November 19 – 22
Ascending from the Metro station at Insurgentes, we walked back towards the hotel on the bustling Calle Genova, crowds of folks just off work sitting at the outdoor patios of the bars lining the street, enjoying the end of the day. We decided to stop in at Aventura as we’d noticed they had some cocktail specials and we were eager to get our first taste of Mezcal.
We ordered one apiece of the specials of the day, one a pepino (cucumber) and the other a pina (pineapple) and it was one of those moments when your life changes and you realize that Mezcal will be something you tipple for a long, long time. As we sat there enjoying that well deserved drink, we discussed our impressions of the pyramid complex we’d seen that day and how it compared to those we witnessed in Egypt.
The first noticeable difference would be the era in which they were produced, the Egyptian versions over the course of a hundred years or so around 2550 BC. In Mexico, they don’t come into being for almost 2,000 years and are built over a longer timeframe.
The second difference would be usage, the three pyramids at Giza were designed as monumental tombs for pharaohs of Egypt, to house their bodies after death and to help them achieve eternal life in the afterworld. In Mexico, the pyramids functioned as temples, whether or not they were also tombs of high-ranking officials and were often part of large complexes that included palaces, ball courts, plazas, and courtyards.
Finally, the Pyramids at Giza were covered with a smooth layer of bright white limestone blocks that would have gleamed and glittered in the sunlight. Those of Mexico are step pyramids; the sides are not smooth but instead rise up in stages, like giant stairs. Often there are one or more actual staircases built on top of the steps, leading to a temple or sanctuary at the top.
It’s an easy to assume that pyramid building societies would be similar and yet in this case nothing could be farther from the truth, Egyptian dynasties far outlasting those of Mexico, and yet the pyramids themselves having such divergent purposes. I guess it’s why I love to travel; how it opens up parallels trains of thoughts and sometimes, when you are lucky, provides answers ones seeks.
We finished our drinks and made our way back to the hotel and then later ventured out for dinner. We walked around the neighborhood not being able to make up our minds about where to stop, eventually circling back to the corner of Rio Lerma and Rio Sena one block from the hotel to Balboa Lerma, busy that night with a crowd of younger patrons.
We were seated inside and promptly ordered a couple of martinis’, one a house version and the other an expresso (Ketel One Vodka, LIcor 43, Kahlua and Expresso). Both were quite good. For some reason, perhaps the busy days we’d just experienced, I wasn’t particularly hungry, although I should have been and thus, not much on the menu appealed to me.
We settled on an order of three Empanadas, one ham and cheese, one beef and the last elote, a tribute to that famous Mexican street food, corn on the cob. They were all quite tasty, the good news not so filling as to leave us with room for dessert. We ordered a Tarta de Manzana, an apple pie like creation, served in a small cast iron skillet, with tart apples and a thick crust to complement the spoon of vanilla ice cream you ate each bite with. All in all, It was more than enough food to satisfy our hunger and we walked away having paid just 535 pesos including tip ($28), not bad for two martinis, appetizers and dessert.
We were up early the next morning to prepare for our bus ride to Oaxaca, needing to get to the terminal by about 11am. We elected to have a final breakfast at the hotel and were glad we did, the choice of offerings and the amount of food one gets for just six dollars a solid way to begin the day.
As usual you start with coffee, tea or chocolate and a basket of rolls. Then a plate of ripe fruit lightly dusted with sugar prepares you for which ever entrée you’ve ordered. In my case it was the Spanish Omelet and for Joanna a plate of satisfying Chilaquiles.
Having already packed and with time to spare we were able to dawdle over the meal, discussing what we thought the journey would entail, planning to pick up some food to take with us for eating on the bus, and just generally reminiscing about our time so far in Mexico City.
It had been a great start to our two weeks, full of friendly and helpful people and good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Having heard much about Oaxaca, we were eager to get there and compare it to the bigger city we were leaving. And what a time we would have.
Balboa Lerma: https://balboapizzeria.mx/