We managed to get out of the campsite in San Miguel de Allende without major incident although we did have to hold the traffic up while I reversed down a one way street the wrong way. We then drove high up into the mountains as we were hoping to see the Monarch Butterflies that migrate to certain mountains in Mexico at this time of year. As the campsite was not open we just camped in the car park for the night.
It was a very peaceful night at 3000m. The next day we hiked up to see the butterflies. Their story is amazing. Every year they migrate from Canada and the US to a few spots in Mexico. The following spring they migrate back. However not every generation migrates. In the summer they only live a few weeks, so only one in about four generations actually does the annual migration. No one quite knows why they do it or how they find their way to the same spot every year. We saw thousands of them but as it was not very sunny they were not that active and mainly hanging in the trees or on the floor.
After hiking down the mountain we drove a short distance off the mountain and were lucky enough to find a campsite which we had not heard about anywhere, Cerro Chino only 30kms away. This site is just outside Aporo on the way to Ocampo. It was a quiet place to stay run by a very friendly family. Alisha and Lucy practiced their Spanish while playing with the owner's daughter Sophia.
The next day we drove around the Arto Norte to avoid Mexico City and to get to a campsite just outside the city in San Juan Teotihuacan. Although the roads are good the other truck drivers often drive like maniacs. The road is very hilly and while the trucks crawl up the hills they then tear down the other side praying that their brakes will work when they reach the bottom. Sometimes they don't and we saw two bad crashes where the trucks brakes had not worked. While driving around the Arco Norte Gilly and I decided it would be crazy to be so near to Mexico City and to not actually go to see it, so when we arrived at our campsite we enquired into how to get into the city.
Early the next morning we set off to the local bus station to catch the bus into Mexico City. Unfortunately the first bus driver reversed into a wall so we all had to get off and get on the next bus 15 minutes later. After that things went smoothly and after catching 2 metros once we got off the bus, we arrived in Zocalo the main square in Mexico City. Unfortunately it was full with a large political demonstration and the side streets were full of riot police.
Everything seemed to be pretty calm though so we continued with our exploration.
First we went to the cathedral.
And then to the Aztec ruin the Temple de Mayor. This was the major temple of the Aztecs but the Spanish destroyed the whole city and rebuilt their colonial city on top. This Temple was only rediscovered in 1978 and they are still excavating parts of it.
On the way out of the temple we paused to watch the Aztec dancers.
Unfortunately due to the demonstration the National Palace was closed which was disappointing as we had wanted to see the murals by Diego Rivera. After a typical Mexican lunch we set out to see if we could find some of his murals elsewhere. Eventually we arrived at the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso. This was a beautiful old Jesuit college with murals by Jose Clemente Orozco.
We were sure there was a Diego Rivera mural there so after searching the place we went to find the gift shop and found a picture of it in a book. Thinking we had missed it we asked the shop assistant where it was and she explained it was in the concert hall but that it was closed. One of the young guides overheard our conversation and told us to follow her, whereupon she led us into the closed concert hall so we could have a private viewing of the mural all to ourselves. This is just one example of how friendly and helpful the people have been to us in Mexico.
After this we wondered down the main street, Madero to catch the metro back to the bus station. Fortunately on the way we passed the Museo Mural Diego Rivera which houses one of his most famous works Suena de una tarde dominical en la alameda central.
It was great to spend a day in Mexico City and the trip in and out and was very easy and cheap (16 dollars return for the 4 of us). We wished we could have spent longer as we would have loved to have seen The National Palace, the Frida Kahlo museum and the Archaeological Museum.
The next morning we were up early again to get to the entrance of Teotihuacan by 8am before all the tour buses arrived and before it became too hot. Teotihuacan is a complex of pyramids which was part of Mexico's biggest ancient city. The city was built between the first and fifth centuries AD and whilst it fell into disuse in the 7th century it was still revered by the Aztecs many centuries later. When we arrived we first climbed the Temple of the Sun.
Later we climbed the Temple of the Moon.
Before walking through the rest of the site and finally the museum. The whole site is very impressive but we were glad we set out early as it was filling up when we left at midday for a well earned rest.
We have been in Mexico 4 weeks now and are really enjoying it. We are starting to learn a lot about its cultures both ancient and more modern as well as enjoying its varied cuisine.
We have also completed more than 21,000kms since we set off back in July.