Bob's Links and Rants

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Would you like to buy some obsidian?

One thing about visiting Mexican tourist spots--you have mucho opportunities to buy souvenirs. It´s not just the shops crowded around the entrance like you´d see at a US tourist attraction. They´ve got those, to be sure. But once you´re inside the attraction, you get offered souvenirs about every 10 meters as you walk. In addition, the people who run the tours seem to be in on it. The first stop on the tour today wasn´t the Pyramid of the Sun, or the Pyramid of the Moon. It was a giftshop outside the Teotihuacan site. Our tourguides introduced us to other ^guides^ who spent 20 minutes trying to sell us anything and everything in the store. Then when we were in the Teotihuacan site (which is incredible, BTW), our guide introduced us to a guy demonstrating how the builders of Teotihuacan used a type of cactus plant to produce paints for coloring the low-relief sculptures and decorations at the site. He demonstrated this on what looked like thick pieces of paper, which he then passed around to us. Surprise! Inside the envelope were pictures of the pyramids and other structures, which he was, of course, selling.

The last stop on our tour was the Basilica de Guadalupe, built on the legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The old basilica was sinking into the lake, so a spectacularly atrocious replacement was built in 1976 and was visited by Pope John Paul II a few times. So, of course, we spent most of our visit there in the gift shop. You´ve probably never seen so much Pope and Virgin crap in your life!

Oh well, it was still a fun trip, and I only succumbed to the souvenir vendors once. I also climbed all the way to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun! Photos someday.

Hasta mañana or whenever! (I was about to go searching for that alt-key code for printing the 'n', and then I remembered that I'm typing on a Mexican keyboard. Sure enough, the 'ñ' key is right there where the semicolon should be!)