Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dinner at the Top

On Tuesday evening Nancy, Fred and I had reservations to eat at Bellini's, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Mexico City World Trade Center.  It is located on the 45th floor, and it bills itself as the world's largest revolving restaurant.

We arrived before 6:00, shortly before dark.  The skies were overcast, and it looked as if it were raining in some parts of the city.

To the south there was a break in the clouds and we could see the peak of Mt. Ajusco.

I ate once before at Bellini's.  The food was not bad, but not outstanding either.  The same was true this time.  The restaurant is expensive by Mexican standards, but of course you are paying for the view.

A couple views of the city at night from the restaurant...

It was pleasant experience even if the restaurant is by no means one of the best places to dine in Mexico City.

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

On Tuesday I took Fred and Nancy to the Jamaica Market.  A portion of the building is like any other Mexican market with fruits and vegetables, meats, clothing and shoes... just about anything that you might need.

Mexican markets are all colorful, busy and interesting, but the Jamaica Market is special.  It may not be typically visited by tourists, but I think that it is one of the most amazing places in Mexico City.  It is the main flower market.

This time of year in the days prior to the Day of the Dead, the market is even more incredible.  There are more marigolds, the traditional flower for the holiday, than you can imagine.

And yet there is room for every other kind of flower too.

Trucks pull right into the market building and their cargos of flowers are unloaded.

The market had many other things for sale related to Day of the Dead...

There were the sugar skulls that are given to children.

This piñata stall had piñatas in shape of Miguel's guitar from the movie "Coco".

There were the "papel picado" decorations that are hung everywhere for Day of the Dead.

And of course there were "catrina" figurines.

Nancy and Fred were both amazed by the Jamaica Market.  They said that they had never seen anything like it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Mexicráneos" and "Alebrijes"

On Monday Nancy, Fred and I took a stroll along the Paseo de la Reforma to see two unique seasonal exhibits on display on either side of the boulevard.

The first was the "Mexicráneos" exhibit which consisted of 54 monumental skulls ("cráneos"), each one decorated by a different artist.  This is the second year for the exhibit.

Fred studies a skull which says, "Coffee and death... there is nothing stronger."

A couple of the skulls were done in the style of the Huichol tribe of northwestern Mexico.  The entire design was done in small colored beads.

Along the way there were a couple of places for fun photo opportunities.

Continuing down the boulevard, we came to the nearly 200 "alebrijes" that were in the parade the Saturday before last.  These colorful, bizarre creatures made out of cardboard and papier mache will be on display along the Paseo de la Reforma until after the Day of the Dead.


Nancy and Fred agreed that these displays were unlike anything that they had ever seen before.

Pyramid Climbers

No visitor to Mexico City should leave without seeing the ruins of Teotihuacán.  Located about 30 miles north of Mexico City, it is one of the most impressive sites in a country filled with archaeological wonders.  Around fifteen hundred years ago this mysterious city was the largest in the Americas with a population of perhaps 200,000 people.  It fell into decline around A.D. 600, and within a couple centuries had been completely abandoned.  When the Aztecs arrived in the region in the 14th century, they were so amazed by the ruins that they gave it the name by which we still know it today...  Teotihuacán… the Place of the Gods.

On Sunday, Alejandro drove Nancy, Fred and me to Teotihuacán.  There we spent the better part of the day exploring the ruins.  The archaeological site covers a large area even though it is only a small portion of the ancient city.  Alejandro parked the car at the entrance which is next to the Pyramid of the Sun.

The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure at Teotihuacán, and the third largest pyramid in the world.  It is 246 feet high, and we intended to climb to the top.

The climb is difficult because of the steepness of its steps.  The Valley of Mexico´s elevation of over 7000 feet does not help for those of us who are used to lower altitudes.  At each level of the pyramid we stopped to catch our breath and to take pictures.

Nancy, the Queen of Teotihuacán, surveys her realm.

We finally succeeded in reaching the top.

From the top there is a superb view of the ruined city and the surrounding countryside.  You can see the principal street which leads to the other great pyramid, the Pyramid of the Moon.

The street which stretches the length of Teotihuacán is called the Avenue of the Dead.  It was given that name by the Aztecs who thought that the earth covered ruins along it were burial mounds.  After descending the Pyramid of the Sun, we walked about a half mile along the avenue to the Pyramid of the Moon.

The Pyramid of the Moon is 140 feet high.  The entire structure has not been restored, and visitors are only allowed to climb about half way up.


The view from there, however, is excellent.  You can look down the Avenue of the Dead and see the Pyramid of the Sun.

So that wouldn't have to walk all the way back, we exited by the Pyramid of the Moon, and then took a taxi to where Alejandro's car was parked.  Although there was more to see, it was time for us to take a break and have some lunch.  On a previous trip Alejandro and I had tried out a rustic, little restaurant called "El Conejo en la Luna" (The Rabbit in the Moon), We thought that it was a better choice than the tourist-trap restaurants surrounding Teotihuacán that are filled with busloads of tour groups.

We all enjoyed our lunches there.  We were also impressed and charmed by the kids (probably relatives of the owner) who greeted us, showed us to our table, and bid us farewell at the end of our meal.  The fellow to the right, the one with the blue glasses, spoke English and was especially personable.  He is going to make a great businessman when he is older. 

Alejandro then drove us to the far end of the archaeological site.  There we visited the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

Fred and Nancy were rather reluctant to climb the steep steps of yet another temple, but I was insistent.  When they got to the top they could understand why.  That structure hid the façade of an earlier temple which archaeologists have excavated.  Looking down from up there you can see the carvings which covered the once hidden temple.

The façade is decorated with images of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent God.

Alternating with Quetzalcoatl are sculptures of another god.  It was thought to be Tlaloc, the rain god, but archaeologists are now debating its identity.

By now it was nearly time for the site to close.  It had been a long and tiring day, but a worthwhile visit to one of the greatest archaeological sites in the Americas.