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Bow bow chic chica-chica

So yeah, pyramids.

Naomi and I opted to do what I have never done: base our accommodation choice on the advice of a travel guide. Normally, I use guides only for information on what sights and sites are available, their significance, their history, their potential risks, and their broad-strokes geographic location. I rarely use them for small scale maps (these have never enough detail and are often erroneous), and except in cases of inherent iconic significance, never for where to eat or sleep (these entries are often apocryphal or spurious, and one can find these things themselves) and, without need of statement, never for prices.

However, the choices this time were between exorbitant on-site accommodation and cheap local accommodation, for which the usual internet booking websites yielded up no information. And thus, the results of the experiment were this: my guide called the local town of San Juan Teotihuacan uninteresting. I beg to differ; it was a well kept and pretty little village. It said the room in our hotel were sterile. I beg to differ. They were quite nicely appointed with reliefs of the main pyramid (those these were a severe hazard to the head of the sleeping adventurer – see photographic evidence. This count, though, I am willing to suspend judgment on; hotels live off of publicity, and could well have renovated since the publication of the last edition of this well-known guide. So, my tested patterns are supported by experimental evidence.

After an early night, Naomi and I awoke at 6.30am, bought for her the now-dubbed ‘poxy sun-hat’ from the hotel and walked the two kilometres (the guide’s map says one) to the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, a the capital city of a pre-Aztec civilization that existed between the second century BCE and the seventh CE, whose true name is lost to the ages (Teotihuacan is from Nahuatl, the Aztec language). The site is 83 square kilometres in site, with two main pyramids; the Pyramid of the sun, the world’s third largest, and the pyramid of the moon; as well as a citadel with another sizable pyramid, and dozens of others along the main Avenue of the Dead and scattered around, and various temples and domiciles. These are an interesting mix of beautifully restored (so well done one doesn’t mind the modern cement between stones), with thankfully small pockets of woefully restored that are being rectified (one does mind the amorphous blobs of cement poured over whole sections), completely buried and with trees growing atop, and much in between.

Getting there so early paid us in full and then some for the reduction in sleep and freezing fingers of the walk. It made us the first on the site, even before the hawkers which were to become our bane over our stay (“almost free”, I think not), and as the stairs of the Pyramid of the Sun face the west, allowed us the climb in the shade and cool. Those who came later suffered the full brutality of the midday sun. It also afforded us almost complete solitude; we were second up the Sun after some noisy gringos (it reminds me of Death’s remarks in The Meaning of Life each and every time, I just gotta say, let me tell ya) and had time as sole occupants of both the Sun and Moon. Those who came later suffered the full banality of their fellow man.

The Sun is a hulking, proportionally squat thing; though ‘currently’ 71.2 metres high (there is seemingly much variation between the restored states and the decayed) it is 223.5 metres to a side; and is not the most impressive thing ever (note, the saying says “bigger than [insert something]”, not “bigger and better”. To me, its major flaws are that it is a fairly boring shape with no internal structure, no tunnels, nothing. These factors, to my mind, turn an architectural marvel into a glorified pile of rocks. (Disclaimer: I note for health reasons that Nae disagrees.)

The Moon, however, while apparently having only minimal internal structure, has a far more interesting and aesthetically pleasing design than its larger counterpart. I was also charmed by the smaller pyramids and their intriguing spacial relationships and connections. I allow the photographs to speak of the detail, though the scale of this site, in confederation with overcast weather on the first day, defied my photographic abilities, and results are more meagre than I would have hoped.

I will leave day number one there, and it’s still before 10am.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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