious practices continued through about 900 AD, when internal conflicts and external attacks began to play havoc with the culture. Teotihuacan was completely abandoned by 1000 AD.

Teotihuacan has been noted for its ability to utilize underground water and collecting rain, drains (still visible), artisan workshops, dwelling complexes markets, streets, temples (an understatement!), palaces, large ceremonial center and districts where "other" Mesoamericans lived who had moved in to the area.

The gods associated with Teotihuacan were: Tlaloc (god of rain), Chalchiutlicue (goddess of water) and Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent).

The site is 2km long, stretching along The Avenue Of The Dead, encompassing the 3 large pyramid structures: the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in the south, Temple of the Sun a little over midway and the Temple Of The Moon on the north end. The currently excavated area is a small fraction of what lies in the surrounding area.

We arrived at 8:30 a.m. on a misty morning, to a bevy of hot air balloons over the ruins. A beautiful sight! Watching them silently float over the pyramids---
Balloons Over Pyramid Of The Moon
We entered Puerta 1. We paid $57pesos ($4.52usd) each and $45pesos ($3.57usd) to park the car in an unmarked parking lot--(where, much to our dismay, we later found ourselves blocked in! We had the entrance guard call the Police - who never did show up. However, in about 15 minutes, one of the owners returned, girlfriend and popsicle in tow, and without a "Fine, Howdy-Do?" pulled out!! Hint: park along the periphery of the lot, against the fence, as close to the entrance as possible, leave no room for others to block you in!!)

Passing through the visitor center and one of the museums, we were immediately accosted by vendors--obsidian this-and obsidian-that, jaguar whistles, bows and arrows, jewelry, trinkets, blankets----pretty much "whatever" touristy thing you can imagine. These vendors were littered all around the site--so, if you had a craving for a trinket, it was never too far away.

After weaving through the maze of vendors, we climbed the stairs straight ahead to the Citadel and Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Up a leg numbing 29 stairs to view the Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl sculptures.
Temple of Quetzalcoatl



Then down the quadricep cramping staircase and onto the Avenue of the Dead. This road is 2km long dead ending at the Pyramid of the Moon. It is lined with temple after temple of various sizes and the elevation changes a few times. The Pyramid of the Sun (the largest one) is on the right about 3/4 of the way down.
Avenue Of The Dead
1/2 way down Avenue Of The Dead

Almost there....

We made it all the way to the Moon and back! Next to the Moon were 2 temple areas that still had some original artwork.
Temple Of The Moon

Palace of Quetzal-Papalotl

Palace Of The Jaguars

Temple Of The Feathered Conches

You may still climb the Pyramid of the Sun--we overheard some other Americans talking about a 1 hour wait, single file line..I'm sure it's an amazing view.....
Pyramid Of The Sun (from the Moon's point of view)

Temple Of The Sun

the Pyramid of the Moon seemed to have no restrictions--but, alas, we did not climb up there either...

Funny aside---we think we saw Jerry Garcia!! No kidding, dressed as a Guru......

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