Sunday, September 07, 2008
Mexico City: Teotihuacan
The Pyramid of the Sun
A light rain is cascading over my body. All of MesoAmerica is laid out at my feet. My heart is pounding. My rectus femoris muscles are on fire. As I close my eyes, I feel the soothing rain cooling my face. I stretch out my arms in victory.
I am a Teotihuacano God.
The name Pyramid of the Sun was given by the Aztecs, centuries after the it was abandoned. It is the third largest pyramid in the world. It is thought that this pyramid venerated a deity but the destruction of the temple where my feet stand has prevented identification of such. I, of course, would prefer that the deity be me.
Come to me, Son of Jor-El. Kneel before Zod.
Ascending the pyramid.
At 233.5 feet, I have a commanding view of Teotihuacan and the entire Basin of Mexico. I can feel the power and inhale deeply. And I need to, because after a grueling 32 degree climb to the summit, I'm physically exhausted.
One would like to believe that such an accomplishment were a feat of great achievement, but there's at least another three hundred people either ascending/descending or just hanging out at the summit. If I'm a Teotihuacano God, then who are all these people???
Literally, everyone and their mother is up here. Mexicans, Americans, Europeans and people from just about everywhere on the planet are here, in Mexico, pretending to be Teotihuacano Gods. Cheaters. Maybe I should start knocking them off the pyramid and play King Of The Hill.
Yo soy dios a Teotihuacan.
Ascending the face of the pyramid is no easy task - unless you're an under ten year old child. How many of them passed me on the way up with nary a bated breath? Little punks, I should punt them off the top too. But honestly, I'm too tired to do any punting. My muscles are spasming and I'm worried that they'll give out due to muscle fatigue on the descent and I won't make it. This would be an un-ideal place to fall and tumble back to the ground.
I thought about abandoning my quest to the top at least twice on the climb up. But I wasn't going to let some young kids, old parents or skinny athletic types beat me. I was going to make it. Plus, there were three attractive women I had to look good for, who were making the ascent in ponchos and leather sandals with makeup and sunglasses. Sunglasses. In the rain. With makeup. And a tour guide. You know what that means: high maintenance and just right for papi.
High maintenance at the summit.
The view is both stunning and rewarding. There are mountains in almost all directions. The skyscrapers of the Distrito Federal, some 25 miles away, are but a memory. Other than the hum of the other 100 people at the summit, all is quiet. As I close my eyes (in a feeble attempt to control my wheezing breath), I can imagine what it must have been like some two thousand years ago with the entire Teotihuacan Empire laying at my feet, with my foot on the skulls of my enemies and surrounded by Teotihuacan women.
Kneel before Zod.
Evidently, this pyramid and the Pyramid of the Moon were built so that it is slightly northwest of the setting sun on two days of the year: August 12th and April 29th - which is one divinatory calendar year apart for the Teotihuacanos. According to Wikipedia, August 12th is significant because it would have marked the beginning of the present era and the initial day of the Maya long count calendar.
I also heard discussion that the pyramids of Teotihuacan are built on the same latitude as the pyramids in Egypt. Perhaps this was derived by the GPS systems of the extraterrestrial beings that came to our planet during this era and guided the construction of the pyramids. What I also didn't know was that Teotihuacan was a city larger than any other in Europe during its' time.
A view from the top of the Avenue of the Dead.
Happily, the descent was without incident. Walking along the Avenida de los Muertos one is impressed with the size of the construction by these pre-historic people. How they built this city over and over again is a mystery. And how they aligned everything so accurately is just amazing. The only thing breaking the quiet lull of your stroll is the constant hawking of obsidian trinkets, silver jewelry and God knows what else by hundreds of vendors. I ended up buying a really attractive shot glass made in the image of a jaguar god made by a vendor name Emiliano.
As I strolled along the grounds noticing the construction, I began to wonder. If I lived in a place with just a little bit of land, would it not make sense to mimic the construction techniques of these Teotihuacanos? Build a flat-roofed house with very wide stairs rising to the top and the entire house situated underneath? Plant grass on the flat roof and you could have parties and events on the roof of your house without the need for a backyard. It could also be incredibly environmentally friendly as well.
We toured the rest of the grounds and the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl before jumping on the shuttle and heading back to the entrance. Along the way, I spotted an Aztec Calendar blanket like the one I had been eyeing in Xochimilco. The lady wanted 200 pesos for the blanket. Sold. The guy in Xochimilco wanted 700 pesos for the same blanket. Deal.
It was a good day to be a Teotihuacan god.
Our Expedition Party: myself, Joseph, Pablo, Sylvia, Senora Gutierrez, General Gutierrez, Sylvia's Aunt and Reg.