We are setting off to Guanajuato for the Amazing International Cervantino Festival after an incredible couple days in Mexico City. I am left with a question that I would like to principally direct towards the teachers I've had in the past and the educational system in general. Why have I not learned about the incredible history of my own part of the world? Being in Mexico City one can not help but admire and somewhat envy Mexico's strong connection with its own history. This is certainly influenced by the mistico culture, which is the mix of both Native and European heritage, such that the majority of Mexicans have an indigenous heritage. However, this is no excuse for the fact that we up north know little to nothing about the culture and heritage of what we call the Americas prior to colonization.
The great pyramid of Cholula, still being excavated near Puebla, is by volume the largest pyramid In the world. The third largest is the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City. The scale and history of these locations are beyond belief and well… come on America! How did I not know all this? Once I am able to swallow my indignation I am able to focus on the incredible scenes of Mexico City. We ran around the city on the ridiculously efficient subway system visiting different barrios from the bohemian Roma district to the party centric Zona Rosa, to mellow and artistic Coyacan where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera once lived. We also visited the Anthropological Museum which puts together an incredible history of Mesoamerica (also known as American history.)
Mexico city itself is a bustling concoction of street performers, business, rush hour subway traffic, beautiful architecture adjacent to poorly maintained store fronts, and hip neighborhoods with live music and mezcal. On Friday night we discovered that Mexico does indeed produce some delicious IPAs and Red Ales, and then moved on to Mexican staples like Corona while cheering on our new favorite luchador, Mistico, at Lucha Libre.
We visited the Diego Rivera Mural Museum and also saw his masterful murals at the Palacio Nacional. His stairway mural incorporates over a thousand characters as it illustrates the history of Mexico from ancient through modern times. He is depicted in his own work many times over as a child, a frog, a dog, a baby, and as a priest lustfully leaning over a prostitute. He was uncompromising in his work and it is incredible to see a depiction of governmental corruption, religious hypocrisy, the subjugation of indigenous people, and communist ideals right there in the house of government power. The idea that this could exist anywhere in the United States let alone in a governmental building is laughable. Again, come on America!
On departing Mexico City, we went to Teotihuacan to explore the Temples of the Sun, the Moon, and the Avenue of the Dead. These incredible temples rise above the landscape like mountains and the ambition of their construction is astounding. Later in the day men, women, and children began arriving in traditional Mexica dress and wildly plumed head dresses. They gathered at the base of the Temple of the Sun, burned incense, and began drumming as they performed a traditional ceremony and dance. Again, it was hard not to be jealous of a people's strong connection to and knowledge of their own history and culture, and a little irritated to have known so little about it growing up.