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Mexico City represents many things to many people. It is colorfully painted by the Spanish language, its record-setting population that continues to grow, and climactic history.


Many assume that Mexico is dominated by the Spanish culture and its Catholic faith, however, travelers with open eyes will find that the Aztecs and their culture did not die after their conquest, but became a sub-layer of the present-day Mexico. The Aztecs lived and built their empire in the middle of a lake at the exact spot they saw an eagle with a snake in its mouth, mandated by prophecy. They were educated and artistic, leading the area in the development of a supreme civilization. Overtaken by the Spanish in 1521, Mexico took on a new character, name and lifestyle. Mexico City is a place of paradoxes amid a beautiful organized chaos.


Chapultepec is the zone where you will find the Museum of Archaeology, where you can get a head start on the indigenous history of Mexico, Central and South America. It is renowned throughout the world and can take a whole day to explore thoroughly.


However, you don’t have to go to a museum to experience indigenous Mexico. For a sight that explains the true nature of Mexico and its past, there is the “Plaza de Tres Culturas,” or “The Plaza of Three Cultures.” A single click of the camera shutter can capture Aztec temple ruins, an incredible Spanish church and modern Mexican office buildings in the same frame. These three cultures are what make Mexico the nation it is today.


Later, explore the zócalo, or town square (also the location of the National Palace and Cathedral in downtown) where Aztec dancers frequently put on free shows, complete with drumming, costumes and other demonstrations.


Heading south will lead you to the remains of an ancient pyramid called Cuicuilco. This pyramid is now covered with grass and is missing much of its top layer, but its current state retains the enchantment of the past with the transcendentalist power of the present. Folks flock to Cuicuilco to walk leisurely or pass time, but others use the site to meditate. They hope to harness the energy and purity of the ancestors here and welcome anyone who wishes to join them.


Continuing south to the Dolores Olmeda Museum in the Coyoacán (hungry coyote) area, one can see original Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo works, as well as the endangered Aztec dog called the xoloescuintle.


The xoloescuintle dog is quite rare. It is nearly bald with a tuft of black hair on its forehead and a thick, leathery skin which is very sensitive to the sun. They were the Aztec’s constant companion, and on some occasions, a meal. These days they are hard to find, but this museum’s garden is home to several of them, as well as some peacocks.


The Aztecs discovered both chocolate and vanilla, however a more unusual food to try would be pozole. It is a tomato-based soup made with hominy and meat. It is delicious and succulent and can be found at virtually any restaurant.


Last but not least, a person cannot say they’ve been to Mexico City without visiting a tianguis, or open market. These markets may be difficult to find as they tend to rotate throughout the city. They represent the merchant class of Aztec society who were at the bottom at the caste system of the time. They may not be wearing Aztec garb, but they are continuing a traditional way of life that the blind eye will not see. Peel back the layers of modernization, and find the world that lies beneath.

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