The Best of the Bajío: Mexico City and Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán, Mexico City and Corruption in Mexico

Up until this point, I have never felt so proud showing my parents around Mexico. From the bio-diverse landscape to the stunning architecture and delicious food, everything has been wonderful.

I guess I might have spoken too soon. :/

Corruption in Mexico 

Saturday morning we left Querétaro bright and early for the ruins of Teotihuacán.
For this trip we would cross the border from the state of Querétaro to the state of Mexico, and would have to pay mandatory tolls. As we slowly approached the desolate toll both at the border of Querétaro and Mexico, a state patrol officer slowly waved us to pull off the freeway.
He informed us that we were breaking the law by driving our car on a Saturday, since we had a foreign license plate. Our car was rented from the district of Mexico City, so it was considered a foreign vehicle. He told us the fine was 6,500 pesos or around $500 USD. We told him the rental company had not informed us of such a restriction and we thus began to discuss with the officer how we shouldn’t be required to pay this fine. He told us that we had to pay, or our car would be towed and we would be stranded.
We asked if we could just turn around and head back toward Querétaro without passing state line and he replied that it was too late now, and that our vehicle was being taped on camera at the toll booth.
For there, a police officer aggressively approached us as well to introduce himself and re-explain the circumstances of the ticket. I could start to smell a scam, since the price of fine stated by the officer was now 4,500 MXN. Since we did not have enough money to pay the fine, he asked us how much cash we could give him now. We said not much in MXN pesos, but we had USD. He told us if we gave him $100 cash, we could go.0caa5-100_usd_01From there, I started to get extremely frustrated. There had to be someway out of this mess. The state patrol had this smirk on his face and looked very eager to grab the crisp dollar bills out of our hands.
After much debate, I told the officer (in Spanish) that I could get him all his money, but we would have to turn back and head to the nearest ATM a few miles back. After some negotiation, he dropped the metal chain that separated the sides of the freeway and let us leave to get his money. Well, we did get money from the ATM, but it was only to fill up on gasoline and get out of there. There was no way in heck we were going back that way to let that corrupt cop pocket our money!
We were able to take the back roads all the way to the ruins of Teotihuacán and avoided passing through that toll both. We later chatted with the rental company who told us that the car was legal to drive in all states at all times, and the officer just wanted our money.
The whole experience was horrendous! Never in all my time here have I been so embarrassed for the country of Mexico. While police officers and federal officials should be those you turn to in times of need, in Mexico they appear to be shady characters with poor morals. All I have to say is, shame on you for all of your scamming.  You are making a mockery of yourselves and this type of behavior reflects poorly on the appearance of your country as a whole. While the patrons of Mexico have been nothing but kind and respectful, the higher authorities seem to take advantage of their power and position. Such a disgrace. :/
Anyway, despite that nerve-wrecking experience, we made it to Teotihuacán in good spirits! 😀
We were not about to let some crooked police officers affect our spirits. No way, no how!

Teotihuacán

We were glad we persisted in our venture too, because the ruins of Teotihuacán were absolutely mind-blowing!20150404_124812 (1)The construction of these Mesoamerican pyramids began in 200 AD, and remains the largest discovered ruins in Mexico at a staggering 23 kilometers. The layout of the ruins begins with a large patio called Calzada de los Muertos, which breaks off into several distinct structures, including the Pyramid of Sun and the Pyramid of the moon.
IMG_1074IMG_0981Our first stop was to the Temple of Quetzacoatl, which was built to honor the feathered serpent God Quetzacoatl, as well as, many other deities.IMG_0987IMG_0991IMG_0995
IMG_1001Touring these pyramids is quite the trek and I should note that they only sell water at the front entrance, so stock up! From there, we followed the Calzada de los Muertos towards the Pyramid of Sun.IMG_1002IMG_100320150404_120301The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure, and rivals the great pyramids of Egypt.
IMG_1029 IMG_1015IMG_1031This is an original mural of a large wild cat, most likely a puma. IMG_1045The most impressive panoramic view was found from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon.IMG_1058IMG_1066The view of this empire in its entirety is absolutely breathtaking.
IMG_1069IMG_1070Teotihuacán was believed to be at its peak around 650 AD, and its still unclear whether the empire fell due to agricultural decline or military invasion. Nonetheless, the remaining ruins are absolutely outstanding!

As such, when the Aztecs later visited these ruins, they gave them the name Teotihuacán which means, “the place where men become Gods.”

IMG_1050IMG_1051

Mexico City 

After an incredibly physically and emotionally draining day, we dropped off our rental car and took a taxi into Mexico City.
As a side note, taxis in Mexico City are much more expensive than Querétaro, but are well worth it considering how much luggage we had. 🙂
We arrived at our hotel, the Emporio Reforma, which was a stunning vintage building with surprisingly modern accommodations.

IMG_1090IMG_1093After checking-in, we headed out for dinner at Sanborns, which is a chain restaurant similar to a Mexican Applebees. 🙂IMG_1089IMG_1077We hadn’t eaten much that day, so all of the food tasted incredible. I ordered a tasty green pozole, which is a white corn soup made with chicken, and topped with lime, chili and tortilla chips.IMG_1079Mom enjoyed a tasty strawberry smoothie and Dad treated himself to a slice of tiramisu.IMG_1075IMG_1081This restaurant is also adjacent to the exquisite Hotel Geneve. I peaked inside to view their lavish lobby and ornate cafe.
IMG_1084IMG_1086By 7 PM we could be found laying in our plush hotel beds relaxing and cheering on the Badger basketball team! Go Bucky! 😀4a43f-buckybadgerbasketballThe last morning in Mexico City, we did a bit of sightseeing around the historic center. We walked along Reforma Avenue, which was originally designed by Emperor Maximilian to rival the great European cities. This wide boulevard was full of beautiful trees, marble monuments and scattered with quaint parks.

IMG_1127IMG_109520150405_082700This is Palacio de Bellas Artes, where they hold many theater performances.
IMG_1105We also stopped at the main Cathedral, which is the largest in Latin America.
IMG_110920150405_085024IMG_1111IMG_1114For brunch, we went to the famous Cafe de Tacuba.IMG_1116Happy Easter! 😀IMG_1119We enjoyed a Spanish omelette of potatoes and onions, and eggs with beans and mole.
IMG_1122IMG_1121IMG_1120The atmosphere was excellent, with colorful tiles lining the walls, ornate stained glass windows and live opera music. 🙂IMG_1126IMG_1125After a emotional farewell, my parents returned back to Wisconsin and I headed toward Chiapas for another weeks worth of vacation. It will be a trip full of adventure and natural wonders. Can’t wait to share it all with you! Until then. 🙂

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