What do you get when you combine 26 oiled; (mostly) muscular, men and 3 midgets all dressed in lycra,  and hundreds of Mexican locals with 8 gringos out for a good time? The craziness that is Lucha Libre!

On Friday night, a group of us from the hostel decided to flag the expensive tour they were offering and head to Arena Mexico by ourselves. Apparently the largest arena specifically built for professional wrestling in the world, Arena Mexico hosts the filmed for TV "CMLL Super Viernes" (Super Friday) and for the bargain price of 75 pesos (£3) we got to spend 3 hours watching grown men and midgets parading around in lycra. 

The unlit streets around the stadium filled with vendors selling cheap tacos and an abundance of wrestling masks give the place a festive yet grimy atmosphere. Buying tickets through the bulletproof windows of the ticket booth where you can only see the fingers of the person serving you just adds to the occasion. Unable to resist we all fork out for a mask and head into the stadium although a thorough frisking from security gets most of our cameras confiscated. Putting on our masks we were immediately transformed into super awesome luchadores - that is until we looked around and realised the only people in who weren't in the ring wearing the masks were us gringos! ah well - let the show begin!

Flanked by bikini clad models who couldn't keep a beat if they tried and who were real Monet's (those of you who have watched 'Clueless' will know what I mean!) the luchadores all paraded out on to the stage to the beat of random macho nineties rock songs. Hundreds (but not thousands) of excited Mexicans began waving their beers and swearing at their favourite villains  

An eager bartender tried his luck overcharging us for our beers only for his attempts to be thwarted by our spanish speaking amiga. Boom! That's right buddy - we're onto you!
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tough luchadores!
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Watch out front row that midget's heading your way!
Deciphering what's going on, beyond the obvious tousling, is a little tricky but basically the 'rudos' are the big, burly baddies who usually cheat their way to beating the 'technicos', the lets say, less brawny, but more tactical fighters. Even though we didnt understand it was easy enough to join in with the cheering, booing and chanting which is an integral part of any match. 

The enormous wrestlers began flinging each other around the ring in a carefully arranged set of choreographed  moves. While there were some very impressive aerial acrobatics we quickly grew weary of the repetitiveness, that is until 2 wrestlers strode onto the stage with their mini-me's and began tossing them at each other, and into the front row of the audience. Reminiscent of the temper tantrum mini-me throw in Austin Powers the respective midgets took to each other with their pounding little fists and the crowd went wild.

With the importance placed on masks in lucha libre, losing your mask to an opponent is seen as the ultimate insult, and apparently results in disqualification of the oppenant who removes it, but there must be more to it than that as when one wrestler de-masked another he seemed to win that round leaving us all confused!

The second to last match involved two beefcakes in spandex who looked well past it, but they definitely saved the best for last as when Rush stepped out on the stage all the females in the crowd went wild. Perfectly toned arms and shoulders, and a pert tukus, well, lets just saw we joined in the appreciation of such a fine specimen. 

By the time the final '3 count' was done, our glasses were empty and we were all more than ready to head out. The short metro ride and walk back to the hostel was filled with bemused locals enjoying the spectacle of masked gringos debriefing the evening that was.
 
 
Flying into Mexico City was daunting. The city is HUGE! And with an estimated population of 30 million people I was a bit nervous about what was in store for us. 

I was pleasantly surprised. The city is very clean and despite the publicised crime rates we felt really safe walking around! One of the perks of having 30 million people is that you have access to a large labour force. I had expected the city to be dirty and grimy but there is an army of street sweepers and we even spotted people mopping the floor of the subway platforms (London could learn a thing or two!). Even when we drove out into the suburbs the streets were free from litter. 

The hostel we booked into was supposed to give us a free airport pick up, but when we called them after customs as we had been told to do, surprise surprise, their taxi was currently unavailable. This wouldn't have been a problem except that we didn't have any mexican peso's on us and the atm machine wouldn't accept our eftpos cards. Fortunately we had a few american dollars left which once converted was just enough for a taxi into town. The hostel did end up refunding most (but not all) of the cost of the taxi for us but it was a bit of a hassle we could have done without. 

Hanging out at the hostel bar that night we made friends with another Kiwi (Kylie), an Aussie (Jonno) and a Pom (Laura) who were heaps of fun. The next day we flagged the expensive hostel tour and went with Kylie and Jonno on the local buses to Teotihuacan, an enormous archaeological site 48km out of the city. The site contains some of the largest pyramid structures from the pre-Colombian Americas and is pretty impressive to visit. 
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At the base of the Pyramid of the Sun
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Climbing the extremely steep stairs
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Made it to the top! Looking down on the Pyramid of the Moon.
Teotihuacan means "where man met the gods" and it began as a new religious center in the Mexican Highland around the first century AD. Excavations have led archaeologists to believe that there was a diverse group of peoples who came from all over Central America to live at the site and at its peak Teotihuacan had over 180,000 inhabitants. Just like when we visited the ancient cities in Turkey, it always amazes me that a city of that size would just cease to exist. That's the same size as Darwin in Australia. A local guide told us that no one is completely certain what caused the population to leave the site, a number of theories abound, but they think it happened over a 100 year period. 

The site covers 83 square kilometers but a mere 2 square kilometers have been uncovered to date. Walking down the "Avenue of the Dead" we reached the "Pyramid of the Sun" (believed to be the largest pyramid of the complex). Archaeologists believe that it used to be called the Pyramid of the Rain God, but that it was changed at some point by one of the inhabiting cultures. Hungover Jonno decided it was time for a siesta under a cactus while the rest of us climbed the extremely steep stairs to the top in the midday sun! The view was amazing, and there was a nice breeze to cool us off. We saw pictures at the museum from what must be the peak of the summer tourist season and I am really glad we aren't here then as you could hardly move for people and they do not allow you to stop and enjoy the view from the top. 
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Ty in front of the Pyramid of the Moon
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Looking back down the Avenue of the Dead
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One of the serpent heads
After this we headed to the end of the Avenue to the Pyramid of the Moon. This pyramid has smaller ones beside it and if you stand at the base of the stairs and clap your hands you get an echo that sounds like an animal noise. Crazy, but very cool! We ran into a local that Kylie knew who told us about a pyramid at the other end of the avenue which has statues of serpents so after a quick taco lunch we went to see it. It is believed that the pyramids all used to be covered in a concrete like substance made from the ash of local trees and water and then painted bright colours. Although most of the decoration has been lost to the elements you can see glimpses of what would have been in one section of the site. It would have been a truly beautiful city in its prime!

Arriving back at the hostel we found that someone had broken into Jonno's locker and stolen his tablet and his cash and another guys cash and cell phone. Fortunately we were lucky and nothing of ours had been taken but it was a bad end to a really good day out!

After organising our bus tickets, we spent the next day exploring the local artisan and food markets and eating lots of freshly made green tacos con queso, cilantro y picante (cheese, coriander and hot sauce) from a lovely old lady on the street corner. While the hygiene might have been questionable theres no doubt the exhaust fumes must have added something to the flavours, but none of us got sick so its all good. They were so tasty!

Next stop: Mexican Wrestling!
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Street food
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Day of the Dead pieces at the artisan market
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Fresh juice for 15 pesos! (75 cents)