It's hard to believe our time in Mexico City is finally coming to an end. We've been here a month now but it really doesn't feel like it. There are still a few boxes that will be left unticked for now but we've been trying to fill in the gaps since the last post.
Perhaps the biggest omission so far had been Teotihuacan, the ancient Mesoamerican city an hour's bus ride North East of DF. Founded around 100BC, hitting it's zenith around 100AD and being sacked and systematically burned around 550 AD it once housed around 125,000 people. That's nearly three times as many people as Albury! Wikipedia tells me it sixth largest city in the world during its epoch which is impressive given it overlaps with the Roman empire.
It also has the 3rd largest pyramid in the world, which we clambered to the top of. I was relieved to see younger, fitter looking people also struggling as I gasped for air. It doesn't help that it's 2,500m above sea level either and the wind was blowing just strongly enough to make your legs wobble an unsettling amount.
So it was all very impressive. The fact that stands out to me, is that the city remained a mythological entity after it's collapse. It continued to be venerated by various pre-Hispanic groups including the Aztecs who, 700 - 800 years later claimed a common ancestry and would conduct pilgrimages out to the site. It's the really ancient society that inspired the not-quite so ancient society.
Later in the week we ventured back out to Chapultepec Park, this time to see the Chapultepec Castello. It is North America's only royal palace that actually had royals in residence and commands panoramic views of Mexico city which provides a, illuminating perspective of the valley.
It's no secret that I love a castle and this one really stood up to many of it's European rivals.
With a few hours to kill in the park we decided to return to the Anthropology museum, this time choosing to focus on a few key areas, the Aztecs and the Teotihuacans. It really is a spectacularly good museum that we were once again ushered out of at closing time, still yearning to see all the bits we'd missed.
Other activities included a return to the middle-class suburb of Polanco, this time to check out a couple of art museums we had missed last time were were you there: The Soumaya Museum and Museo Jumex. The Soumaya Museum is an architectural marvel, housing an impressive collection of art from around the world including the likes of Rubens, Dyke, Rembrandt, Rivera, Tamayo, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Vlaminck, Chagall and Miró. Like I say, impressive.
Perhaps most impressive of all was the top floor which is largely sculpture, with Rodin and Dali comprising the vast majority of the works.
Museo Jumex is more contemporary in focus with an Allen Rippersburg retrospective and a collection focusing on Latin American artists from the New York Guggenheim collection.
Our final outing for our time in the capital was all the way down to the outer suburb of Xochimilco where there is an elaborate canal system that had been built by the Aztecs. Nowadays one hires a large, Mexican-style gondola-type boat and is rowed around for your allotted time. We spent an hour floating along which was remarkably tranquil. The boats seemed to primarily contain Mexican families who would bring a whole meal along or buy bits and pieces from the vendors that float past on their own boats. Some of the 'vendor boats' even contained entire Mariachi bands if you're in the mood for a serenade.
While we were out there we also went out to Museo Dolores Olmedo, a massive old hacienda which provides a quiet refuge from the surrounding chaos. Olmedo was a patron of Diego Rivera's and the homestead houses a large collection of Rivera and Kahlo works. Unfortunately, the Kahlo collection was on loan in Russia.
So that's it for Mexico City. We've got a couple of nights here on our way from Cuba to Melbourne so there are a couple of small things we'll do then. Otherwise we head south now, first to Taxco.
I'm really looking forward to a comfortable bed, a decent shower but will definitely miss the guy that walks up and down the street selling water at the top of his lungs from about 7am... not. That said, we really do love this city and will honestly be sad to see the other side of it.
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