Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cholula, Home of the World's Largest Pyramid!

Our last stop on our tour of the state of Puebla was Cholula, home to the world's largest pyramid.  It is now grown over, with a church on top of it.  At first glance it looks like a normal hill, but if you look closely you will see the stepped edges of the massive Aztec temple.  Very cool.  We parked the car and wandered for awhile...

Colors of Cholula.

After a very long walk up the hill/pyramid, we made it to the church perched atop.  The Spanish put this, and 39 other churches in this small town, supposedly because they were difficult to convert.  On the way up here, we were surrounded by children with bottle rockets.  Every explosion made all of us jump.  That got old pretty fast. 

Even at a church perched atop a pyramid, there is a craperia.

The view of Cholula from the top.

The flags match the sky.  How pretty.

More of Cholula...

Here is the base of the pyramid.  We thought the entrance was right here, but we were mistaken.  It was actually miles away.

So many choices!

Here's our friends' car after driving through the potholes.  Just kidding!  It's not really their car!

Finally!  We have made it to the excavated portion of the pyramid, and look!  There's the church on top too!

Hola senor pre-colombiano!

Here we are in the mysterious echo chamber!  It really should be called the annoying chamber, because once the other tourists realize that this spot makes funny noises, they cannot stop clapping and making all manner of noise.  Fun (?) with science!

The temple was built over itself over and over.  Look at how twisted and mangled it is.

More temple views.

 One last look up the hill, this time with a contextual cactus.

Shortly after leaving this site, the rain came.  And it was serious.  It was probably 6 inches deep, and was blowing manhole covers off the road.  It was pretty wild, but we made it home safe and sound.  Until the next Mexiventure!

Cuexcomate, World's Tiniest Volcano!

So, according to my trusty guidebook, Puebla is home to the world's smallest volcano!  Gwow!  We rolled through yet another questionable part of town, and we found it.  Apparently it is related to the big volcano daddy, Popocatepetl, and is all decked out in tourist glory.

Cuexcomate's stats.

Thar she blows!  Just kidding!  It didn't blow.

Here I am making my way down this perfectly safe, and not at all flimsy stair thing, into the heart of the volcano!

Cheers on being halfway there!  And, here is proof that Eric was on this trip too.  :)

 Our reward for the climb was this crater of boiling sulfur water...according to the alleged "guide".  I might note that it did not, in fact, stink of sulfur, nor was there any steam that would indicate hot water.  Just saying.

The view up from the damp depth of the world's tiniest volcano.

Here we are, bathed in glorious light!

One last look at Cuexcomate before we head off to our next stop, Cholula!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Puebla, Take 3! many quaint....we just couldn't stay away!  This weekend we piled into our friends' car (Eric didn't have to drive us for once!) and we were off to Puebla, this time to spend the night, and enjoy Puebla's neighboring city Cholula.

 A Puebla church!

This is the hotel we stayed it.  It was very pretty, clean and quaint, but dark secrets lurked within.  First, our room had recently been painted, so there was a bit of a fume situation.  Then, we cracked the window and noticed there was zero air transference.  So, then we turned on the "AC" which did nothing...leaving the room 200 degrees and smelly.  Then the final insult was that there was music blaring until 4 am just outside...needless to say, very little sleeping took place.  :)

View up the cute little street.

Mexican Independence Day excitement is in full swing!

So many colors!

A year ago, when Eric and I first visited Puebla, we stumbled through some sketchy parts of town to try and find a special convent where mole sauce was invented...only to discover it was closed up for renovations.  It's been a year, and we thought maybe, just maybe, it would be open again.  We were wrong.  We posed for this picture to commemorate our wrongness, but we are still having fun.

Talavera everywhere!

These people obviously have excellent taste, what with the bright colors and the cactus out front!

More talavera, that is what Puebla is famous for!

This was one of many talavera stores we encountered.  These stores are tiny stumble and you have destroyed thousands of  dollars worth of talavera.  Yikes!!

This is the market where many a wondrous thing are available for sale.  Talavera toilet? Check!  Catrina shadow box of catrinas in all maner of normal everyday life? Check!  Unicorn paperweight?  Check!...and....

