It’s hard to explain the experience of visiting a place like Teotihuacan, to try quantify the vast works undertaken here effectively is not something I feel able to do. As much as I find Teotihuacan impressive in both scale and design I don’t find the buildings attractive and find it hard to relate to the structures, I prefer gazing over the semi-arid cactus and succulent strewn landscapes surrounding the site to the archaeological marvel I am here to witness.
Teotihuacan is a truly ancient place and the humongous structures are relics from a civilization that flourished and died long before the Aztecs or Mayans civilisations rose to prominence. The best way I have to explain this is that the civilisations that followed centuries later had no idea what the buildings were for, due to the scale of the buildings they assumed Teotihuacan had been built by a race of giants.
Visiting the on-site museum, filled with artefacts from the site, to try and learn more about the site and its founding culture merely highlighted that ancient relics don’t paint an effective picture about a culture so ancient. I left the museum more informed but with no idea how the site may have looked, the museum not feeding my imagination with enough knowledge to start envisaging an aesthetic onto what I could see. I can’t imagine these structures with plaster, render, colours and decorations or with structures sat atop the hefty stone foundations.
I have to be content with my sense of awe at the scale of construction, I keep in mind that all this work was created without metal tools, use of the wheel, or any domesticated livestock. The sheer fact that the hundreds of tonnes of rock on site were quarried, transported and used to construct all I see, enables me to remain astonished with Teotihuacan.
Having made my own way here from Mexico City, I had time to sit and watch the world go by, to enjoy the superb views offered from the top of the sun pyramid, I thought the semi-arid landscape must look much different to the irrigated fields and farms that would have once surround the temples.
Spending this time walking around the huge site sure does develop a hunger, and there are plenty of venues outside some of the venue gates eager to help, in fact the gauntlet of menu waving touts is a little overwhelming after the rather peaceful enclosure. I bypassed most of the empty larger venues and their touts and found a delightfully local venue, I liked the plastic furniture, corrugated iron roof.
I especially liked the bright orange curtains tied open to expose the barred windows behind, the nopales, prickly pear cactus outside the back door, are too far away to be photogenic, but from my seat they add another certain element of authenticity. There is a cool breeze filtering through the open door and barred windows, but it does little to dissipate the smells of tortillas cooking and of meat frying, these smells seems to rebound off the cinder block walls.
The food ordered certainly didn’t get served looking like the picture on the menu, but the Molcajete Azteca was pretty tasty none the less, I hadn’t really expected to look the same, but it could have been a little neater. Molcajete Azteca is the house speciality and is made up of cazuela con bistec de res, pollo, tocino, longaniza, queso Oaxaca fundido, nopales asado, y un, molcajete con quacamole y chicharron
Translated that is a dish of casserole with beef steak, chicken, bacon, sausage, melted Oaxaca cheese, roasted nopales, and a molcajete (stoneware dish) with quacamole and chicharron. It was pretty yum, simple but effective and of course served with tortillas, understandably I made them into tacos and drizzled them with some of the spicy salsa rojo. In the background music was playing from the radio, the crooner broadcast over the air sung songs of love in a language I barely comprehend, the tempo adding to the atmosphere, but not my understanding. I can’t remember the tune especially but I expect I skipped to the beat when I headed back to the ruins to explore and experience some more.