Ioverlander recommended we stay at El Rancho RV park, located a short distance from the Pyramids just North East of the city. Taking the toll road, we managed to navigate our way, but not with out error as coming through the toll road with multiple on ramps and fast moving traffic we took the right road….. but in the wrong direction. Doh! GPS said no exits for 32km, SHIT! Luckily 15km in we found an illegal turning point, we pulled a U-turn between some concrete blocks and hoped like hell a cop didn’t see us. Success, back in the right direction, and found our pit stop for the next few days, PHEW!! In an effort to reduce pollution, Mexico state have foreign vehicle exemption driving days. We knew about the city, but didn’t realize it was state wide. We did pass by a check point where a cop tried to wave us over, but we were going too fast and need more space to stop safely, so we kept going. Just as well, sadly Dad & Jenn, 30 mins behind us weren’t so lucky and were stopped and fined for driving on their exempt day, cost them 1.5 hour of negotiations but did manage to get their fine down from 6,500p to $150 USD. Steep, but could have been a lot more. No receipt was given, so the money was no doubt pocketed.
The next morning we walked to the Pyramids, wow impressive and on a massive scale. Built over hundreds of years, starting before the invention of the wheel, the mind boggles as to the amount of slave labour and organization required. Little is known about the initial builders and occupants, the most notable history comes from when the Aztecs ruled and occupied the city. The precision, scale, and size is mind blowing. The Avenue of the Dead is over 2km long, passing the Pyramid of the Sun to the Pyramid of the Moon. We climbed the well worn, steep staircase to the top of the Sun pyramid first, and to the allowed half way point of the Moon pyramids. The views were pretty awesome, we sat and took it all in for a while, caught our breath and snapped some photos. Over the past couple of hundred years there has been extensive repairs for preservation. Hearing guides around us talking of the human sacrifice and gory deaths endured by so many sends chills down my spine.
We ended up spending 5 nights at Rancho Viejo, enjoying having some down time to catch up on writing the blog, school work, travel journals, laundry and truck maintenance. Tim changed the oil, filters and lubricants. A messy job, but good for the truck as we have driven 7,500 km. Charley and Jaxon enjoyed playing with the kids of a family from Quebec. The boys only spoke french, but again, the language of play prevailed.
The owner of the camp ground, Julia, gave us some helpful directions on how to get into the city via public transport. She arranged for a taxi to collect us at 8am to take us to the bus station, where we took the public bus into the city. The coach must have done some serious mileage, the seats were well worn and mostly broken into the uncomfortable position of recline. At stops along the way, people would get on and fight their way to the back of the bus trying to sell their wares then get off as the bus started rolling on. Driving in we past hillside after hillside of tightly packed suburbs, this is where most of the 40 million occupants must live. Reaching up to the top of the surrounding hills, the sides of an old volcano, people would live their entire lives here in brightly painted basic concrete block homes with hardly a tree to be seen.
The subway was easy to navigate, 5 pesos per person per ride anywhere in the system. We exited in the centre of town to beautifully manicured gardens, large beautiful buildings gave me the feeling I was in London with a large H&M store on one corner and Starbucks on the other. Travelling with the kids, often means we don’t get to go into as many galleries and museums as we would have liked. Sadly we weren’t able to visit the Freida Kahlo museum, Dad and Jenn did as they spent the night in the city, said it was very good and well worth the visit. Strolling through the city pedestrian area lead us the the main city square and Cathedral. A towering old cathedral with several different architectural styles that is slowly listing to one side as the ground is giving way beneath the weight. The well worn marble floors leading through oversized, iron riveted wooden doors. The pipe organ was playing as mass was about to finish. Removing our hats and turning the camera flash off, we quietly took in the grand altar and side chapels with carved altars dedicated to various saints hundreds of years old. I’m sure this place holds many secrets.
The kids loved to see the costumed street dancers, shamans smudging people lining up to have their spirits cleansed and the hustle and bustle of the locals street market off the beaten path. But kids can only do so much walking and Jaxon soon began to complain and drag his body reluctantly and dramatically along. Time to head home.
Tomorrow we drive to Puebla and her secret tunnels and Cholula, home of the largest pyramid and prettiest church.