When Angela came down off the Pyramid of the Sun, she started to wander around the rest of the archaeological site, looking at the different ruins and smaller pyramids scattered around the grounds. There was a stone maze near the old Palace of the Jaguar, and on some of the walls which had been blocked off there were the remains of paintings of jaguars. As Angela walked through the rooms of the "palace" she came upon several tour groups, the guides speaking in english, spanish, even french to the different packs of tourists.

Along the edge of the maze were merchant stalls, each one filled with every sort of souvenir one could want from Teotihuaca or Mexico in general. Little pyramids, sculptures of every size, shape and color, postcards, t-shirts, camera film. The people sitting inside the stalls seems insanely bored, and yet nevertheless they always smiled and greeted Angela and asked her to step in and take a look around.

She started towards the nearby archaeological museum, but in an effort to see everything she dropped by the building next door, which turned out to be the official museum gift shop. Obviously someone with a little taste and a bit of a budget had stocked the store, because everything seemed to be of a considerably higher quality than Angela had been seeing. Then again, she had been looking at the stockpiles of shacks made out of corrugated tin and cardboard, as well as the wares of metro hawkers who only carried baskets of the things they sold through the cars of the metro because they had no store. They had, in fact nothing at all, really. There were probably some nice stores in Mexico, but for some reason Angela had only seen the lowest level, perhaps because it was so omnipresent, the poverty of the country thrust in her face and all of it with handfuls of chiclet gum for sale.

But everything in this store was nice, quite desirable really. There were handmade notebooks imprinted with indian designs such as flowers growing out of skulls, et cetera. There were also the katarina: beautiful, delicate skeletal Day of the Dead figures dressed up as if they were wealthy women of days gone by. Unfortunately the most beautiful of these was damaged, and Angela knew that she would have had no choice but to buy it if it had been whole. But one of the little skeletal arms had broken off at the elbow and was nowhere in sight. Somehow, with its fancy gown and elaborate wide-brimmed hat, the skeleton retained most of its beauty and elegance, but it was a shame, nevertheless. Another such skeleton sculpture stood on the counter nearby, but it didn't have a hat and Angela didn't like it nearly as much. The figures were actually quite expensive, relatively speaking, so in a way she was glad the best one was broken, because she really couldn't have afforded it anyway. She had the money -- in the form of a new credit card she had recently received in the mail thanks to the fact that she was a student -- but she really wanted to be careful with how she spent it. It was a lost cause, of course, and Angela knew that as soon as something precious and amazing caught her eye, she would end up buying it, no matter what it cost. She should really stay away from stores altogether, or else leave all her money and her credit card at home.

There were, in fact, many wonderful things in the store, indian animal figures, some cool-looking magazines, but none of the remaining items were as nice as the katarina doll. Angela decided to buy one of the small handmade notebooks, though she didn't really know what she was going to do with it. A wave of despair suddenly flooded over her as the meaninglessness of her situation filled her mind. What did it matter what she did, anyway? Before she knew it, she was swallowed up by a great depression that had been haunting the back of her mind for some time. In her mind's eye she pictured herself as a steadily dwindling tiny spark of light, soon to be lost in the void with no significance whatsoever. Outside the sun-pyramid loomed, ageless and infinite, its size proclaiming its importance -- its very reality -- with a booming voice that no one could ignore.

She went outside and bought an Almond Mega ice cream and looked at the pyramid that filled her field of vision. A steady stream of ant-sized tourists crawled up the side and loitered at the top for a while before joining the queue traveling back down. Lost in thought, she finished the ice cream and chewed on the stick a while before she snapped out of it and decided to go into the archaeological museum, though really she knew her heart wasn't in it.

The museum was rather dark, each room containing several lighted display cases showcasing various indian bones and artifacts that had been discovered in the area. Also scattered about the museum were dioramas displaying what life was like in the past of Teotihuacan. Angela felt herself wishing she could really visit the ancient city, at the height of its glory. Now the place was a desolate husk of a tourist trap, but at one time it was a thriving metropolis, one of the largest in the world. Why had it died? Why did everyone leave? She scanned the plaques that accompanied the displays and cursed her lack of ability to read Spanish.

In the next room, which was quite large, most of the floor was covered with a recreation of the entire complex, as it might have looked many centuries in the past. The room was dimly lit by a wall composed completely of windows, dimly lit because the windows faced out towards the great Pyramid of the Sun, and the museum was in the giant pyramid's shadow...

Chapter 20


Chapter 19 was first written November 24, 2001

It was last edited December 29, 2001