October 23, 2005

Chalma (Mexico), 23.10.05

Photoset Show

GPS Cycling Data: Distance: 102 Km, Ascent: 1661 m, Time: 4:40 hr, Avg. Speed: 20.8 Km/hr, Max. Speed: 61.1 Km/hr.

Travel Report:

This ride started from the western Metro terminal Observatorio. From here I took Minas de Arena and then the road to the paid highway to Toluca. On my way I passed by Santa Fe, a beautiful corporate business quarter in the western sector of Mexico City. You can have a look at the beautiful buildings there at the following photoset.

After Santa Fe stands the junction were the paid and the free highway to Toluca diverge. As this ride belongs to the set related to my humble beginnings as a cyclist, I choosed to ride along the paid highway, since on those days I felt comfortable only if I could ride on the side lane of a paid highway. Nowadays I do prefer the free highways :-)

Along the road there is an enormous bridge that stands over a big ravine, populated nonetheless by people at the bottom of it. The green colors of the grass covering that ravine made the vista an idyllic one.

I do remember now that just a little before I arrived at the summit I had already run out of water. As I was really thirsty, I had to rely on the water that filters across the mountains in order to drink a little of it. Fortunately, this fresh water is pure and crystalline, so it represented no problem for me drinking it as it filtered out of the mountain walls that bordered the paid highway.

After reaching the summit I descended 200 m (altitude wise) arriving at La Marquesa recreation park. In this park a lot of families and tourists decide to spend its Sunday in order to have picnics parties. A little boring for my taste, if you mind :-)

From La Marquesa I took the road to Malinalco, since it was planned to visit the Malinalco Archaeological Site before proceeding to Chalma.

Crossing the mountain that stands before reaching Joquincingo probed to be a considerable test to my then-condition :-) But after this hill, the road probed to be an idyllic one. Just green hills and a descending road. Some photos of this beautiful landscape between Joquincingo and Malinalco can be seen in the photoset. After Joquincingo the road turned itself into one of pure descent all the way to Malinalco.

At my arrival at Malinalco one fact that captured my attention was a black wooden cross, erected in one corner of the atrium church. I don't have the exact time I arrived at Malinalco, but it was too late to visit the archaeological site (it closed at 16:00). I decided then to follow my route, this time to Chalma, some kilometers along the road that had taken me to Malinalco.

At my arrival at Chalma, I decided to immediately go downwards to the Chalma sanctuary, down in the middle of the town. That descent over stairways can only be walked, not rode. As it was again too late to find the shrine open, I had to live with fact that I was only going to be able to take some pictures of my bike, in front of the shrine, but with its doors closed :-(

I hope to be able to re-make soon this route, in order to know the inside of that famous Chalma shrine. In the atrium church I could still find some photographers with its wooden horses for the kids photos.

Roaming a little along the town of Chalma, I could observe that there were several swimming pools and a big river. I hope some day I could submerge in one of them (either the swimming pools or the river), as the heat in this religious sanctuary is barely bearable.

On my way to the bus station of Chalma, I visited the local market, although in fact, the whole town is an enormous market. A lot of religious items are sold, from images to wooden crosses. Being myself an atheist, I declare myself an ignorant about the meaning and purposes of such a variety of religious items.

I boarded the return bus back home, arriving safe and sound at Mexico City a couple of hours later.

PS: In the photoset I have added some very interesting photographs that were taken in Chalma that same day by my wife, but with the advantage that they were taken several hours before (as my wife was not cycling to arrive at Chalma). In this way, the new photos show the Chalma church open, its interiors and most importantly: the arrival of an indigenous religious pilgrimage to the Chalma sanctuary. These photos are also available in the above mentioned photoset.

Thank you for reading. Till the next journey.

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