Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, located about 40 kilometers north of Mexico City, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, the archaeological site of Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the “street of the dead” where they used to sacrifice people, and its colorful, well-preserved murals. You can stroll around the grounds and still actually ascend the steep climb to the top of the pyramids where the panoramic views are spectacular over the whole site and of the surrounding countryside. Teotihuacan is quite a nice escape from the gridlock of Mexico City.
My friends Sergio, Jake and I were in Mexico City for the weekend and decided to check out the site which took about an hour to get to from the center of Mexico City-give or take depending on traffic of course which is brutal in Mexico City. We hired a driver from the hotel to bring us and back for only $100. As you pull into the site, you can´t help but marvel at the size of the structure. The big pyramid is a massive structure that resembles some of the pyramids of Egypt but isn´t nearly the size of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Teotihuacan however, does have its own merits.
The site itself is very well maintained and the pyramids are easily climbed. It is steep and if you are a smoker like my good friend Sergio, you may have some issues getting up, but in the end everyone made it up and the views from the top are fantastic as I said. The walk up has a rope in the middle, a chain actually, for extra support for people who feel they need it, similar to the chain at Ayers Rock in Australia. The whole climb up will take only about 20 minutes at the most if you don´t take too many breaks.
At the top, you can just relax and take in the view or take a walk around the top as the pyramid is layered so you can actually walk around the top and at different levels on the way up. The best part of the view is looking over at the other pyramid and seeing the vastness of the street of the dead. It is quite impressive.
After scaling back down the large pyramid of the sun, we headed up the pyramid of the moon which is much smaller but still very impressive. Again, the views looking back up the street of the dead toward the pyramid of the sun are wonderful. We just relaxed up on the perch of the pyramid and took it all in as we had some time to kill before we met our driver. There were many tourists at Teotihuacan but not nearly as many as I expected. The biggest culprits were the Mexican school trips that had a ton of kids in uniforms running around.
After a good two hours in Teotihuacan, Sergio and Jake wanted to try some weird food. Namely ant eggs and worms. Now I love to eat and have tried some weird things around the world but seeking them out is not my forte and I am not a huge fan of funky foods in general. However, Sergio was hellbent on trying these local “delicacies” so we had the driver stop and bring us to a place where we could try them.
To spare you the gruesome details, the ant eggs were marginal at best and in fact I would recommend not eating them but the worms however, were surprisingly good. Although it wasn´t quite that simple. The waitress brought us this hot sauce type stuff and some tortillas. Now I wasn´t that hungry so I just poured some of the hot sauce onto a tortilla and made a hot sauce taco, or so I thought. As I was just finishing enjoying what I was eating, we were wondering where the worms were, so we asked the waitress and she told us they were in the hot sauce we just ate, all mashed up. After hearing that news and thinking how much of it I just ingested, I nearly threw up. Then she brought out the bag of worms to show us what type of worms were in there. They looked like tequila worms but were still filthy nonetheless. I felt ill. Jake and Sergio got their fill of ant eggs and worms and we headed back into Mexico City where that night I had some amazing steak tartare at some nice French Place called Ivoire right in Polanco (a nice neighborhood in Mexico City) to make up for the worm fiasco.
All in all, our trip to Teotihuancan was a great time and well worth the trip out. As far as ruins in the Americas, it is up there with Chichen Itza, Copan and Tikal. The site and layout in jungle of Tikal still gets my vote for top ancient American site but Teotihuacan is well worth a visit and a must see on any serious travelers resume.