Mexico City

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, July 13, 2012

Visited Mexico City July 9-17.

Today was one of the hilights that I had been waiting for.  I went to
visit the national anthropological museum in Mexico City.  I around
early in the morning and stayed about four hours going through the first
floor which was dedicated to different periods and cultures in Mexico's
history.  The first room was interesting as it intended to show basic
human evolution and development.  Hilights for me were the rooms
showcasing Aztec, Maya and Olmec.  The Aztec room was massive and with a
giant Aztec calendar.  I've seen replicas but this was the real one! 
The collection of artifacts and statues was so extensive and amazing! 
Then in the Maya room the highlight was that they brought the newly
discovered tomb of the king from the ruins of Palenque and set it up
here at the museum.  Of course the hilight for the Olmec room was the
giant head sculptures.

After the museum I went for an authentic lunch including shrimp tacos and enchiladas as recommended by the waiter.

I walked over to Chapultepec Park.  It's like Mexico City's own Central
Park.  It may even be larger; not sure.  There were endless vendors all
over.  I visited the free zoo.  It was pretty good, but I can't
complain when it was all free.  As I left the zoo it began to rain, just
as it does daily in this rainy season in Mexico City.  Fortunately I
found some cover under some trees for about an hour.

Later I
visited the Castle of Chapulterpec.  It was up on top of a hill so it
provided great views of the city from the top.  This hill was once home
to Aztecs and Toltecs.  The springs from here once provided the water to
Tenochtitlan.  Construction of the castle, though, began in 15.  In the
19th century it became the headquarters for Mexico's military academy. 
The castle later became the presidential palace for about six different
presidents of Mexico.  Now it serves as the National Museum of History.

the late afternoon I sat outside and enjoyed some beers.  At PM I met
up in a tour.  We went to a Pulqueria and I tried my first glass of
pulque.  Mine was flavored coconut but there were other flavors too. 
Not bad.  Not good.  But it was fun to try in a place where the locals
go to drink.  At Pm we arrived at the stadium for Mexico City's famous
wrestling.  It was pretty boring, but still a fun experience to try. 
When in Rome, right?

I arrived back to the hostel about 11:PM and had some beers and empanadas on the pedestrian street.

Left at 9AM on an all day tour.  Our first stop was the Tlatelolco, the
site of the Three Culture Square.  Here we saw Aztec ruins next to a
cathedral.  The Aztecs gained land in central Mexico.  Over time this
land grew to be the capital city of Tenochtitlan (located in present day
Mexico City).  It is estimated that the Aztecs made 20,000 – 250,000
each year.





we visited Guadalupe Shrine.  The Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
is the primary place for worship in all of Mexico.  It honors Our Lady
of Guadalupe.  The blue-mantled Virgin of Guadalupe is the most
important image in Mexico and responsible for uniting Catholic beliefs
with pre-Hispanic Indian beliefs and practices.  The Basilica sits on
the site where an Indian saw a vision of a lady in a blue mantle on
December 9, 1531.



a long drive we arrived at Teotihuacan.  Before we saw the site we had a
traditional Mexican lunch buffet.  I enjoyed more of the chicken in the
mole sauce.


Teotihuacan was inhabited between 100 BC –
700 AD.  The city reached apeak of about 150,000 inhabitants in 500 AD. 
Many different groups of people lived in this city.  People from the
central Maya region lived there from 300- 500 AD.  Teotihuacan was known
as a major religious site with thousands of temples and shrines. 

Today I was off on another tour.  Before I left I met a guy,Bryan,
staying at my hotel who was visiting from Chicago.  He was also a
teacher and came on the tour.  Inside the van I also saw two of the
girls that were with me on yesterday's tour.  I couldn't communicate too
great with them because they were French and only spoke French and
Spanish, but Bryan fortunately spoke fluent spanish.

We drove
around Mexico City and saw some sights from the van.  We made a quick
stop to see their soccer, futbol, stadium which had been used for two
Wrold Cups and even the Olympics.

Eventually we arrived at
Xochimilco.  Xochimilco is 50 miles of canals known as the Floating
Garden.  In the past, it was used by the Aztecs.  Today, colorful
boats known as trajineras float down the canal with music played by
bands.  Our group took an hour ride on the canal.  I loved this
experience!  There were so many other boats going in all different
directions.  Many of the larger boats, like ours, were filled with local
families out for a picnic on the boat.  Then there were all kinds of
vendor boats that would come up to our boat selling food and trinkets. 
There were also tiny boats filled with mariachi bands.  We hired one to
play for us.

