We’re in southern Mexico! Wohoo! We are sitting in a pleasant hostal in downtown Oaxaca – a city we have been looking forward to visiting since we entered Mexico. In the past week we left the striking pyramids of Teotihuacan and crossed into three new states. We saw the second-largest pyramid in the world in Cholula, got partially lost on some dirt back roads, camped in a soccer field, and climbed back into (yet) another mountain range.
To avoid the traffic in the Mexico City area, we decided to take some back roads on our way to Cholula. I (Jason) mapped out a path using Google, and we decided that two 5-mile sections of dirt roads would be an acceptable adventure. And what an adventure it was!
The day before we left Teotihuacan, I re-mapped the route so I could write down turn-by-turn directions. Little did I know at the time, but I did not have the same route I had so meticulously checked previously! We turned onto a dirt road much sooner than expected, and then bailed as it disintegrated into a steep path up a hill. Ha! (This is what we have come to call a Google Maps Fail.) We saw some power lines to our left, and decided to cross a couple fields in order to get over there. Next to the power lines was a paved(!) road and my spirits lifted. We were back on track. (More or less…)
The pyramid at Cholula is actually more of a pyramid complex that looks like a hill. When the Spanish arrived, they didn’t notice the peculiar dimensions of the hill and proceeded to build a cathedral on the top. This made for a church with a nice view!
The pyramid had been built and rebuilt several times over many years. To visit, you enter a tunnel that passes under and through the hill. The archeologists have cut out several side paths that show different stacked rock formations of the different pyramid stages. In total, there are over 8 km of tunnels! However, us tourists can only access about 800 m. Out back there are several exposed staircases, plazas, and altars. It is quite an impressive sight, although much, much different than Teotihuacan!
On our way out of Cholula, we had planned to skirt around Puebla and back out into the countryside. However, Puebla is the fourth-largest city in Mexico and the traffic combined with roadwork made for a very unpleasant highway experience! Luckily, we were rescued by two local cyclists who gave us directions on a better way to get through the city. We were directed to a very new raised bicycle path that was still being built!
That night we arrived at a small town and decided we weren’t willing to pay the (relatively) expensive price for one of the local hotels. After talking with a few locals, Daisy got permission from the police to camp at the sports field complex. We set up next to the baseball field and were treated to a nice sunset while cooking our dinner.
We were sleeping well, until about 11 PM. That was when 3 police cars showed up! They woke us up to say that we needed to move camp because they didn’t want drunk people to bother us when the town fiesta was over. I asked when that was, and they said 3 AM! We groggily moved camp onto the new turf soccer field which was surrounded by a fence. One police officer stayed in a car outside the gate all night to keep watch. A nice guesture, including the fact that he woke us up at 5 AM to let us know he was leaving to wash the car. Ha!
On the way to Oaxaca we descended and then climbed back up some mountains. There isn’t too much to say about this, other than that it was another beautiful climb. We took the toll road, which had many rock cut-outs and views of untouched valleys. The pictures say much more than words!