About eight hours later Angela saw the streets of Mexico City through her sleepy eyes. Though the plush blue seats of the first class interstate mexican bus folded almost all the way back into a relatively horizontal position, and despite the fact that the bus was relatively empty, allowing her to sprawl across the seats in all manner of ways without anyone even noticing, she could not get comfortable. The bus was speeding south much farther into Mexico than she had ever been, and farther and farther away from everything that she knew. Nothing she was doing made much sense. A trip to Mexico by herself, without any predetermined route or plan of any kind, to cities she knew nothing about and places where she didn't know a soul and no one knew her either. At the last minute she had found a couple of old Triple A guidebooks at the Halved Price bookstore, but the information about anything that wasn't over fifty years old seemed sketchy at best.
But she could not deny the fact that somehow it felt right for her to come here, Mexico City. In the Monterrey bus station it had looked like the name of the city positively glowed on the wall in the list of destinations, while the other cities faded away into non-entities. Fernando had only talked about the city for a few minutes (he referred to it simply as Mexico, as if the city and the country were one and the same), but it was obvious that he had felt it was a special, almost holy place, the heart of his country and his people and a great source of pride, the largest city in the world, a city edged by enormous amounts of poverty where everyone still manages to survive, happy and generous and thankful for what they have, no matter how little.
The bus pulled into the Mexico City North station, but it was still dark outside, not yet quite dawn. Even so, the station was crowded with departers and arrivees as if five o'clock in the morning was rush hour in this place. Angela decided to stow her bags in one of the available lockers so that she could relax a little and explore the area unencumbered. In the middle of the station was a raised glass case where a statue of the Virgin Mary could survey the comers and goers. All around the pedestal upon which she stood were bouquets of flowers and flickering candles. As Angela stood and looked at the sight seeming so out of place with the hustle of passengers in and out of heavy machinery, others around the glass case stopped also, forming a group who seemed to be waiting there for no apparent reason, perhaps waiting for the Lady to perform some kind of daily five o'clock miracle for those in attendance. After a few minutes the group seemed to collectively realize that there was to be no such miracle that day, and it's members drifted back into the ebb and flow of human traffic through the station.
Angela walked past the pay toilets and taxi request booths over to where little magazine stands stood, each little booth covered from top to bottom with small cheap-looking magazines that all looked the same, even though every single one was different. Several people passed by and bought the day's newspaper, but no one was clamoring to buy the generic magazines; were they there just for show? Were the magazines just a cheap way to decorate the news stand in such a manner as to let people know that there was in fact reading material available, but woe to the person who requests that yellow-green issue of El Guapo number ninety-three from 1982 that is pinned up near the top of the booth because if the vendor was actually able to find something to stand on in order to make the sale, well, then there would be a patch of wood showing, and it is likely that people would favor the other news sellers after that because what kind of magazine man is unable to keep every inch of his stand covered with magazines?
She continued on in her trek around the station and as she passed the ticket counters of the various Mexican bus companies she noticed a sign stating in english and spanish that busses to the Teotihuacan pyramids were available from seven a.m. to three p.m. for only twenty-seven pesos each way (about three dollars). It seemed almost too easy. Pyramids? All the way here she had imagined herself becoming lost in some giant, sprawling city filled with looming skyscrapers and traffic jams. She had heard people talk of the pyramids of Mexico, but she had no idea that they would be this easy to get to, with a handy bilingual informational sign pointing the way.
All she had to do was make it to seven a.m. and she would be on her way. In her childhood she had been entranced by stories of the great pyramids of Egypt and the treasures of the mighty pharaohs, and even though she was certain that the pyramids of Mexico city were probably less impressive to an extent in comparison, the idea of ancient people laboring to build something truly monumental that would stand the test of time stirred her imagination. She found an empty seat near the sign, curled up into a ball of exhaustion and fell straightaway to sleep.
Somewhere around 6:17 in the morning Angela dreamed that she was in the desert and had just come upon a beautiful golden pyramid, many hundreds of feet high. Though its sides were perfectly smooth, somehow it was still not too steep or slippery to climb, so she decided to try. After a while she reached the top and there, hovering just above the highest point was a boy holding a magnificent conch shell high above his head. The sea shell seemed to be growing larger, and as it grew to a size even bigger than the boy it opened up and a thousand red roses spilled out.
Chapter 27 was first written November 28, 2001
It was last edited December 30, 2001