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Mexico City competes with Cairo for title of largest city in the world and is also one of the highest capitals at 2,300 metres. We were not looking forward to coming here as we both dislike cities, but in order to cross from the gulf coast to the Pacific by bus we had to come through MC. In fact, it has been a fascinating few days.
The climate here is different from our previous experience in Mexico because during the day the temperature rises to a maximum of 27 degrees C, but it is a short day. As soon as the sun drops around 5pm the temperature falls as low as 7 degrees C. and fleeces and jackets are needed until between 9 and 10am the next morning. Our hostel provides breakfast and an evening meal, both during the “cold” period, and the dining room is on the 5th floor rooftop, with only plastic drop down wall curtains for side protection
The location of the hostel is great, right next to the main square, the Zocalo. When we arrived and crossed the square, there were crowds and queues everywhere and it was difficult to see what was going on. After checking in we went back to find a great snow event taking place. Lots of activities involving snow, including making snowmen. We left home to escape snow and here they have imported it (or made it?) especially. It certainly adds to the festivities along with the numerous Christmas lights.
As the capital, Mexico City houses the most important Anthropology Museum in which we spent a fascinating 4 hours. It describes in detail all the developments from the ice age onwards which have contributed to the formation of society in Mexico, identifying all the different ethnic groups throughout history and the various patterns of their societies, whilst at the same time identifying what they had in common. The amount of information is overwhelming but luckily built on what we had already learned. Our only complaint was that when we had a coffee break, the coffee cost double in the museum what we would have paid outside. But we needed to sit down!
The other good reason to come to the city is its proximity to Teotihuacan, a city built between 100 – 600 AD, which at its peak had a population of 200,000, making it probably the largest city in the world at that time. The site is huge and contains 2 pyramids, Pyramid of the Sun (75 metres high), and Pyramid of the Moon (50 metres), as well as temples, public meeting areas and residential quarters. Archaeologists are still digging and finding more information to shed light on the society. We were proud that we managed to climb the 2 Pyramids and the temple. It is not just the height that makes it a challenge but the steepness of the stairs. The risers were almost at my knee level, but the treads are very narrow, about 6 inches, so it feels as if you are climbing a wall rather than a staircase. In most places there is a rope at the side to pull up on, but on the few that did not have one it felt very unsafe. Descending was worse than climbing up and we watched one man spend a long time trying to coach his wife down. She was terrified but there was no alternative, so she made it eventually!
We have visited the Bosque de Chapultepec (woods and parks) a couple of times so far as it is a delightful area of over 4,000 trees of more than 100 different species and the area contains a couple of museums, the zoo and botanical gardens
So our misgivings about coming to such a large city came to nothing and I would recommend a visit for anyone who comes to Mexico. The metro is very easy to use, clean, (although busy during rush hours) and unbelievably cheap, costing about 20 pence to cross the city. There is pollution, aggravated by the geography of being in a valley surrounded by higher land, and by the weather pattern which keeps the smog low when the sun is out. But there is so much to do that it made our stay interesting.
Ps Arrived in puerta Vallarta to find hotel does not have free wifi so will have to go to cafes to get online. Skype might be difficult whilst we are here because cafes don't open til later in the morning than we usually make contact. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, but it may be after we leave PV.