Mexico - A City with a rich outdoor life and historic sites
Mexicans love outdoor life. On every Sunday invariably many of the city folks take to the streets, literally. In keeping with their mood, or shall we say trait, the governing authorities too have been kind in declaring several important thoroughfares out of bounds for four-wheelers for a specified period from early morning. And that is a big relief because the population of four-wheelers in the City can be mind-boggling. So Sundays many citizens, young and gold grab their bicycles and indulge in what seems a passion.
At times Sundays are also reserved for the marathon runners and in this participation is what mattered not exactly performance! All this does not affect traffic flow but detouring becomes a necessity and nobody complains. Tradition is respected. And tradition begins at the Statue of the Angel of Independence, built in 1910 to commemorate the centennial of beginning of Mexico's war of independence. It is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the City on the main thoroughfare.The cycling and marathon runs begin here.
It is not as though cycling is the only pastime or marathon for that matter but historic sites, tourist spots are equally in demand. One such place of fascinating history and bewitching beauty are the Mexican pyramids in a place around 40 km North East from the Centre of the City and the site is supposed to be in a mini city in itself called Teotihuacan.
A drive to this place can be smooth but upto a point for nearing the place and even as the majestic Pyramid of the Sun, the biggest structure in the western hemisphere come to sight, the traffic clog would have begun until vehicles move in a snail's pace nearing the venue. For outsiders it would seem something amiss, maybe a major traffic snarl or perhaps major happening ahead for such is the slowness of the vehicular movement. But this is the Sunday scene be it at Teotihuacan or elsewhere of tourist importance! No chaos but testing time for patience and Mexicans have this in plenty!
The Pyramid of the Sun or the Temple of the Sun as is the belief is a massive structure with an overpowering look. It was believed to have been built in the pre-Aztec civilization period, several thousand years ago. What strikes is the technical acumen of architects then. Scaling a height of a 20 plus storeyed building and a base that would stretch to more than two football grounds in length alone, the brick-coloured Pyramid of Sun is a sight to behold. With steps in place right to the zenith the interest or better put, challenge is to climb right upto the top.
Once upon a time it is said a temple existed right on the summit but cleared away in the Spanish invasion. Fortunately nothing else has been left to ruins, thus making it a must-see place of interest and perhaps mystery too for no clear evidence is there of what lay underneath or inside these pyramids. The Pyramid of the Moon, located a little away is smaller in comparison and leading to that there is a row of other Pyramid-remains on either side of what looked a massive central road (they call it the Street of the dead).
On a Sunday there is a sea of humanity. Foreign tourists, yes, but a major part is the Mexicans themselves. Perhaps there is the challenge of the climb that draws them there or maybe there is room for a homage and worship because the belief that the two Pyramids which stand represent the Gods of Sun and Moon. People trickle in from morning with no hurry to return. Bask in the mild sun and soak in the atmosphere seem natural.
What is noteworthy is that this is the story every Sunday, rain or shine! Not just in Teotihuacan but elsewhere too, say even in the history-rich Desierto De Los Leones, also called the 'Desert of the Lions' located south of the City in a hilly area. Designated as a national park, this is spread over 4500 acres and about 10,000 feet above sea level. Unlike the name, the Park is not a desert but dense greenery, filled as it is with trees of various hues. Nor are there lions. It appears when the Spanish invaders had come in they had seen Puma (common term for big cat family) wandering in the woods. None exist now, not even reptiles according to locals.
Not far away from the bustling city, this Park is the most sought after getaway for the citizens and they do that in big numbers. With lakes and streams in the downside of the hilly park, there is more than cycling for the sports-minded and fun-loving to get occupied with. An abandoned 17th century Convent within the green settings standout for its oddity. It used to be a place for monks seeking retreat and meditation. In the wake of the Spanish invasion, the convent was abandoned and turned army barracks. Some say it also came in handy for the rebels to hide.
For now the Convent presents not just the ageing structure with an acoustic-rich concert hall, a well manicured garden all around that lead to a forest trail but also a section with paintings of Mexican heroes. One among them was the iconic Emiliano Zapata, a hero in the country. His unique moustache was to become famous!