We entered the southern outskirts of the city at about 6am and finally arrived at the bus station near the city centre almost an hour later
. Mexico city, also known as the Distrito Federal (DF) is formed of 16 boroughs which comprise over 1800 neighbourhoods making this one of the largest metropolises in the world. With a population of 22 million people living within its boundaries and hundreds of thousands more moving here every year in search of work in the capital it is a very busy place and we could feel the energy as we walked out of the bus station. We managed to get a cab for a decent price over to the Centro Historico which is home to the Zocalo, the Presidential Palace and the giant metropolitan Cathedral, and where we found a cool place to stay.
There are a lot of historical statues and buildings spread out across the central area of the city and the three of us took an open top bus tour around some of the major sites which allows you to get on and off at different stops. We got talking to Matt, a guy from Kansas city down here on holiday with a friend and jumped off the bus for a few afternoon beers in the affluent Zona Rosa area before taking the last bus back to the Zocalo. Just north of the city are two huge pyramids, the remains of the largest pre-hispanic empire called Teotihuacan built between AD150 - 600 and we booked a tour to them for the next day. The thought of another early morning didn't stop a couple of shots of tequila on the hostel roof terrace before bed though.
We ended up in a six bed dorm room with the three of us and 3 french girls who unknown to us were also going to the pyramids the same day, so the queue for the single bathroom in the morning was a long one
! The tour took us to the shrine of Guadalupe, a very important pilgrimage site for the catholic faith. It comprises a number of churches, cathedrals and statues and is visited by almost as many people annually as the Vatican, some of which complete their journey painfully walking across the scorching concrete on their knees. We arrived at the pyramids after lunch time when the sun was its hottest and walked around the huge site for 3 hours, climbing the Piramide de la Luna and the enormous Piramide del Sol, the 3rd biggest in the world and very hard work to climb in 40' heat. It was an amazing place to discover due to how well it had been preserved since becoming deserted in the 8th century and there are still partial houses with water systems and flushing toilets. We got back to the Hostel Moneda late that day and headed up to the roof terrace for our free dinner and a cold beer to watch the sun go down behind the cathedral.
So off the three of us set on our 'bargain' second class bus to Mexico City, departing Escondido around 5pm in the evening. The bus was fine, with seats that reclined more than the first class buses and air conditioning. However, we had a horrible awakening about 3.30 in the morning when 3 men armed with machine guns, supposedly from the army but with their faces completely covered by bandit style scarfs, came on board the bus and went through all of our things, shouting loudly and quickly in spanish. Really not nice, especially as Lou's vivid imagination had already thrived on the information that second class buses save money by avoiding the toll roads and are therefore much more likely to get raided! They didn't find whatever they were looking for anyway and it only set us back about half an hour, but it was pretty hard to get back to sleep after that.