A maze of permanent vendor stalls. Some taking over living-room size spaces in long segmented structures, others filling entire small buildings, and many more situated on portable carts beneath a ceiling of corrugated plastic. At the edge of the market, we followed a narrow dusty path lined by metal workers and glass tanks to find ourselves among guitar repair shops. We left the guitars, all in various stages of disrepair, before the desire to expand our instrument collection became unbearable. Moving towards the center of the Mercado Ciudadela, the crafts became uniform and predictable. Originally we were impressed by the beaded necklaces, colorful pottery, sketched scrolls, and traditional linens. After passing five or six vendors offering the similar wares, we realized that most of this stuff was mass-produced. We had to wind up and down every single row in order to find unique items that were actually made by the men and women selling them… but it was worth it.
Hot and sweaty from our mid-morning shopping spree, we left the market in search of blue corn flour tortillas. Taking it as a sign of truly delicious food, we waited in line at the busiest street side kitchen. Blue tortillas formed as you wait, filled with beans and potatoes and cheese, fried, and topped with mild green (or flaming hot red) salsa. We picked up a freshly squeezed orange juice (seeds and all) to wash down our filling lunch.
The next day, we decided to escape the conference for the morning and travel an hour outside of the city to Teotihuacan. Our goal was to avoid the heat, and make it back to the conference in the early afternoon. We left the hostel before breakfast was served, so we stopped at the Mexican bakery around the corner for our morning meal. A couple sweet breads and some pastries set us back less than $1.
The first bus that we had to catch on our way to Teotihuacan was a small green city bus that picked up outside of a 7-11. For the duration of the 15 minute ride to the main bus station, our heads were turned to the windows as we passed by new parts of the city.
Luckily, the bus station was not very busy early in the morning. James and I purchased our tickets right away and found seats on the much more comfortable (I mean, as comfortable as a bus can be) gray hound style bus. Just about every bus and taxi driver in Mexico City puts small shrines at the front of their vehicles. What may be comforting to them, felt slightly ominous to us.
James and I sat back and people watched as more and more commuters and tourists loaded onto the bus. Three vendors walked up and down the aisles tossing candy, DVDs, and sandwiches into our laps. Full from our breakfast, and definitely not benefiting from DVDs in Spanish, we politely declined with our limited vocabulary: “No, gracias.” The vendors departed, and the bus left the station.
Traveling farther from the city center the landscape and the socioeconomic status changed drastically. Steep hills piled high with concrete houses. Some buildings painted shades of pink, blue, and orange in an attempt to cancel out the surrounding gray of cement and pollution that settles in the valley.
The entrance to Teotihuacan was marked by enormous agave plants…
…and tourists. James has a thing for taking photos of tourists. He especially likes the tour guide dressed in Indiana Jones gear.
It was a long walk down the Avenue of the Dead to reach the pyramid of the sun (right) and the pyramid of the moon (center).
There were more vendors around every corner. James may have resisted the urge to purchase a guitar at the market on the previous day, but he could not resist adding one small ocarina to our collection.
The pyramid of the sun as we contemplate the best way to conquer all of those stairs.
A nook for hiding.
We made it…
…and so did he (I think).
Views from the top:
While we were at the pyramids, James’ cell phone magically switched over to local time, so we ended up arriving back at the conference an hour later than planned. Our cab dropped us off right in the middle of a parade celebrating the revolucion.
We spent just long enough at the conference, and then headed out for our last dinner in Mexico City.