(Note: There are still a few pictures that need to be uploaded)
Apologies on not posting this Thursday. Thursday was a very full and busy day. By the time I was able to post and update I did not feel like using my brain :). Instead I now write you from thousands of feet up in the sky!
This story would not be complete without starting out by mentioning that Karen, Miguel, Richard, and I were up until past 3 am. We had a great time drinking Macallan 12 Fine Oak scotch
Playing guitar and singing together ( Cows are yummy! )
(Note: Video is not sideways due to me :S. You have a laptop you can rotate though right? 😉 )
And other generally fun carousing.
Thursday was the day set aside for fun trips and souvenir gathering. Richard made a great connection with the Taxi driver who happened to be the driver who took the airport arrivals to La Casa several times. The driver overheard Richard describing plans for Thursday and hooked us up with a very reasonably priced driver and 15 passenger van for the day. The van arrived at 9 am ( recall half of us stayed up past 3 am? 🙁 ).
Our first stop was a nearby coffee shop. Starbucks was the closest. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this Starbucks was very nice inside. In fact I think it is the nicest Starbucks I have ever been inside of. Possibly it is nice due to the guard armed with a shotgun who was standing next to the door ;). I was sent in to order for the entire group. The fellow taking our order was very confused. I guess American orders are much more complex than most Mexican due to his response. Surprisingly the cost for 8 drinks was very reasonable.
*** STILL NEED TO UPLOAD STARBUCKS PICS
The first destination was about 30 minutes from La Casa and was a rather large impressive temple complex.
When we arrived there was a mass happening that I popped in on for a bit.
The complex consisted of several building. The older temple was impressive in the extreme. The first part I stopped into was a “small” side chapel. This chapel’s roof was probably 75 feet or more in height. I have noticed that images of Jesus have been in the rear and sides of the other church buildings but this particular chapel seemed to feature Jesus in every direction in multiple activities. One in particular caused me to chuckle as it looks like Jesus is using a cellphone ( and as someone mentioned “he be poopin'” ).
The main sanctuary in the old temple is slowly falling in several directions and it was very obvious when walking along the front of the building and when looking at the chandeliers hanging angle versus the pillars inside.
I could not ( still cannot! ) get over the majesty and grandeur of the main sanctuary. The rest of the place had very much impressed me, however this part absolutely took my breath away. There were paintings a good twenty feet tall, intricate carving and statues, and art everywhere. I wish the images could capture the majesty of this place but they simply cannot. You really need to be there fully immersed to experience it. I would snap a few pictures and lower my camera thinking I had something great only to slightly turn my head to see something even more wonderful. It was everywhere I looked, even on the ceiling!
The pyramids were the penultimate destination of the day so though I would have been quite happy wandering the temple complex for many many more hours Richard hustled us back to the van and we set off for the pyramids. On the way there we realized the time and turned down and old bumpy cobbled road in the middle of a field for what felt like miles of bone jarring bumpiness but which in reality was probably quite short. Our destination? Only the coolest restaurant in existence! The driver pulled up next to a cave and we piled out of the van. The restaurant was in the cave! And it was not a little cave either. We walked down two flights of stairs to get to our table. We beat the lunch crowd and were the only patrons. It was simply stunning. Richard thought it would be good to give us a culinary culture lesson and ordered ant eggs and grubs for an appetizer. You may not be aware but I am a fairly picky eater. Over the past couple years I have really been pushing myself to expand my palate and am willing to at least try most foods now. When the ant eggs came I immediately scooped some onto my plate. They were not bad actually. Most of the taste consisted of the onions ( which I am not a fan of due to texture ). The eggs themselves had a soft rice-like texture to them. The grubs were a different matter. When I saw that plate set on the table my body revolted. Those gross squirmy things I used to feed to my Leopard Geckos! *shiver*. Richard scooped one up instantly and started chowing down with a big mischievous grin on his face. George picked up the plate to hand it to me. When I refused he optically berated me with his eyes and picked up a grub for himself. I then decided that if I am really interested in expanding my palate I should try at least one. Timidly I placed a grub in my mouth and bit down. I expected a slight resistance followed by a pop as the skin broke then squishy gooeyness to flood my mouth. The grub was not at all what I expected. Instead it was about the taste and consistency of a hollow french fry. I wound up eating many of them and even made a guacamole and grub burrito.
