Saturday, April 20, 2013

México City - old panache, modern brash

Another slow start - lazing around in our grassy and tree surrounded camp in Teotihuacán before eventually packing up an making our way to Mexico City. Fortunately Ignatio, who we had met in Leon, has arranged for us to stay on the campus of his seminary / university so, guided by our GPS bearings we crossed the city without incident, but also without time to look around, simply focusing on avoiding contact with the fluid mass of vehicles swirling around us. Once we found our destination we slipped into the verdant and tranquil environment of the uni where Ignatio was waiting for us. We were briefly introduced to the University Dean before being shown to our “campsite” just inside the main gate adjoining a pleasant area of treed parkland with toilets and showers 5 meters from our door and a supermarcado just across the road, with 24  hour security - better than many of the other campsites we have have stayed in!

Wondered around the backstreets where we found (with the help of a very friendly uni student) the local markets and dined on delicious enchiladas in amongst the fruit and vegetable stalls. 

The next few days saw us wandering the streets of central Mexico City, visiting churches, museums, dining on traditional “mole” - chicken with a chili-chocolate sauce (yum!), and beer and pizzas in road-side cafes. 

One is struck by the young demographic of this city and the vibrancy that this brings - the energy is palpable, Unfortunately, so is the pollution, resulting in several days of irritated eyes. 
...just another "pedestrian" crossing've got to admire a country that is prepared to elevate crickets to this status!

The power of the church in Mexico - just another daily Mass
Took the metro-bus accross town to visit the Basilica de Guadalupe, Mexico’s most revered shrine. It forms part of a cluster of churches with a remarkable diversity of designs. The New Basilica is 70’s - 80’s concrete style - not to my taste but impressive, particularly as mass was in full swing and the place was full with thousands of worshipers, and there was nothing particularly special about today. While the plaza’s around the new church were concrete and spartan, the other churches were clustered above on a volcanic hill from which issued several springs. At one pool, a group of indians from Jalisco were worshiping, the nearby statue of the virgin covered in blankets. They had obviously recognised this as a sacred site long before the Catholics usurped it - one can only imagine without asking.
A diversity of styles in the churches of the Basilica de Guadalupe.

..on a site revered by the indigenous Mexicans. Note the covered Virgin Mary

Smog building as the day warms


A day spent wandering through the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia... What was obviously a very sophisticated and intellectually advanced society was also clearly very brutal.

Stone of the sun..was initially thought to be an Aztec calendar, but apparently is a large gladiatorial sacrificial alter

Outside the museum, men from the Totanic people leap from a 20m high pole - attached to ropes fortunately - in the "voladores" ritual, spiraling downwards with specified, religiously significant, numbers of rotations around the pole as well as the number of times they each indiviudually spin as they descend to the ground.

..yes, it really is a fountain in the background!

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