Not far from Mexico City, travelers can climb one of the tallest pyramids in the world. If you’re the adventurous sort, and I know I am, you’ll get out of the city and head to the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan. Before you even arrive, you’ll see the giant Pyramid of the Sun in the distance. In my humble opinion, I think Mexico City is one of the most interesting cities in the world. Whenever I hear people say they are going to visit, I tell them that an excursion to Teotihuacan is a must. Whether you climb the pyramid or simply gaze at it, you’ll be transported to another era. An era of cacao, of gold, and of human sacrifice.
If you follow my blog you know I’m a flight attendant. I always wanted to be a flight attendant, but I still went to university to study subjects that I thought would be useful in my travels. This led me to major in cultural anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology. This is what gave birth to my obsession with ancient Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilization and I spent a summer backpacking around, adventuring to many of the ruins. I still have plenty of ancient cities on my list, but that summer I put a good dent in it. Teotihuacan, unlike some ruins, is very easily accessible.
Teotihuacan, Getting There
By Bus, or By Bus Tour…That is the question. Some people argue that it’s better to take the bus on your own because it’s cheaper, with more time at the pyramids. This is certainly true, but I have to say, I did take a tour through a Mexico City hostel and it was incredibly memorable. Many of the bad reviews for the bus tour was the opposite of my experience and personally, you get what you give in life. So let me tell you about my excursion.
Flight Attendant Tip: First of all, even if you’re not staying at a hostel, you can always get the same excursions, BUT CHEAPER, by purchasing from a hostel. Also, don’t be afraid to haggle…especially my ladies, I feel like the men actually enjoy it when we haggle with them. 🙂 My Spanish and smile have gotten me amazing discounts. In the states, I’m sure the same haggling would have gotten me throttled. My haggling is usually something like, “Oh bummer, my budget was (insert amount here). That’s too bad because I really wanted (insert object of affection here).” Haggling has never failed me and allowed me to remain budget doing excursions, buying jewelry, getting taxi rides, you name it. And don’t forget, you get more flies with honey, so always smile! I paid $15-20, which seems like a steal to me for transportation, a guide, a tequila workshop and snacks.
Pit stop: The tour I did stopped at a Tequila tasting shop and our group (of about 15) got to see how the ancient Mesoamericans used the Maguey plant and local flowers to make bright tapestries. They used the same plant to make drinking mescal. Tasting the mescal, and pulque was quite intense, made from the Maguey plant we were shown when we first arrived. I really liked the sweet Almedrado, an almond flavor tequila liquer. I’ve heard some people complain that it was a complete waste of time and that they hardly got any tequila. My group was there about fifteen minutes, so it definitely didn’t cost too much time at the pyramids. And let me say, they were verrrrrry generous with their pours. I didn’t want too get too tipsy before climbing one of the tallest pyramids in the world, so I was careful, but let me say that before we even left the Tequila place, some of the guys in our group were puking in the bushes. 😉 Caution: Tequila taste at your own risk.
The Ruins of Teotihuacan
The main event! Two giant pyramids, the Sun and the Moon tower above the Avenue of the Dead. Walk down the ancient road lined with rocky temples and you can’t help but feel like you’re in another world. Teotihuacan was once home to over 125,00 people and when you take a tour, you really gain incredible insight into the city, which even had technology such as ancient plumbing and aqueducts. This is absolutely incredible if you keep in mind that the Pyramid of the sun was believed to have built in the second century AD. I knew some from my collegiate studies, but really our guide was a wealth of information. That’s a great perk about tours, but also, I met memorable friends from Germany and Brazil that I still keep in touch with.
Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun:
If you’re afraid of heights, this is not for you. I’m not afraid of heights and still on occasion I was like “What the hell am I doing!?!?!” The steps get pretty steep and towards the top it gets very windy! Once you get to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, you’ll be surrounded of course by fellow adventurers. If you check out my selfie below, you’ll notice the edge in ominously close and I can’t help but wonder if any tourists have fallen off the pyramid before. Eek!
Flight Attendant Tip: If you want to feel a bit more like you’re the only one atop the mountain, head over to the Pyramid of the Moon and climb that one too! I did and was rewarded with a very peaceful rest at the top. Although the Pyramid of the Sun is more famous because it’s taller, the Pyramid of the Moon has an even better view because it rests at the very end of the Avenue of the Dead, offering a very dramatic view of Teotihuacan and the Pyramid of the Sun in the Distance. And if you’re sitting at the top and it feels like you’re just as high, it’s because you are. The Pyramid of the Moon sits on a higher landscape so although it’s not as tall, you still climb just as high.
Whether you’re a history lover, or just love a unique adventure, Teotihuacan is a must if you’re in the Mexico City area.
So, have you climbed a pyramid lately? If you did, were you deathly afraid or was it invigorating? For me, it was a little of both, but mostly amazing!