Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by mythology and the cultures who worshipped colorful animal gods and supernatural beings; ancient Mesoamerica in particular was fascinating in its legends, graphic design, and vibrant colors. When I got to college I minored in American Indian studies and took Mexican Art, where it was spelled out that the pre-Colombian cultures were dismissed as backward sacrificial maniacs who put wheels on toys but didn’t use them any other way because it didn’t fit into the Eurocentric colonial narrative that thriving advanced cultures existed here for thousands of years before the conquistadors. More than anything during my trip to Mexico City, I was looking forward to visiting some of the archaeological sites of Mesoamerica.
Teotihuacan, some 45 km from downtown Mexico City, has existed roughly 2400 years and I’ve never been to someplace as connected to ancient civilization. It predates the Aztec civilization that most people associate with it by 1000 years. We left our hotel at 6am on a Sunday morning because of my terrible experience with Mexico City traffic; turns out we were the first tourists of the day, which was a free day to Mexican nationals. The tourists and aggressive merchants slowly filled up the main avenue and pyramids, but going early meant we got to see a dozen hot air balloons sweep over the city at sunrise.
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