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Pinging The Pyramid Of The Sun – Teotihuacan

September 4th, 2018 · Tags:Arts · Cities


After a quick jaunt back to Texas, I returned to “The Dirty Gig” in Mexico and then on the first opportunity headed straight for The Pyramid of the Sun, an hour northeast of Mexico City.  IF I had a bucket list, Teotihuacan would be there.  But who takes the credit for it making the list? Well … we still don’t know.  The Aztecs — “johnies-come-lately” — followed the builders’ culture by a thousand years. Some, mysterious, fluorishing culture built the structure — the third largest pyramid from the ancient world.  Regardless of its origin, the site is one of three dozen UNESCO  World Heritage Sites immediately beyond our southern border.  And the pyramid was in the heart of a vibrant civilization … one of the largest cities in North America at that time.

Pyramid Wikipedia


Pyramid Of The Sun

The three hour-drive from Celaya, my home base in Mexico, was perfect — modern highway all the way, and “a great place to get some thinkin done” as Phish would say … my term for mental notes for a blog.  (The nickel-and-diming or “peso-ing” — I should say — at checkpoints for the multiple toll roads was well worth it for the smooth, safe travel.  I spent about $50 U.S. to and from my destination.)

A first thought: about an hour out of Celaya, the countryside of Mexico became much more lush and pleasing to the eye, than any other part of the interior I had seen.  Already, on previous road trips I have been impressed by the scenery.  It got better.  Much better.  The road to Mexico City and all the surrounding mountains seemed every bit as lush and green and beautiful as the Southern Island of New Zealand.  I kid you not.  That’s pretty green.  … Both places feature green carpets of thick grass, tailor made for herds of sheep.  Interesting, I didn’t see many along the Mexico drive this day, but everywhere along the way were ancient livestock pens — three- or four-feet, seemingly ancient stone walls dividing the pastures into subsets.

Here’s some more about the destination:

National Geographic Notes

You know I am going to critique the ancient site for its lack of Wi-Fi.  Done deal … Moving on …

But what the site lacked in commercial Wi-Fi hotspots, it made up for in trinkets, artisan crafts, souvenirs and people watching.

But this monument!


‘El Jefe’ y The Pyramid Of The Moon in the distance

It took about 30 minutes to walk from the parking lot, through the Avenue Of The Dead, up and over terraces and raised walkways to the base of the large pyramid.  All along the way there were woven, textile creations of multi-colored Mexican serape blankets, lace table cloths proudly displaying the Mexico seal, and onyx stone carved into chess pieces … and my favorite … the jaguar noise maker.  I was remiss in not buying several jaguars for the young children of my friends … a payback for something, well deserved I am sure … because the handcrafted devices do let out one realistic, jungle-cat-like growl.  Oh how my friends would have grown tired of that … I digress …  Or why didn’t I get an ocarina or set of “Andes flutes?”

The trinkets were only a few bucks.  I think the lace tablecloth was twenty bucks … and I was happy to hear that the vendors would not only barter, they would also shout out the U.S. dollar values, based on the latest exchange rate, I suppose … especially if the potential shopper looked like some gringo arse.  Yes … they do the math, so to speak.  A Mayan thing, I suppose.

And of course, luck of the draw, as I got in line and climbed the steps to the top of the ancient altar, the kid just in front of me and one behind me also was the new owner of their very own, annoying little jaguar noise-maker. Ha … they were cool souvenirs … but every step on the climb up the side of a 25-story structure … really!?!



Compared to my previous to excursions in Mexico, once again the pyramid offered world-class people watching, very much a mixture of Mexicans, South Americans, Europeans and many Americans.  Ha … and a very interesting study of human nature.  For instance, did you know that people who huff/puff and gasp to climb a centuries-old pyramid, will still try to cut in front of you at every opportunity?  Ha … I should have gotten one of those jaguar toys to express my disappointment in human nature … grow-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l!

