Flying over the coastline of Tamaulipas, a beautiful blonde woman near me wakes up from her snooze just as the flight attendant asks me what beverage I’d like.
“Oh my God, was I sleeping with my mouth open”?! she asks me while her hand quickly reaches toward my arm.
I laugh a little, then reply. “Yes, you were but that’s okay, it happens to the best of us. You don’t need to feel bad”.
Her outburst became an instant unconventional icebreaker between two travellers which lead to us chit chatting for the duration of our flight toward Mexico City.
She, and about 8 other people were traveling in a group for the sole purpose of taking a 5 week Mexican immersion course. They were young Mormons on a mission to connect with the Mexican population in South East Texas afterwards. What better way to learn the true Mexican culture then in the heartland of Latin America I thought. As a result, they’d be able to better connect with the Mexican people in the United States.
In comparison, my purpose of travel was much less purposeful I thought to myself. My motivation to travel in Mexico was self-driven. Seeing her vigor of wanting to do good for others by giving hope and salvation to any person who may be in need was impressive, to say the least.
After 5 months at home during the holiday season in a small charming historic southern town in South Louisiana, I am ready to discover more of this beautiful world. At the moment, its Mexico – a simple flight across the border. First stop is Mexico City – smack center in the Historic district for a very short 3-day stay.
While there, I explore the Templo Mayor Ruins and Museum, Square of the Three Cultures (Plaza de las Tres Culturas), Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) and was fortunate to have been given a private tour through the city center. This tour was the highlight of my visit.
The entire tour took place literally above the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs center of the universe. Walking past the remains of the 16th century built Templo Mayor (only the upper most parts visible), neighboring Spanish colonial buildings built between the 16th-20th centuries), cobble stonesd streets, past a few hawkers and vendors, past tourists from around the world – all under the fierce rays of the Mexican sun; the tour guide passionately shared his knowledge with me…
He educated me about the Aztecs beliefs of duality, its warrior-like nature, this central location which was once an island within Lake Texcoco (which was drained by the Spaniard and is now present-day central Mexico City) and the layout of its center along with its major causeways. The influence of the flourishing Aztec culture that originated in this central location had domineering effects throughout neighboring territories in the country. I won’t go into detail since that can be a blog post in itself. You can do research if this period of Aztec reign is of interest to you.
For better or for worse, the Spaniards arrived and as we know, influenced the course of history… The Aztecs reign was a short-lived experience for the people involved… Now, its the influence of the Spaniards that is prevalent throughout the country. You can see this influence mostly in architecture and the Catholic Religion.
The tour guide literally gave me a ‘blast from the past toward the present’ sort of mental journey that left me laying in the grass of Alameda Central Park afterward. There I lay, pondering former beliefs of these different cultures, daily ways of life, and their motivations that led to the occurrences of this regions’ past….while some remaining evidence is still bound to be discovered through future archeological work – maybe even directly below me!
Check out Ivan, my tour guide at https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/251462His knowledge about characters, buildings, customs, beliefs and other facts about this historic downtown location will mesmerize your mind as you take a journey through the past with him.
All in all, my stay in the historic district was not enough time. There are too many things to see and do. I’ll be planning another trip back soon. For now, I’m venturing deeper into the heartland of Mexico towards yet another place of historic significance. I’ll be staying in the city of Guanajuato which is about a 4.5-hour bus ride northwest of Mexico City. In 1988 it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here are a few photos for your entertainment. Too bad I don’t travel with a photographer since there were many missed photo opportunities…Nonetheless, this is what I managed to capture.