3rd to 6th June

Tuesday 3 June

After a first good night in Mexico, we take our first breakfast here, a few sandwiches. Then we go to the main square, called Zócalo (I cannot say centre, because we are accommodated in the centre, and the Zócalo is also in the centre, the scale is different here). It is a huge square, totally naked, and closed to the public currently, due to some construction or reparation works, with historical buildings on the four sides, and a giant Mexican flag on a pole in the middle of the square.

Low-05762

We can do everything we need nearby: withdraw money, buy a local simcard, put credit on this simcard (but in another shop, it would be too easy), buy a map of the city! We are very easily spotted as tourists, probably because of the camera, the height of Mick, our speaking French. Here, they call us “güero” or “gringo”, and they try to talk to us or answer us in English. Please my dear Latin American friends, remember that not all the tourists are from USA, and that it can happen that they prefer not to use the language of the hereditary enemy.

We visit the cathedral of the city, including its towers. This cathedral was built since 1571, on the place of the former (and smaller) cathedral that Cortes had erected.

Low-05745
Low-05785

The bell towers, on each side of the central body, are 67m high. We have a complete description of the bells, there are 35 currently, from 50kg to 13 tons. They all have a different voice, and are used at very distinct moment. One of the bells has a tragic story. This bell is used a little differently from a standard bell: the monk excite its movement, by pushing it, till it does a complete tour (the 360º). Of course, the monk has to be careful because it is somewhat dangerous to play with the bell, weighing several tons, that can come back, forth and from above! So in 1847, an inexperienced monk was exciting the movement of this bell. But when it completed its tour, he did not see it coming and received the massive bronze structure on the head, killing him immediately. After this murder, the bell was punished: it had its clapper removed and got attached on the wall. Fortunately, in 2000, during the jubilee of the church, the bell got forgave! So it has been placed again in the bell tower, and it has been used in the last 4 years. You can see the forgiveness of the bell marked by the red latin cross.

Low-1140757

For lunch, we discover our first Mexican dishes. On the table, there are 3 sauces of different colours (red, yellow, green), and they quickly bring the corn tortillas, so we can try the sauces. Big mistake! All the three are not only spicy, they set your mouth on fire for the next half an hour. Finally, we have some tacos.

Low-1140761
Low-1140762

In the afternoon, we visit an exhibition about the architecture of Mexico in the last century: we see the evolution from the classical and imposing style at the beginning of the 20th century (monument to the revolution, legislative palace, !) to the modern abstract constructions.

Then, we have a meeting with Rafael Carmona, a member of the ANES (Asociación Nacional de Energía solar), and president of Greenmotion. The report of our meeting can be found on this page of the blog.

Wednesday 4 June

Today, we visit the pre-Hispanic site of Teotihuacan. It is situated some 50km North East of Mexico city. The valley of Teotihuacan started to be populated some 2500 years BC, and the city appeared around 1AD. It grew during two centuries, till it reached the size of 20km2, and a population of around 100000 habitants at its apogee, between the 3rd and 7th century. No need to say that it was the most important city of Mesoamerica at that time. This complex was accepted as UNESCO heritage site in 1987.

The ruins present two huge pyramids: the Sun pyramid and the Moon pyramid, of 63m and 45m high respectively. There are dozens of other small pyramids, remnants of the many temples of the city. The main avenue is the Dead Avenue, going from the Moon pyramid to the Citadel, on which the most opulent houses and temples were built. Unfortunately, the site has been completely restaured at the beginning of the 20th century, in a way quite different from the original. The pyramids used to be covered with stucco, and not volcanic stones. Also the Sun pyramid only had 4 levels, and not 5.

Low-05796
Low-05799
Low-05811
Low-05843

We tried a new drink today: the Pulque. It is a fermented rice drink, nicknamed the “drink of the gods”. It is from the same family of the chicha we tried in South America (a little like the beer or the cider). There is not much alcohol, and you feel the sparkling taste. However, there is a very strong taste of! cheese fondue. I love cheese fondue, but I have to admit that as a drink it is too weird.

Low-1140766
Low-1140767

Thursday 5 June

Today is a museum day. Mexico city has a lot of history, the country of Mexico is very rich culturally, so its capital is full of museums. The day starts in Coyoacan. It is a neighbourhood in the South of the city, with smaller buildings, like personal houses, you feel like in a village. It is where the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo lived. Lev Trotsky also had his house there, when he was exiled from the URSS. His house has been transformed into a museum, which gives an interesting insight on the life of this exceptional revolutionary. You can find a complete description of the visit on this entry of the blog.

The next visit is the blue house, where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived between 1929 and 1954. It is also where they received Trotsky during two years, between 1937 and 1939. The house is now a museum, where we discover the universe of the artistic couple. Frida saw her body tortured by the life: at the age of 6, she was stricken by the poliomyelitis, which left her right leg shorter than the left. At 18, the bus in which she was seating had an accident with a tramway, and she had her uterus stabbed by a metallic bar, leaving her sterile. Every time she was going out, she had to wear a corset (in leather or in plaster). It is around these traumas that she developed her artistic personality. She had a wheelchair to move around, and spent most of her days in a bed specially arranged for her: above it, a mirror, which she used to paint her famous auto portraits, and she had the view on the outside. When she was going out for a social event, she used to wear some traditional clothes of Mexico: a Tehuana skirt, which was very long, covering her disgraceful legs. And she wore a lot of accessories on the top part of her body, to attract the attention of the people there. This way of dressing was also a political statement of her indigenous origin (exactly from the Oaxaca province, where the Tehuana skirt are from), and her pride to be a Mexican.

The last visit of the day is at the Anthropology museum of Mexico. This place is huge! For sure, one day is not enough to see it all. It starts with the history of the first humans, the migrations the followed to arrive to the American continent. And many of the pre-Hispanic civilisations of Mesoamerica are presented: Toltecs, Aztecs or Mexicas, Mayas, Mixtecs, ! The Mayas had a full system of hieroglyph for writing, while the Mexicas used to mnemotechnic drawings to remember their stories.

In the evening, we meet in the centre Alejandro, a classmate of Mick in Nantes. He came back from Europe six months ago, and is now working in the German company GIZ, advocating for energy efficiency.

Friday 6 June

In the morning, we rest at the house. Mick takes advantage of this rest day to go to an ostheopath’s to get repaired for our next bicycle section, next week. We leave in the afternoon, to take the bus for Puebla, where Pepito is waiting for us. One last picture with Diego and Chess, and let’s go!

Low-2

Diego comes with us till the terminal. We can load the bikes without paying an extra, in fact we access the trunks without any control. But to go on board the bus, they refuse any bag, or even the charango.

As we arrive in Puebla, around 20h, it starts to rain. We mount the bikes, and ride for Pepito’s house. It is only 5-6 kilometres, but under a strong rain. After 5 minutes, we are wet. We arrive at the house by night, under the rain! a little like our arrival in Phnom Penh. It is good to see again Pepito, six months after. We eat with him and his family and friends.

Low-05857

Here comes the video of these days: