We drove through the night and I gazed at the towering skyscrapers through the rain-spattered windows, amazed by the myriads of cars around us, feeling the Mexican metropolis envelop me.
The day after our arrival we visited a mercado-sobre-ruedas. These street markets consist of simple stands made of metal tubes and wooden planks with large colorful plastic canvases as roofs. The stands are set up on the street in such a way to make a tunnel through which the visitors pass as they shop for items ranging from fresh produce to toys and clothes and even pet stands with turtles, ducks, rabbits and occasionally scorpions. Throughout the street market there are also numerous places to eat, with stools and tables for customers to sit and enjoy a meal as people continue to pass behind them. As you walk through it from beginning to end, it is hard to imagine that such a place can be taken apart in minute, leaving the street deserted and just as any other. As I walked though it I felt overwhelmed by the assault on my senses, the smells, the sights, the textures, the sounds…the people around me seemed to press in and I wondered if I would ever be able to feel calm in this crowded city.
The next day we visit museums although most I have visited in previous trips to Mexico City. However my last trip to the city was more than six years ago; as a result I was able to enjoy the museums much more this time around as my mind grasped the concepts more soundly. An example of this situation was the Chapultepec Castle. Once home to Maximilian of Austria, temporary emperor of Mexico, the castle is located in the midst of the city jointly with the Chapultepec Zoo. The seemingly boring castle, rich in history and observation of royal and luxurious rooms repealed my attention as a young child. Yet these same aspects presently lead me to the magnificent castle to truly experience the window to the past.
An exception to the disinterest in truly engaging in the historical aspect of the sites we visited was the Teotihuacan Pyramids. Located thirty minutes from the city, the site consists of the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, the largest city in pre-Columbian America. The site’s main attractions are the Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest buildings in Mesoamerica, and the smaller Pyramid of the Moon. Connecting the pyramids is the Avenue of the Dead. When we arrived we walked through a shorter corridor lined with small shops selling postcards, handmade jewelry, in general Teotihuacan-native souvenirs. The shops are colorful and contrast pleasantly with the overall gray aspect of the ruins and the complementing sky. Up ahead, the pyramid of the sun awaits and as you keep walking it grows steadily until you arrive at the edge of the enormous relic. Once there, we commenced the climb to the top and as I stretched my legs over the unusually tall, uneven steps I was astounded by the revoke of my belief that I Teotihuacan was the exception. I found myself considering different aspects and referring back to my world history course the year before. When we arrived at the top I stood on the highest point and surveyed the land around me, no sight of the city, expanding skies. It was then that I felt tranquility wash over me and all the people around me seemed to vanish, leaving me alone on top of the pyramid, my mind blank and liberated.
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