After Teotihuacan, we returned to Mexico City, first heading to our hotel for lunch. We were nonplussed to find police in full riot gear lined up in front of the entrance... apparently, there was a demonstration in the square across the road. Carlos, our tour director, mentioned that he once saw a protest made up of naked people.
After a tasty lunch, we went to the National Palace to see Diego Rivera's famous murals. Stunning. I had never seen any copies of them before, and had deliberately avoided looking them up. Good idea- they blew me away. Amazing detail and energy, masterful composition, vivid and enthralling. The pictures really can't do them justice.
We couldn't park very close, so we had to forge our way through Saturday crowds around the cathedral and zocalo. It was a little overwhelming- shouting, jostling people, cries of hucksters, a curandero performing healings with herbs and smoke, drums, Aztec dancers, copal incense...
"A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!"
Next, we went to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, which has one of the best Mesoamerican collections in the world. I was feeling a little camera-jaded, so decided not to take pics... bbq_bill took some, though. monsteralice and I could have easily spent all day there- there was a gallery for each of the major Mesoamerican cultures... We did manage to look through the Aztec, Maya, and Teotihuacan galleries... some wonderful stuff there: the "calendar" stone, the sinister Coatlicue statue, Pakal's funerary mask and jewelry and a replica of his tomb, replicas of the Bonampak murals, stelae with beautiful carvings and glyphs, amazingly vivid pottery, replica codexes, jade carvings and jewelry... There was also a life-sized Aztec statue of a man who appeared to be wearing a festive little sombrero on his wingwang. Since all three of us are about twelve, this amused us greatly and there were many "man with the party hat" jokes during the rest of the tour.
The museum itself is rather severe, but they have a beautiful "umbrella" fountain that is meant to represent the Mesoamerican tree of life in the courtyard, and the galleries have appropriate quotes from native sources over their entrances.
After that, it was back to the hotel for dinner and collapse. We were up early the next day for the drive to Veracruz. We had decent weather, which was good, because there were some spectacular views of several volcanoes on the way (I could have stared at Popocatepetl for hours), followed by a dramatic and precipitous descent down mountain valleys from about 10,000 feet to sea level- beautiful, but also a little harrowing... our bus driver was certainly earning his tip. Then we were on the coastal plain, and heading for Veracruz.
Next: Veracruz and the Olmec sculptures in Villahermosa...