A Week in Mexico City

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¡Hola! We’ve just wrapped up a week in Mexico City and are about to depart for Guatemala. We’ve spent the last week staying with Vesper’s college roommate, Claudio, who generously let us crash at his apartment. It’s been a busy and delicious week here!

After our crazy layover in Panama, we were pretty exhausted when we arrived here last Wednesday and didn’t do much other than hang out and eat some delicious street tacos. The next day we hit the ground running with a trip to the National Museum of Anthropology, where we learned about the history of Mexico. We finished up the night with dinner at a delightfully cheesy restaurant, with mariachi bands and dancers who performed while we ate.

The architecture of the museum was pretty cool
The Stone of the Sun and our dinner platter at the mariachi place

Friday we had the opportunity to drive outside the city to Teotihuacan, one of the largest ancient Mesoamerican cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we walked along the Avenue of the Dead to climb up the Pyramid of the Sun (one of the largest pyramids in the world!) and the Pyramid of the Moon. We’re blaming the altitude (or maybe the smog that you can see in the pictures), but our legs were so sore the next day! After hiking up all those stairs, we had worked up an appetite and stopped at La Gruta for a late lunch. They had caterpillars, ant larvae, and grasshoppers on their menu, but we were all too scared to snack on bugs and went for some more traditional appetizers and cervezas artesanales instead.

Detail of Temple of Feathered Serpent, Pyramid of the Moon, and Pyramid of the Sun
La Gruta is located inside of a cave!

The next couple of days were spent back in Mexico City. We visited the Chapultepec Castle, which is located on top of a hill in a beautiful park that offers excellent views of the city. Saturday evening, we had a delicious cookout with Claudio and several of his friends, which was a great chance for us to talk to more locals and get travel tips on other locations in Central and South America. Sunday, we spent a lazy day exploring the historical city center’s landmarks, museums, and churches.

Angel de Independencia
Looking down La Reforma, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Javier Marín's Terra

Monday was a national holiday in Mexico, so Claudio had the day off and we went about two hours northeast to the state of Hidalgo to check out the Basaltic Prisms. We left the city fairly early (for us, that is), and along the way stopped for breakfast on the highway. Not an exit off the highway; we literally pulled off onto a shoulder to eat at one of the numerous barbacoa stands along the road. It was amazing! Barbacoa refers to the way they cook the meat (we’re assuming sheep based on the picture), where the meat is either slowly cooked over an open fire or in a pit in the ground. We had huge barbacoa tacos that are currently winning best street food of the trip, plus some soup made from the drippings of the meat - good, but not as good as those tacos. After stuffing our faces, we finished the drive to the Basaltic Prisms, which are these crazy hexagonally shaped columns formed by cooling lava millions of years ago. It was a super interesting phenomenon and a great way to spend a beautiful (smog-free) day outside the city. We rounded out the day with a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was beautiful but also surprisingly slanted due to the front part of the church sinking.

Basaltic Prisms formed by volcanic activity
Barbacoa, overlooking the waterfall, and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our last few days in Mexico were spent at a slower pace, particularly as we begin to plan our next leg of the trip. We saw a few more museums, ate more street food, and did a last few loads of laundry. Overall, we had an amazing time here, but couldn’t have done it without Claudio’s awesome help! It was great to have an insider’s perspective (and car) to show us around the area.

Here are a few final overall impressions/observations from our week here:

  • Barbacoa on the side of the highway is amazing. Street food in general here has been pretty delicious overall.
  • Women dress up much more here than the do in the US. We’re talking heels all the time, no matter what.
  • PDAs are everywhere. Sometimes you just want to tell people to get a room.
  • Mexican cervezas tend to be lacking in anything hoppy, dark, or pretty much any flavor in general… which is probably why they add things like lime, salt, hot sauce, tomato juice, etc. to their drinks. Check out Micheladas for more on this.
  • The prices here are great! At about 1 dollar to 18 pesos, our travel budget was very happy.

We know a bunch of these probably carry over to other countries, but guess we’ll have to keep moving to find out!

Thanks Claudio!

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