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The Monolith of Tlaloc, National Anthropology Museum

Our first morning in Mexico City found us enjoying the murals at the airport, bold, colorful and full of life. After a quick immigration process and a cup of steaming coffee at the airport, we headed to the private taxi counter to book one. Immediately after, we were led to a waiting taxi and whisked away.

Although we had traveled before in Argentina and Peru, we realized the Spanish in Mexico was rapidly spoken, so much so, we had to strain our ears to catch a few words. Luckily, Missy JJ remembered some from her Spanish classes and was often able to interpret reasonably well.

The taxi driver seemed to be in a hurry, and dropped us close to our Airbnb apartment and was off before we could figure out we weren’t quite where we needed to be. Luckily, T-Mobile and Google maps came to our rescue and soon we were retracing our steps to the main road where the entrance to the Airbnb apartment lay.

There was a security guard at the entrance who told us the apartment wasn’t ready and to return after 3 pm. We left our luggage, took our backpacks and set off.

Our first job was to find nourishment. We had seen a sushi place but they did not offer a vegetarian menu. We walked on to find Pan Comida, a small restaurant with only vegetarian options. (It has a bigger branch in Polanco, the one we visited was in Roma Norte on Tonala). I liked the quaintness of the restaurant, housed as it was in a small area. There were about 12 tables in all, most inside and a few on the sidewalk. Two of them were doors converted into tables! What a creative way to re-use a door!!

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Doors for tables, anyone?! Creativity abounds at Pan Comida

We were all a bit hesitant to try the aguas frescas at first, but judging by the general ambience of the place and driven by our thirst, we plunged in! The enchiladas and the chilaquiles we tried were filling but I can’t say they tasted amazingly good!

Appetite sated, we set out to explore the National Anthropology Museum and Chapultepec Park. Our first instinct was to try the Metro but the station was a good ten minutes away. Given how often we had read about the ease of using Uber in Mexico City, we chose that instead. And indeed, it was true. Except for a couple of times, we used Uber for all our trips and had no trouble getting anywhere.

As we drove past Chapultepec park, it became instantly clear that we would not have the time to explore as it spans such a large area. Instead, we headed towards the Anthropology museum. It being a Sunday, there was a large crowd of locals as the museum is free to residents on that day.

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Courtyard of the National Anthropology Museum

We were met at the entrance by a guide. He offered to give us an hour’s tour of the Maya and the Mexica rooms. We could have taken the audio tour but this seemed a better option. He led us first to the cloakroom where we deposited all our luggage then walked to the ticket booth. Children under 13 are free and we didn’t have to pay for Sonny JJ. The booths were relatively free and we soon walked into the large courtyard around which the exhibit halls are built. This area boasts a large inverted pyramid from which stems a column made of basalt acting as a waterfall. I am sure in summer, this place would be very attractive to all visitors.

The Museum was opened in 1964 and is the largest one in the country. It houses anthropological and archeological artifacts from the Pre-Columbian era. While we had enough time to visit both the Mayan and Mexica rooms before altitude issues and  tiredness set in, one could easily spend a half day here, exploring.  One issue that I had with the displays was that very little information was posted in any language other than Spanish. Perhaps using the audio tour might have solved that issue, I am not certain, but it was disappointing given the importance and stature of the museum.

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Everyday objects shaped as animals, Maya Room at National Anthropology Museum

In the Maya exhibit, we were wowed by the household utensils, ancient codices, pre-Columbian writing, jewelry and ancient tombs, murals that spoke of the creation of this world, trade routes, and the splendor of ancient palaces.  The Mexica room was more crowded. The spectacular Sun Stone of the Aztecs, the sacrificial altars, stone carvings of Aztec deities, thrones of Aztec kings, Montezuma’s headdress, all held us enthralled for the better part of an hour.

Our guide gave us a lot of good information, but it a bit too much to take in within an hour. Especially if one isn’t already familiar with the tongue twisting names of all the gods and goddesses. Still, for all comers, young and old, this museum has something to offer. There were several other rooms worth visiting but Missy JJ was feeling too dizzy and light-headed, probably from the altitude. So we spent another half hour on our own and then headed back to the apartment.

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The (timeless) hierarchy, from monarch to peasants, Maya Room

Here are some photos from our album of this lovely museum. If you are visiting Mexico City, do spend some time here. 

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Jewelry of the Maya Room
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Pre-Columbian writings, Maya Room
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Ancient Codex that has survived, Maya Room
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Splendor of palaces, Maya Room
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Jade death mask of king Kinich Janaab Pacal, Maya Room
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Astounding Sun Stone, Mexica Room
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Carvings on the sacrificial altar, Mexica Room
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Throne of Montezuma II, Mexica Room
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Xiucoatl, the fire serpent weapon of the Sun god, Mexica Room
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Mother of the Gods, Coatlicue, Mexica Room
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Courtyard waterfalls, National Anthropology Museum