Also at this site we saw a local tradition where
five guys go to the top of a pole and lower themselves down by swinging
around andaround the pole.  It was quite interesting!

our next stop we drove by the University of Mexico.  I think they have a
whopping 250,000 students.  We made a quick stop to see the famous
library building.

Then we made a visit to Frida Kahlo´s home. 
This was the home she lived in and died in.  Throughout the house were
many of her paintings and personal items.  Bryan had us recreate a
famous picture of Frida and her husband posing together outside their



we walked around the area of Coyoacan.  There were tons of food vendors
so of course we needed to try some food.  Of course there was a zocalo
and a church to visit too.

Our last stop of the day was back at
Mexico City's main zocalo.  We arrived just in time for the daily
ceremony in which the military trot out and take down the enormous
Mexican flag.

Later in the evening, Bryan and I went out to a
couple of places for drinks and a traditional Mexican meal.  Back at the
hostal we played some cards along with one of the workers, Don.


Today was my first day without any real plan.  Woke up the latest of the
trip at AM.  Around 11 I met up with Bryan and a new friend from the
hostel, Lucas.  We headed out to the Merced Market.  It felt like the
biggest market that I have ever been through.  Anything you can imagine
was there.  We had fun viewing all sorts of different food and sampling
some things too.

In the afternoon we headed over to Mexico City's zocalo.  I viewed Templo Mayor and visited the main cathedral.

in the day about 4:45PM, Bryan and I headed back to the zocalo.  This
time we went to the top floor of the Gran Hotel.  From there were
terrific views looking down at the zocalo.  We had some drinks and an
excellent dinner.  At 6PM we had the best seats in the house to view the
ceremony in which the military comes in and brings down the flag.

This morning I went on a unique tour; it was a street food tour of
Mexico.  We went to various street food vendors to try a variety of
goodies.  At the first stop I had a tamal which is basically corn masa
that´s mixed with corn lard and inside was filled with pork.  Next we
went to a place that made tortillas and I tried a couple that came out
fresh.  The next food stand I tried a tlacoyo which is a grilled
corn-dough patty stuffed with huitlacoche (a plant fungus that infects
corn of all things!).  Because I am a glutton, at this stop I also had
another with chicharron and veggies (gordita de chicharron).  Next up
was a food stand with quesadillas.  Then we made a stop at a place that
made fruit smoothies.  My smoothie was called "The Vampire", but I do
not remember all that was inside.  Next stop was tacos de canasta with
pork marinated in citrus.  Then another health stop for mixed fruit with
chilli powder, lime and salt sprinkled over it.  For the next food
vendor I had a burrito.  The burrito was sauteed squash flowers, onions,
beans and cheese, drizzled with salsa and wrapped in a flour tortilla. 
At the next place I had a taco with pork and green mole sauce.  Mole is
famous for having at least 20-30 ingredianets in the sauce.  I have
tried it about five times on this trip, but today was the first time I
had it as a green sauce.  Then it was on to tacos al pastor whichwas
pork filets marinated in dried chilli and spice and stacked on a spit,
then they are roasted until dark brown and carmalized.  I added a
squeeze of lime and green spicy salsa.  The final stop was for carnitas
tacos made from a mix of pig parts (tongue, snout, uterus, oh my!).

When I got back to the hostel in the early afternoon I just crashed and fell into a food coma.  I needed the extra sleep!

5PM I took a final walk to the zocalo.  There were some performers that
I watched for a little while.  Then I took a 20 minute walk down a
pedestrian street until I reached the Torre Latino.  I paid to go to the
top floor (the 37th).  From there I had 360 degree views of the entire
city.  Unfortunately a storm was approaching and my line of sight from
there was not as good as it could have been.  Sure enough the sky opened
up and it began to pour.  Although my opportunity to view the city from
the top floor had expired I could at least watch the storm over the
city.  It was fascinating and exciting to see lightning strikes from
that high up.

In the evening I met up with Bryan and some new
friends: Etan from Israel, Mohammad from Egypt, Annica from Australia
and David from Spain.  We went down the block for some beers.  Frfom
there we went for a dinner.

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