But, instead I cut them slack for their excitement, and threw no one off the side of the ancient sacrificial shrine … Rather, I passed the time with chitchat among those who looked to be, and usually were English-speaking.  The best tip I learned through hearsay, was to try the hot air balloon tour over the site, early in the morning.   Mental note for next time …

Second best tip of the day came from the dude at the front desk of my hotel.  “Don’t forget sunscreen!”  I think the altitude of Teotihuacan is about 2,000 feet higher than Celaya, and by the time you scale the pyramid, well … SPF 30+ is about right … Mustn’t get a blistery souvenir from the Pyramid of the Sunburn.


Moon Pyramid

Most PingWF readers know that this blog gives away free t-shirts via Facebook … asking friends to post photos in said shirts, from cool places … anywhere.  Well, a Facebook group from my universidad does the same.  So, being a homer, I wore a bright red Texas Tech shirt overlooking the Avenue of the Dead, holding my hands up in #gunsup fashion, as is the Texas Tech tradition … and now the Texas Tech Teotihuacan tradition.  Well I’ll be … that crazy human nature thing … the same ones trying to cut in line all the way up the pyramid also tried to steal my 15 minutes of fame … and photobombed me high atop the pyramid.  I knew I should have thrown them off … 


Or better yet.  I could make it look like an accident.  You see, I had everything I needed to pull off the perfect crime.  High atop the pyramid, hundreds of feet about the landing area, where historians tell us that human sacrifices plummeted to a gory finish … I had a banana in my backpack.  After I washed the potasium-hoarding fruit down with a bottle of water … all I had to do was “accidentally” discard the peel and let slapstick take over.  Can you imagine? … People slipping and tripping, and falling over the edge … all due to an errant banana peel.  Kind of like “Seinfeld” meets National Geographic … I digress …

Anyway … I enjoyed the banana for its comic relief and the nutrients it provided for my dehydrating body.  But I much more enjoyed the view of the countryside.  The sight below was pretty impressive … a now more huge throng ascending the pyramid … hundred and hundreds of people sitting and selfie-ing atop the structure.  The huge-in-its-own-right, but smaller Pyramid of the Moon, across the way …  A mere satellite of the main attraction. 

It was just another silly daydream.  But, as I ended my tour and headed down to the avenue below, I chuckled at the bottom.  Thousands of others, and I, had just climbed hundreds and hundreds of steep, narrow, ancient stone steps with only a few safety rails and orange caution fences here and there … But when we got to the bottom, the base of the ancient structure, what did I see!?! Ha … one tiny part of the stone wall, just a few feet above the level ground, had a strip of yellow caution tape attached. Ha.  “Safety last,” I quipped.  Why the caution tape at the bottom?  OH Wait … Maybe this was the drop zone, where falling bodies tend to return to rest.  I was only halfway serious … but I moved over a bit, all the same.


Last pointer for those who intend on visiting Teotihuacan … pay attention when you park.  Believe me, you will be so excited when you first arrive, as you see this ancient marvel looming above nearby … and you will park and you will take off.  To your surprise, you will later learn there are several parking lots … None of which are visible to the others.  So, thank goodness your parking pass has a lot number on it … And thank goodness some of the staff speak English.  You might want to brush up on your “Donde esta el numero uno ‘park-ay?’”  On the way in, I never noticed more than one parking lot.  Now on the way out, I toured several … Looking for a non-descript, white rental car … clutching the key fob and tweaking it, trying to get a peep out of one of the hundreds of cars in the lot … 

IF only there had been some distinguishing feature about MY parking lot.  OH wait.  There was a little somethin-somethin.  About 50 feet from where I parked was the Mayan version of a Tilt-a-Whirl … or maybe, more like a May(an) Pole …   To the side of the parking lot, was this 30-feet pole, brightly decorated with streamers and noise makers … and oh yes … six or seven brightly dressed, totally native-garbed-out dudes, swinging through the air, dangling by one foot, caught up in a tether.  So how was I to find THE parking lot? … Well, there’s that.

Know what I sayin?