What to do, la lucha libre, Teotihuacan, mezcal, mariachis, la corrida, national museum of anthropology.
We realized quite quickly that our three days planned to visit Mexico, had to change into 1 week, and more! We were charmed by its modernity, its tons of activities for tourists, its artistic side, its talent for theater and humor, its gastronomy and of course, by one of the most visited places in Mexico, the Teotihuacan archaeological site. We actually went through all kinds of emotions during our stay, to come out with an experience of this capital with a 10/10!
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I will teach you or remind you that Mexicans have a revolutionary soul, and you can learn more about it at the Mexico City Revolt Museum. It is a people ready to stand up against injustice, very close to its neighbor, it is well known, Latinos are hot-blooded. They also have their hearts on their sleeves, always open to helping someone. We even explored their Trotskyist side, visiting the museum of Leon Trotsky, a Russian-Ukrainian Marxist revolutionary who played a vital role in the Bolshevik victory for the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. From 1929, he spent his life in exile and tried to overthrow the Stalinist party until his assassination in 1940 in Mexico City. A great introduction to this part of our history that we were about to discover around the Black Sea in the coming months!
Stone of the Sun
Certainly one of the most impressive museums in the world is located there: do not miss the chance to have your photo taken next to the Stone of the Sun, one of the most emblematic and famous Aztec works, at the National Museum of anthropology of Mexico. People often believe it to be a calendar, but in reality archaeologists believe that this disc was probably a receptacle and sacrificial altar, carved in 1479 CE.
We had the opportunity to attend a Corrida show. You know, in popular imagery, the bullfighters who shout “olé” with their red capes, running away from a mad bull?
It's still like that today. But in my Canadian naivete, where there is no such representation, I had a great heartbreak when I discovered the reality of this spectacle.
When we arrived at the event, anti-bullfighting protesters called us murderers for attending. Something was starting to make me regret my choice. I had read on the internet of course how it was going to go, but my little voice of reason told me: “It can’t be that bad if so many people go there…”
Because yes, there were nearly 100,000 people to watch the “exploits” of the matadors killing these bulls to satisfy our morbid curiosity. Indeed I could not stop crying, my heart broken every time the animal fell stiff. Yet people were happy, shouting and cheering on the stars. I tried to understand the craze for this show, detaching myself from my first judgment. After all, that's what I was there for. Unfortunately, we had a big disagreement about what it actually was. Followers say the bulls, who are as much stars as the bullfighters, have the same luck as the man in this fight. But we have seen that, as soon as the ox takes over the athlete, a dozen men come out of the shadows and distract the beast to be sure that the matador does not get killed. Fans of this scene attend the events from an early age, our neighbor told us that he attended more than 50 shows in his life. Bullfighting is a cultural tradition and has been part of Spanish mores since the Middle Ages, it is believed. Despite my questions, the reason seemed to revolve around the fact that it has always been like this and that is why the tradition continues. Seeing kids at souvenir stadiums buying cloaks and swords to look like their favorite matador, people buying bull meat grills, I really thought to myself that this type of event isn't all just not for me. I saw as red as all those animals that left their blood there in the arena.
Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling)
To clear our minds, we went to another show which this time made us laugh. Unlike American wrestling, Mexican wrestling focuses mainly on the spectacular side, with many holds performed in the air, such as jumping from the rubber bands of the arena, or even, towards the crowd. The masks are a tradition and represent the life of the luchador and the winner… wins the loser's mask, considered the ultimate insult.
Mariachis & Mezcal
Coming back from your match, you have to stop at Place Garibaldi, or more commonly called, the place of the mariachis. In this cacophony, the musicians are waiting for you to present their best piece or the one you will ask for, of course, after visiting the Mezcal and Tequila Museum.
The archaeological site of Teotihuacan, about 2 hours drive from the capital of Mexico City, contains some of the largest Mesoamerican pyramids discovered. The Aztecs named its incredible central alley "the avenue of death", and tourists still take its 4 km to see its monuments dedicated to the moon and the sun. The Aztecs already named it so because they believed that all these monuments along the aisle were tombs, but they are rather ceremonial platforms. Teotihuacan was the largest city in all of pre-Columbian America around AD 500. Very possible that the city was multiethnic and housed ancient civilizations such as the Otomi, the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs, the Mayas and Nahuas peoples. This site has always been one of the most visited in Mexico since the era of the Conquistadors.
Cosmic quincunxes and pyramid of the moon
All Mesoamerican peoples agree that the universe is divided into three: heaven, earth and the underworld. At each of these levels, the universe is divided by the four cardinal points and a center, which they call cosmic quincunx, which can be found throughout the site, built to symbolically represent this method of thought. The quincunx of the city of Teotihuacan is found in this place which is called “citadel”. We find the quincunx in several places, including in front of the pyramid of the moon at the Altars building. Archaeologists have also found it in the offerings, arranged towards the cardinal points and under cardinals. The pyramid of the moon is unique in its kind because it is an arrangement of 7 construction phases. Inside, archaeologists have found human and animal offerings buried alive, as well as several valuable objects for the people of Teotihuacan, such as jade, obsidian and pyrite objects.
Pyramid of the Sun
In the center of the 4 km of the alley of death, we find the pyramid of the Sun. It was built on a volcanic cave, a very important geological aspect in Mesoamerican religion, because caves symbolize fertility and access to the underworld. It is 225 square meters at its base. This respectable people even had a unit of measurement specific to them, which archaeologists call The “Teotihuacan Measurement Unit” or TMU, which would correspond to 83 cm. They found this measurement all over the city. The Pyramid of the Sun measures 260 TMU, this figure corresponds exactly to the number of days in their ritual calendar.
The Citadel and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid
Natural elements play an important role in the theory explaining the formation of the Universe at Teotihuacan. The landscape elements on this site are very important. The Temple of the Moon respects the curves of the Cerro Gordo crater, symbolizing the abundance of water for farmers. If we observe the pyramid of the sun from a certain angle, it was built to reproduce this same pattern with the Patlachic mountain. A cosmogonic legend tells that a mountain would have emerged from the sacred waters at the beginning of time. The Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, located in the space of the citadel, literally embodies it. For even today, during violent thunderstorms and rainy weather, the space that was designed to be flooded to pay homage to their gods ingeniously fills with water.