 The most best, most awesome, most coolest tin peacock mirror, now proudly displayed on our wall.

Super fancy hotel lobby, completely hiding the horror of our room.

 Super pretty skylight and chandelier.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


We were invited to a welcome brunch, and there was going to be a bunch of other spouses there, so I really had to step up my game as world's best EFM. That's Eligible Family Member for all of our non-department friends, and my official acronym. Anyway, it was mentioned that I could bring cupcakes if we had to bring something, so I whipped up some bacon and egg-cakes! Yup, real bacon and frosting "eggs". Needless to say, they were a hit!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Malinalco, un Pueblo Magico!

After the fun we had ruin hunting last weekend, we decided to commit to a day trip into Estado de Mexico to go see the only Aztec ruins that the Spanish did not either level completely or build a church on top of.  These ruins stand on a cliff high above the small village of Malinalco, about a 2 hour drive (if you don't take a bunch of wrong turns as we did) south west of the DF.  We picked up friend and headed out on our adventure!

The drive was really gorgeous, and took us through many parts of pastoral Mexico.  Looking out on the farms, you could have been in the countryside of any part of the US, until you looked closer.  Instead of random trees growing in the fields, there were giant agave plants.  It was really beautiful.  I wanted to stop for some pictures, but, as it is in Mexico, there are no shoulders on the road.  We would have been run over.

When we arrived in Malinalco, we found it was festival day.  They were celebrating San Salvador, and there were many people in full Aztec costume, feather plumes and all.  Also, many people were running around in masks and other costumes too.  The best quote of the day came from Eric at lunch, "Uh oh, here comes naked a naked suit."  There was live music and a bustling market on the Zocolo, too.  We had no idea this was happening when we set out on this trip, so it was a lucky coincidence that we happened to pick this weekend.

After we parked the car ($25 pesos for all day, not bad!) we set out for the 20 minute hike up to the ruins.  We passed this church at the base of the climb.  Maybe the Spanish didn't want to carry all the building materials all the way up the hill, so they decided this spot was close enough.

Vamos a las ruinas!

 As with any Mexican ruin site, you have to earn your experience.  These stairs went up, up, up for about a 20 minute walk to the top of the cliff, no safety rails included.

The elevation here is 5,900 feet, a little over 2,000 feet lower than Mexico City.  We could definitely feel the difference in the air.  This area has an interesting micro-climate, making it both tropical and temperate at the same time (mind-boggling!).  It was interesting, because there were banana trees sprinkled in with the oyamel trees, and everything was super lush.

We finally made it!  A first glimpse into the ruins.

 Here we have the main ritual complex.  Many a dark thing happened in there...creepy!

The stairs leading up to the platform.  The view was pretty spectacular up there.

View from the platform of the mountains.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  It was absolutely amazing.

More ruins nestled into the cliff.  The acoustics inside that round part were really good.  We had fun running science experiments with sound inside.

Enjoying the beautiful day!

Just inside that door is where the human sacrifices took place.  According to the website this was, "a receptacle for blood offerings to the earth, legitimizing Aztec rule."  I think it was probably terrifying to be an Aztec...

The micro-climate was warm and wet, and there was moss everywhere.  Reminds me of home....

The tail end of the complex.  There were a series of rooms in this part, and we even saw a fancy lizard!  The pic of him didn't really turn out though.

Hello cact-friends!  Both tropical and deserty all at once.  

The village of Malinalco below.  We could hear the chaotic music from the festival the whole time we were up here.  It really added to the ambiance.

Life was pouring out of everything here.  So beautiful.

 After we climbed down from the ruins, we wondered about town for a bit.  Here is the main church on the town's Zocolo.

Molten hot Molcajete de Res for lunch, served with handmade tortillas....mmm, I want to go back :)

A bit of a palate cleanser after lunch...nieve in lime, chocolate and coconut.  Perfect end to a great visit.

View up to the ruins from town.  We climbed all the way up there!

We had a great time exploring this special little place...looking forward to more Mexiventures!