*** STILL NEED TO UPLOAD BUG PICS
Next up was the first pyramid! Pyramid del Sol. The pyramids and surrounding structures were very impressive. Pyramid del Sol was built by creating a large mound of dirt and packing the outside with stones. I snapped a lot of pictures at the pyramids, but am most intrigued about the panoramic shots. With the shot from the tower the day before coming out so well I decided to give it another go. At each level of the pyramid I captured images intended for the panoramic images. They are processing as I write this and will be added later.
The climb to the top was not as arduous as I had anticipated. The stairs were in no way uniform, with some being very steep, some deep, and others so narrow I had to step sideways. I took my time getting to the top and was not even winded. The surface was not smooth at all and children were running all over. It made me a little nervous. I am curious as to how many injuries happen there each year and if it is common for people to fall over the side and tumble to the bottom.
Shortly after taking a group photo a thunderclap rolled over the pyramid. George pointed off into the distance at a gigantic storm cloud that reached all the way to the ground. It was clearly very stormy somewhere. After watching the storm for a few seconds George says, “It is coming this way, quickly. We should get off the pyramid.” He them strenuously attempted to get us off the pyramid for safety sake. Of course I stayed behind to get my panorama shots. With everyone rushing off the pyramid it made for the best photo opportunities! We also stopped again on each level while descending for various other pictures. George continued to the bottom without us I think in frustration. As the rest of us assembled at the bottom the rain came. At first it was a light rain. At least for someone from Seattle. The others were not too chipper about it though. The rain increased in intensity very rapidly until it was coming down in large stinging drops. It was also cold, which caused me to involuntarily suck in a breath with each drop. As you can imagine I had difficulty breathing ;). We booked it back to the parking lot and luckily for us our driver had found a spot just at the entrance. I was the last one to pile in and after regaining my breath and laughter and wonderment between us I took a look around the van and realized three of us were missing! Karen, Beckett, and Miguel were nowhere to be found. The water coming off the pyramid had turned into a 30 foot wide rushing torrent outside of the van and I wondered if they had been carried off by it. We sat in the van for at least a half an hour, probably closer to forty minutes before the storm let up enough that the stragglers were able to make it to the van in relative dryness.
Due to the rain the museum was closed so we went to a nearby cafe to dry out and warm up with some coffee. When we finished there we attempted to go to the nearby temple but it was closed and they refused even to let us into the parking lot to take pictures. We also tried to get into the other pyramid and another place only to be turned away again :(. So we started heading back towards La Casa. Traffic lights in Mexico City are more ridiculous even than lights in Orange County. I am pretty sure we could have walked to our next destination at least as fast as the van, if not faster.
We stopped off at an arch which has a unique history. It was originally intended to be a large government building of some sort but construction stopped after building only this arched portion due to some uprisings. Construction never completed and now it is instead a tourist destination. There is a glass encased elevator that will take you to the top where there is a spectacular view of the city. Only a couple of us went up, but it was well worth it. And I was able to get another great panoramic shot!
Finally we decided to turn our feet and tires towards our temporary home. It should only have taken about 20 minutes to get back but due to traffic and the lights it took much much longer. George’s wife and child were flying in to join us that evening. The plan was to drop everyone off and George to head to the airport with our driver. Instead we sat in traffic until George needed to head to the airport. Rather than sit in the van for another hour or more half the group got out and grabbed a taxi to complete the journey to La Casa. Karen, Miguel, and I stayed in the van with George. I jokingly said a beer would be nice about now and Miguel had the driver turn into a mini-mart where we picked up several beers. Apparently it is ok for passengers to drink in a taxi. We cheers’d the day and all had a good laugh.
When we finally returned to La Casa Miguel and I went to the Mega store for some Tequila. A helpful gentleman at the store taught Miguel how to properly choose and drink Tequila, including smelling an breathing techniques. The bottle he recommended was quite excellent too. The rest of the night was spent draining the bottle by Karen, Michelle, Miguel and myself. George came back into the room later with a card game he brought called Fluxx and the five of us played. Great game. The rules are constantly changing as different cards are played. I am going to acquire this game for myself.
I think I went to be around 1:30 am. The driver was planning on returning to pick me up at 5 am.