where men (and women) become gods

Day 2!

We had decided on Sunday that we would venture out of the city on Monday to Teotihuacan (which I still can't pronounce) aka the Temple of the sun and moon. After some debate, we decided to get a driver from the hotel to take us there as we were hoping to do a bit more exploring than the typical tour bus allowed. Mickey, as he wished to be called, was quite the tour guide and we were immediately excited about having him along.

Mickey was full of MANY stories the first of which concerned the median outside our hotel. I had mentioned it to him because Dave and I both were enamored with its shape. According to Mickey...the mayor at the time it was built was thought to look like a crocodile? and this median, which ran for quite some distance in the city, was shaped in honor of him as a croc's tail.

And so our journey continued with stories and history of the Mexican people and the Aztecs until we arrived at the Basilica of Guadalupe. This was the locale where the Virgin of Guadalupe was revealed to the Aztecs (and Spanish priests) and thus is a big destination for most Mexicans. Actually I just read in Wikipedia that it is the second only to the Vatican in most visited Catholic shrines. So. When the crowds outgrew the original Basilica, a new cathedral was built in 1976. Several interesting things to note about this structure:

1. A majority of the materials and labor were donated as it was good to be in good favor with the Virgin of Guadalupe. This includes the ENTIRE wood ceiling all donated by a company in Canada.
2. To accommodate the masses who wish to pray before the Virgin, the architect installed two people movers that are a level below the altar. This allows mass to take place without any interruption. Also according to Mickey the speed of the movers was set such that you can complete one hail Mary on each pass.
3. The ceiling above the altar is open to the sky but designed such that rain doesn't get in or on anyone. This allows heat to escape as the structure has NO A/C.
4. Does there really need to be a 4? Ok. The Virgin in the new Cathedral (and our photo) is the ORIGINAL Virgin revealed in 1531 through (now Saint) Juan Diego. She. Is. Old.
After the brief stop, we traveled onto tetechhuanca (my pronunciation). I suggest following this link which covers most of the history and interesting facts...some of which I cover below.... Mickey drove us first to the southern edge and the citadel, which is a large square in plan with several temple bases in the center. All the walls were composed of lava rock and would have been plastered until they were crisp and smooth they painted vibrant colors. This plaster and paint would have covered not only the walls and steps, but the floor as well. There are still bits and pieces of it found throughout the complex. From the citadel we traveled north to the temple of the moon and then back south the the temple of the sun... which we climbed. Some more Mickey facts for your reading pleasure.
1. The temples were never lost merely left to decay. In the early 1900's to celebrate the Mexican Independence an Archaeologist was commissioned to restore them. He apparently was hoping to find gold and dynamited the tops off a few.
2. The mortar and small rocks between the large lava rocks are not original but are part of the restoration process.
3. Each pyramid or temple consists of several temples, similar to a russian doll they get smaller as you get to the center, as temples were built atop older ones.
After the trek up the temple of the sun, Dave and I were in need of some sustenance...as was Mickey. He suggested Pyramid Charlie's, which according to their slogan 'served the food the Aztec God's ate.' Tempting. But we decided to pass and convinced Mickey to drive us to a local market in a nearby village. Luckily Montezuma didn't take out his revenge.

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