But…check these out!
Taquitos Casa Blanca in Tutxla Guitirrez, Chiapas. Only one kind of taco served, a kind of pulled pork called cochito, they were excellent – and about 65 cents apiece. The bowl of brown on my left is a drink called “pozol de cacao” which consists of cocoa, ground corn, cold water, and god knows what else. It kills the average hot cocoa dead, and it doesn’t even have milk in it. I think it cost about 85 cents.
Of course, our goals for the trip are not just to try every kind of taco and make sure there is a bottle of hot sauce in every photo (hi, Marty!). We also want to take in the span of pre-Colombian history that the Americas offer. For that, we need to roll the calendar back a few stops.
We started off with a biggie – a stop at Teotihuacan to see the Sun and Moon pyramids as well as the rest of the quite large site. Located outside Mexico City, the Sun pyramid is one of the three largest pyramids in the world (more on one of the other two later!)
The Sun Pyramid can be climbed to the top – we were there early and mainly competed with the white-clad cultists (err…spiritually inclined people) you see in the photo above. Later, from a distance, it looked like an army of ants was climbing up…we were there on a Saturday and were glad we got up early.
From the top of the Sun pyramid you can see the Moon pyramid. It looks quite small in that photo. But from close up, it blocks out the mountain behind it…
You get a better sense of the city of Teotihuacan from the landing at the Moon Pyramid – the highest you can currently climb up.
It just stretches for ages! And, to me the best part, nobody is quite sure who build it. They know of several later civilizations that revered the site, but the origins are still quite mysterious (unless you’re Zak McKracken).
After a few hours wandering around in awe, we drove to Cholula near Puebla to have a look at their pyramid – the other Mexican entrant in the top three largest pyramids (Cheops in Egypt is the other).
Cholula is less impressive than Teotihuacan, especially right after, because it has not been as well preserved. People have been living in the area of Cholula since 500BC continuously, making it a contender for oldest continuous city in the Americas, and it would seem that there has been quite a bit of recycling of stone over that time.
Additionally, preventing major excavation is the very pretty mission church built at the top of the pyramid mound. (Reminds me a bit of Jerusalem.)
The distinctive factor in Cholula is the ability to walk through some underground passages in the pyramid. (To make my second LucasArts reference of this article, I am glad I had a map to the catacombs!)
(No, the Cholula hot sauce is not made in Cholula. We were also sad.)
A few days afterwards, we visited the Monte Alban site outside Oaxaca. Here is Melanie standing over a pre-Columbian ball court – the plaque said they didn’t sacrifice the losing team here, but may have in other cities (Philadelphia, I’m guessing).
The site is also large, although not on the level of Teotihuacan. While there are no huge pyramids, there are still a few staircases to climb, and the site is also at a decent elevation.
(No spiritual guides this time, the white shirts were from a visiting school.)
Truly amazing to think of how these sites were built, buried over time, then rediscovered -but also amazing to think about how little of this history has been excavated. There are mounds in Monte Alban that say “more or less we haven’t looked here” – sounds like there will be no shortage of archaeologists needed into the future. (Neither of us are archeologists, but at least one of us has a fedora.)
In closing…one more food photo. It’s a tlayuda with a steak on top. It was more food than I could finish, and cost less than $5. (A pyramid…of calories?)