November 8-13: from Queretaro to Oaxaca

I need to preface this post. What is currently happening in Paris makes me sad. The photos that follow are from a different world and mark a contrast that I want to acknowledge and for which–especially on days like these–I am deeply grateful.


IMG_1456On November 8, we–team Uyarak and Harry/Daniel–left Queretaro and stopped for a stroll in Bernal… where Daniel couldn’t resist and bought a snow white sheepskin.

IMG_1460Harry joined us for our tour of the colonial village, with Martin acting as a temporary dog walker.

IMG_1458Harry was fascinated by caged tropical birds and made quite a different face than…

Harry in SMA 3… when I had lifted him up back in San Miguel de Allende for some close-contact cuddles.

DSC_0377We stopped in Teohuacan to visit the Sun and Moon Pyramids. Getting there proved more difficult than anticipated. Martin and Fraenzi had let me take the lead on the toll highway but I failed to realize that their Land Rover Defender‘s maximum speed is lower than la bestia‘s. For half an hour, they tried to overtake me to somehow signal that we had to exit; to no avail. When I spotted them leaving the highway as I had already passed the exit, my heart sank… What followed included a thirty-minute traffic deadlock in Mexico City’s periphery and some extra tolls to get back on the right route. We eventually reunited on a local campground in Teohuacan and “celebrated” with bland salami pizza (though I admit I was tempted for a second).

IMG_7215The next day, we walked about a mile to reach the pyramids.

IMG_1465One of the largest in Mesoamerica, the Pyramid of the Sun was found largely intact by the Aztecs — it had been built centuries prior.

IMG_7222We scaled it…

IMG_1467… being watched by local wildlife.

IMG_1472The Moon Pyramid (seen here from atop the Pyramid of the Sun) was “discovered” much later. A fourth level was accidentally added during its reconstruction based on the assumption that all pyramids from that age had four levels — when in fact this one originally only had three. More generally, we were surprised by the liberal use of concrete to restore these monuments as the line between historic preservation and “theme parking” remains fine.

IMG_7241Amid our concerns about authenticity, there’s no denying that the views from atop are spectacular.

IMG_1475On our way back to the campground we came across a local market and decided to buy some fish–masterfully prepared by this young lad–and ceviche for dinner.

IMG_1477Back “home,” Fraenzi once again excelled in Uyarak‘s makeshift kitchen.

IMG_7452The next day, we drove south toward Popocatepetl volcano, one of Mexico’s icons. At 5,426m it overtowers all European peaks and almost rivals Africa’s Kilimanjaro (5,895m).

IMG_7449Although it took the cars quite some time, we managed to reach the highest point currently accessible to vehicles and had lunch at 3,682m. We had initially planned to stay for the night, but the parking lot wasn’t particularly inviting, and so we changed our minds and continued toward Puebla.

IMG_7454Popocatepetl waved us good-bye by briefly showing its impressive summit.

IMG_7455We spent the night in el Centro Vacacional Metepec IMSS, a humongous recreational facility near Atlixco. The manicured grounds host seven hotels as well as a large water park. As so often, we were the only visitors — and I could not help but assume that the facility had resulted from someone in the construction business teaming up with someone possessing significant leverage over public funds. The absence of people (other than a few administrators and cleaning staff) rendered the place both surreal and oddly upsetting.

DSC_0381Unfortunately the menu I ordered in nearby Atlixco didn’t offer much in terms of consolation: inedible camaron (shrimp) broth and a delicious ceviche taco followed by unpeeled shrimp drowned to death in thick mole, and finished off with a slice of semi-dry cake in vanilla sauce. Oh well, at least the Pacifico beer kept its promise.

P1040729_smallOn September 11 we visited Tehuacan with its beautiful municipal palace…

P1040735_small… and its meticulously restored main church.

IMG_7460Just before night fell, we drove to the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan biosphere reserve, a chain of valleys beaming with cacti.

IMG_7279_v2That’s where Martin took this fantastic photo of la bestia beneath the stars.

IMG_7469All three of us feel that the biosphere reserve ranks among the most stunning campsites we’ve been to thus far.

IMG_7471Harry seemed to agree.

IMG_7473We left early to escape the daytime heat and continued southeast to Oaxaca.

IMG_7478Halfway we came across this truck; one of its front tires had burst, and the driver had somehow managed to stop without causing any spills of whatever flammable substance he was transporting.

IMG_7485We seized the moment to marvel…

IMG_7484… at the dramatic landscape at 2,000m.

IMG_7495One hundred kilometers north of Oaxaca (street scene above) we parted ways. Fraenzi and Martin spent the night on a campground for overlanders which, according to our information, did not allow dogs; Harry and I checked into a posada near Oaxaca’s downtown zocalo (central square).

IMG_7349_smallToday we met up again…

IMG_7491… to visit some of the city’s colonial era churches…

IMG_7492… and let them remind us of religious architectures in Europe.

DSC_0390_smallOf course we also made time to sample churro, a fried dough pastry popular in many countries with Hispanic heritage.

mexico 12Nov15Harry and I plan to stay in Oaxaca for a little longer; Fraenzi and Martin will continue their journey with stops in Yucatan and Quintana Roo.


2 thoughts on “November 8-13: from Queretaro to Oaxaca

  1. Daniel, We are glad to see you have had such a good trip so far. Your pictures are amazing and we are enjoying the trip with you and Harry. Look forward to the next views. Keep safe and God bless as you see all those great people and places. Faith and Dave Dahl

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Faith and Dave! Harry and I are thoroughly enjoying southern Mexico. We’ll probably cross into Guatemala in the next two to three weeks…


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