Nikki, part of our Product team, had an unbelievable time in Mexico recently including a “pinch-yourself” experience seeing Mesoamerican temples from a birds eye view…
There are few things that would usually tempt me out of bed at 5am, but the prospect of a hot-air balloon flight whilst watching the sun emerge from behind the pyramids of Teotihuacán was enough to have me raring to go (that and a strong coffee). After leaving Mexico City we arrived at the balloon departure site at 6am, which can be found about 50km northeast of the center, a hazy mist still hanging in the air with the sun just peeking through and painting the sky with the palest of oranges, creating a perfect ethereal setting.
The roaring flames and brightly colored balloons lined up ahead of us were enough to provoke the butterflies in my stomach, a reminder that we were about to experience something truly special and I have to admit that I was slightly nervous. The idea of being suspended in the air by a large balloon in a basket with eight others seemed a little precarious, but as soon as we lifted off it was evidently going to be a much smoother ride than expected and we were able to relax and, of course, enjoy!
Everything felt safe and easy, the pace slow and the take-off gentle, gradually rising up into the air and gliding effortlessly over the acres of green which surround the archaeological site. Go Pros attached to the sides of the balloon meant that we had a constant stream of photographs being taken, leaving us to simply soak in the views and excitedly chat amongst ourselves. The wind direction was not in our favour so we had to keep rising and falling to try to find thermals that were blowing the right way towards Teotihuacan, a constant battle. Unfortunately we never made it particularly close to the ruins but somehow it didn’t matter – the views of the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon were still truly breathtaking and the experience only fuelled our anticipation for the walking tour later that morning.
After about 45 minutes gazing out over our spectacular surroundings we began the gentle descent, bracing ourselves for landing in one of the fields nearby (surprisingly also a lot calmer than expected!). Our bus was waiting close-by after following us at ground level, lining things up perfectly for a smooth transition from air to earth, after which we were shortly on our way to a nearby posada for a celebratory glass of champagne, delicious Mexican canapes and a very welcome breakfast.
The cool morning air soon began to heat up as the sun beat down and we began our tour of the ruins on foot, accompanied by an archaeologist guide who has been excavating at Teotihuacán for years with no plans to stop any time soon. Creating tunnels under the site, the team are still busy digging, using robots to get to hard-to-reach places and are making new discoveries on a weekly basis. We crossed the tape boundaries into areas closed off to the general public as the team showed us their recent findings and their excitement was infectious, leaving us desperate to find out more and feeling honoured to have the opportunity to get first-hand access to such privileged information.
Our final stop was the striking Pyramid of the Sun with its seemingly never-ending staircase which took about 15 minutes to scale. The views from the pyramid itself were a little hazy due to mist but nevertheless provided a fantastic bird’s eye view of the site and its sheer size – the perfect way to end on a high! Although a little eroded in places and incredibly steep, the climb does not require a significant level of fitness, just comfortable shoes and a dose of determination.
To walk across the ball courts, climb the weather-beaten steps of the Pyramid of the Sun and admire the detailed pre-Colombian architecture of Teotihuacán was a humbling experience in itself, but to experience a balloon flight over these expansive and remarkable ruins was one of those arm-pinching moments in life; unforgettable yet hard to believe it wasn’t a dream.