Adventures in Mexico part VII
13th November 2014
It is a shame I can’t remember the name of this town - I think it began with an X – as it would make avoiding it in future much easier. We woke to find the hotel had no water. Not just no hot water, but no water at all. Which, first thing in the morning, isn’t pleasant.
So we hit the road nice and early. Aim for the day was to find as many different populations of Furcraea parmentieri as we could. We stopped at a decent restaurant and had an excellent breakfast then pushed on. I had sketchily researched a few locations for the Furcraea dotted around the road between Toluca and Mexico City. Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account that this road was extremely busy and we sat in stop-start traffic for ages. Finally we managed to pull off the road for a short while and saw some Furcraea growing in a front garden.
There was a chap sitting outside the wall of this garden with a small fruit and veg stall. I asked him if he knew whether these plants came from the woods nearby and he said they hadn’t – they were from a lot further away. Fair enough, we carried on. Next stop was a place called Ajusco, something of a hot spot for Furcraea, apparently. Or, at least, Parque Nacional Cumbre del Ajusco, which boasts a 3930m peak of Volcan Ajusco. So we put Ajusco into the sat-nav and followed what seemed to be increasingly bizarre directions.
Once we got there we realized that Ajusco is a small area within the Distrito Federal, and that is where the sat-nav took us. Where we wanted to go is actually called San Miguel Ajusco So after a long diversion, sitting in really heavy traffic, we edged our way to San Miguel Ajusco. Where we again sat in a snake of traffic – school pickup time, with buses and coaches making the entire town grind to a halt. In a front garden in town we risked losing our place in the queue and stopped briefly to look at some Furcraea, one in flower.
The problem was that, having been directed to the ‘wrong’ Ajusco we had approached the mountain from the wrong direction and instead of finding immediate access to the mountain road we got stuck in town. Time was getting on so we abandoned the idea of getting to the volcano.
We decided to head for the large-ish town of Tepotzlan so crawled along the periferico then south away from the DF and towards Cuernavaca. On the way we stopped to look at a group of Furcraea.
Then stopped again to marvel at a stupendously beautiful Oreopanax of some sort. A huge plant, maybe 50ft high with immense leaves and reddish brown new growth. Lovely.
We pressed on to Tepotzlan, arriving late afternoon and finding it to be an unfeasibly cute place, nestled at the base of a towering cliff face. Quite touristic with a strong following of ‘new age’ types – shops ranging from quality artisans to tacky nick-nacks. Lots of restaurants, too. Our hotel was terrific – Posada Nican Mo Calli – and I again managed to negotiate a discount from the listed price of 1200 pesos down to 850 pesos per room. Below left is the view from the front door.
The cliff itself is fascinating. One of the major draws for the area is the temple of El Tepozteco perched right at the summit. This is reached by 2.5km of steps ascending 600m. Clearly visible is the vulture that follows me around Mexico, waiting for me to fall off a steep piece of ground. The temple was dedicated to Tepoztecatl, the god of pulque and, in its heyday, attracted pilgrims from as far as Guatemala. Pulque was big in those days!
Had a great meal in town – a nice place to pitch camp for our last couple of nights.