Monday, April 20, 2009

Mexico + Dasha + Taxco, story 1

My friend Dasha recently moved to the United States. Originally we were supposed to meet there, but in the end Dasha flew to meet me in the Mexico City instead. We crashed in Abraham's place, a friend of my Oaxaca couchsurfing host. Luis Alfonso did warn us before that Abraham's apartment is totally new and there's no furniture yet, and sure enough pretty much the only non-built-in objects in the apartment were the laptops. And for some reason there were very many of them.

This was a brand new and fancy apartment building, with security staff, in-house laundry service, lounge area and so on. Me and Dasha were playing with the idea of going to sleep downstairs on the lounge couches, but we never really got around to dot it. How does one go about crashing in a fancy apartment building's public lounge, when every inch of the building is covered with security cameras and security guards are touring around? We had this idea that we will go downstairs with our sleeping bags, settle in on the couches and place couple of open books next to us, as if we both have accidentally fallen asleep while reading. But how do you explain accidentally wearing earplugs and an eyecover as well :) ? We never really cracked that last obstacle and thus slept on the apartment floor.

Our host and his friends were most gracious. They took us to Mariachi bar where the mood was in double high spirits because Mexico had just won over Puerto Rico in football. The bar itself was very simple, crowded, loud and plain wonderful. Mariachi music seems to be a bit like a national pride in Mexico, people appear to take great pleasure in singing the songs and enjoying the music. In this bar you could hire a Mariachi band to come to your table and perform a song of your choice. When this happened everybody was wholeheartedly singing along (Luis Alfonso here on the photo illustrating the case in point) and it was sad for me to watch it because i would've so wanted to join but i didn't know any of the songs.

Tequila was drank by bottles and though i haven't been a big tequila fan so far, i think it's likely to change now. One of Luis Alfonso's friends Pedro was stopping every once in a while in our table and at some point Luis Alfonso told me to try the tequila Pedro had with him as it was supposed to be "much better" than the stuff we were drinking. I told him that i'm not a big tequila drinker so doubtfully i will be able to tell the difference, but surprisingly enough the difference was very obvious, even to a tequila-novice like me as it really was "much better". From then on every time Pedro came around to our table i was eyeballing his glass. Only later i found out that this "better" tequila was also about 150 pesos / shot; well, it's good to know that at least i have an expensive taste :).

Usually if i as much as sniff alcohol i will die of hangover the next day. And since tequila isn't exactly mild stuff, i was kind of worried how will my health be the day after. Mostly because me and Dasha had an 8 o'clock wake up planned to go and visit Teotihuacan. To my great surprise (and relief, i must add) i was absolutely brilliant the next day, not even a hint of hangover. I think i will stick to tequila from now on, hopefully it wasn't just a one-time glitch.

Yeah, that Mariachi bar was definitely a fun place, mostly thanks to the great company we had. Mexicans also have some border-line absurd party games, one of them being electrification. A guy walked around in a bar with a small machine offering a service of electrifying people. Everybody at the table has to join hands and electric current is charged through you. He turns the current higher and higher until you can't take it anymore. I must admit, it was kind of weird service to offer in a bar, but it made everybody laugh and giggle, so it was definitely fun enough and therefore served it's purpose.

Sadly we had to cut our party a bit shorter than originally planned, because some next table narcotraficantes were showing off their guns and generally seemed to be interested in picking a fight with our company.

Abraham, Moisés, Arturo & Juan Manuel
- please, guys, do forgive me, if i got any of your names wrong :)

Happy company of people in tequila-induced over-drive
(Juan Manuel, Dasha, Luis Alfonso, me!, Moisés, Antonio, Abraham, Arturo and Mariana)

With the Mariachi singer, whom Dasha is violating there

(c) copyright of the photos above Arturo Unda and/or Mariana Ortega


Luis Alfonso will argue with me, but Teotihuacan is a huge building complex often associated with the Aztecs. It's about 1,5 hour bus-ride from Mexico City, so a good option for a day-trip. When in Palenque i got to see the Mayan ruins, then in Teotihuacan i had a chance to observe the part of history of quite a different culture. Originally the city is said to have covered over 20 square kilometres and today only about 3 square kilometres has been renovated and open to the public. That doesn't sound as much, but trust me, the site is quite huge. Teotihuacan is the largest archaeological site in Mexico.

I can't say i really enjoyed the site, because not only was the whole place a terrible overcrowded tourist meat-market, trinket-salesguys in equal numbers agressively harassing you on every step, but i also didn't appreciate the apparent overzealous restoration of the temples. I like my ruins actually in ruins, not overly neat and pretty. I'm quite sure that the ancient culture that once inhabited Teotihuacan did not intend to use metal hooks and concrete in their buildings. Why not already install elevators or escalators also to the temples, while they're at it?

On our way to Teotihuacan bus picked up a (Mariachi) singer who settled right next to me and serenaded 5-6 songs. If we hadn't gone to a Mariachi bar the night before, i would've thought that he is actually quite ok, but in comparison with the previous night's performances he was just plain bad. And his guitar was out of tune, Dasha said.

It took us some time to organize a tourist-free shot

The Avenue of the Dead

The most important pyramid on the site ..

.. which everybody wanted to climb on top of ..

.. like little ants

Coming down from the pyramids was always scarier than getting up there

Going to Teotihuacan? Don't forget to tie your child on a leash!

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