Sometimes, or most of the time, our lives are not about horses, pretty towns, great food and beaches. Sometimes we just drive, stop, set up, cook, sleep – pretty normal stuff. We don’t drive very far in between towns anymore. A couple hours is plenty. Anything more means a cranky day for everyone. Even so, any travel day is not easy so we try to at least stop at a place with something to do rather than being stuck in the van all day. From Macheros, the butterfly reserve, to our next big destination of Oaxaca was about 500 miles. Thus began our week long journey driving through central Mexico.
First Stop – Ancient City of Teotihuacán
Teotihuacán is about 30 miles north of Mexico City. Originally I had really wanted to visit Mexico City but after slowing down in Macheros, neither Simon and I were motivated to tackle the biggest city in Mexico with 25 million people. By accident we took a wrong turn and drove into the city limits and were immediately stopped by a cop for the infamous bogus ticket shakedown. We just kept saying “No entiendo. Lo siento.” (I don’t understand. I’m sorry.) and we got out of trouble pretty quickly. This is our second experience with crooked police. The first time was an even more gentle attempt in Baja near Todos Santos. I think we have been very lucky. We hear that some cops can be pretty insistent and can hold up travelers for hours.
Teotihuacán was built almost 2000 years ago. At one time it was the biggest city in the pre-Columbian Americas with over 125,000 inhabitants but around 800 AD the city mysteriously collapsed. Many archeologists believe it was from a massive internal conflict between the rich and the poor. The site is famous for its pyramids, with the Pyramid of the Sun being the third largest in the world. We climbed to the top and had a nice view over the ancient city.
Second Stop – Cholula
Did you know that Cholula, which is a suburb outside Puebla, has the BIGGEST PYRAMID IN THE WORLD? Well it does, but we didn’t get to see it. Simon got his first bout of turista (food poisoning). Almost four months on the road, only Ty has been spared and the rest of us has gotten sick once each. Not too bad. So the kids and I spent some time at the playground and when Simon felt well enough we went to a drive-through safari.
Third Stop – Jardin Botanico Helia Bravo Hollis (named after a Mexican botanist)
After almost 4 months on the road, we are still searching for the balance between being on-the-move and just being. This botanical garden is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for having the most concentration of columnar cacti (among other things). It was supposed to be just an overnight stop, but the following day Simon was still not feeling too well so we decided to stay another night. That second day turned out to be one of the most relaxing days we have had. We were the only ones at the park besides the caretaker so we took over this huge fancy palapa. We hung out, played, cooked, did laundry, and just enjoyed each other’s company.
From here it is only a couple hours to Oaxaca – a city and state with a great travelers’ reputation and the prettiest exotic name. We plan to stay put there for a while.