December 03, 2005 GMT
Cholula to Veracruz and Back

Cholula a small town some 126km south of Mexico City boasts over 70 churches and the largest pyramid of the ancient world though this is mostly in ruins and has a cathedral built on the top! It still is a remarkable site with over 8km of excavated tunnel.

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Los Remedios, sits on top of the pyramid

Around the base of the pyramid are many excavations of the temples that surrounded it, with exceptional stucco and architecture.

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We stayed 10 days spending our time walking about the town and finding, yet again, another church or cathederal. Some were extrodinarily ornate, the entire interior being carved and painted, others were tiled beautifully and very simple and austere inside.

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Iglesia Sanfrancisco

There is a small free museum, on the zocalo, in Cholula with anthropoligical artifacts and history on the area from pre-hispanic times to Spanish occupation.

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Church in Cholula

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Eating grasshoppers with chile and lime..... delicous

We also took a day trip to Puebla (about 20 minutes away) on the bus. The bus travelled at over 120km/hour, racing down the 'Rapida' road, fully loaded, passengers standing. It was like a rollercoaster and equally as scary!

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Pueblas Zocalo

Puebla is famous for its tiles, ceramics and Basillica. The zocalo was being prepared for Christmas with the planting of hundreds of pointsettias giving a beautiful splash of red colour to the grey flag stoned square.

It is a great place to walk around with a great many buildings, some up to 400 years old (many with thier exteriors still retaining the original tiles.

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Building in Puebla

We also took a day trip to Tlaxcala, where we spent the turn of the century on a previous trip to Mexico. The town had not changed much and is still a very nice place to visit and relax.

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Church in Tlaxcala

We headed to Veracruz grimly deterimed to find the Libre (free) road to the coast and were unsuccessful spending $US15.00 on the journey to Cordoba.

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On the road to Veracruz

Veracruz is a large port city with outstanding old architecture and a vibrant atmosphere. It is loud, dirty, warm and fun. We found a hotel with secure parking for the bike, right near the Malecon and zocalo at $US17.00 per night.

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Building in Veracruz

We stayed for 4 days and then headed for Tajin an ancient city/archeological site.

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The weather turned bad on the morning we left with very strong headwinds and lots of rain all the way up the Esmeralda Coast, however, the 300km trip was worth it with the 2000 year old city being spectacular.

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We stayed in Papantla which again is a very busy, noisy place. Our hotel was very cheap. You could not swing a cat in the room and you were able to hear the amorus goings on of the other hotel patrons, quite clearly! Fortunately the room had a TV with good volume. The hotel manager allowed us to cook on our door step to the amusement of many of the other guests and staff.

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Woman in Papantla

Papantla has an excelent show of the Valadores at the Cathederal on most days and the zocalo hosts tradional dancing and music as well. We were there during a Vanilla festival where the Queen of Vanilla was crowned.

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Flying Valadores in Papantla

We returned to Veracruz for a couple of nights to enjoy the warmth and plan where we were to head next.

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Tiled building - Veracruz

We arrived on the 12th December, the day for the festival of the patron saint of Mexico 'La Virgen Guaudalupe'. The zocalo was jammed packed with people and the childeren were dressed in traditional costume, the little boys had moustaches painted on. They had their photos taken with paintings of the Virgen. A Cuban band played late into the evenings and the crowd was dancing.

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Child in Zocalo

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Colourful building - Veracruz

Next we headed to Xalapa, the Capital of the state of Veracruz, where they have the 2nd largest anthropoligical museum in Mexico.

On the way into Centro we were confronted with some of the worst traffic conditions of our trip and unfortunately a ute reversed and collided with us and we hit the deck. We picked ourselves and Miss Piggy up while the driver sat in his vehicle obviously not to concerned with our plight! Jules went to talk to him as he had hit us and he just yelled at her and drove off.

After clearing ourselves of the traffic we checked ourselves over, no damage, most fortunate. Miss Piggy also was fine although the left hand side pannier which took most of the impact was partly crushed and the frame bent and broken.

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Pannier damage

We commenced some minor repairs to fix the damage enough to continue on to a hotel when Andreas approached us and we explained, in Spanglish, what had happened. As he was a motorcyle rider himself (he rides a Kawasaki 800 Vulcan) he was concerned about fixing the bike and offered us the use of any tools and bolts that we needed as he had a sewing machine shop across the street. He was also very interested in the modifications that Grant had done to the bike like panniers, bash plate, top box etc. We moved the bike over and with Andreas and the guys from his shop helped Grant to bash the box back into shape and re-bolt the pannier back on. Andreas and his wife Patty offered a room in thier home for the evening, which we gratefully accepted.

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Repair team

After a delicous lunch Patty, Carlos (son, 14) and Karin (daughter, 10) drove us into Xalapa so we could have a look around the city. They also took us to Cuatapec, a quaint little village nearby, and we attended the local pastorela, nativity play performed by the children - it involves singing and dancing, and an exhibition of over 700 nativity scenes from all over the world.

On Friday Andreas drove us out for the morning to visit another nearby town and to see the cascades, unfortunately the weather was very foggy and overcast we could not see them at all! We could, however, hear them (better than our Creel waterfall adventure!).

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Naolinco

We left for Perote and Puebla, accompanied by Andreas and Carlos on the Vulcan, in some of the worst fog we have seen, thicker than pea soup (sopa de chicharos). The 40km trip to Perote took over an hour and traffic was heavy.

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We said goodby to our new friends and continued on as the light began to fade. We arrived in Cholula at about 9pm breaking our golden rule of never riding in the dark. We spent a day in Cholula sorting a few things out and organising for Garry and Ivonne to meet us and guide us back to Mexico City on Sunday.

We met Garry and Ivonne at the zocalo, with no parade to greet them, and headed back to Mexico City. The first part of the ride was smooth and easy, but we entered the city through some really ugly traffic (30km's taking 2 hours).

Posted by Grant Guerin at December 03, 2005 06:24 PM GMT
 
 

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