April 09, 2007

Ocotelulco Archaeological Site + Tlaxcala (Tlaxcala), 08.04.07

Map Navigation: This dynamic Trackmap shows the GPS track (red line) and some geo-referenced photos (red dots) of the cycling tour. Wheel up and wheel down your mouse to zoom in or zoom out the map. Click on any point in the map to center it on that point. Or just drag the map with your mouse. To see the photos, hoover the mouse over the red dots. Click on the photo to go to the picture page.

Photoset Map

Photoset Show

GPS Track: GPX (MapSource, et al), or KMZ (Google Earth)

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 250 Km, Total Ascent: 2400 m, Total Descent: 2400 m, Cycling Time: 10:48 hr, Avg. Speed: 23.15 Km/hr, Max Speed: 65.2 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 44 MJ, Cycling Power: 283 W.

Travel Report:

This ride started at 07:30, although I had intended to start it at 05:00. I would later discover that I should had really started it at 05:00 ... the hard way :-(

In this cycling ride I could visit the Ocotelulco Archaeological Site, a place located a couple of km north of the city of Tlaxcala, the capital city of the eastern Tlaxcala state. The interesting part is that the return leg had also to be cycling. Taking into account this detail, the total distance cycled on this Sunday was 250 Km ! Additionally, I had to climb twice to the Llano Grande summit, obtaining with this a mere 2500 m of total ascent :-)

Tlaxcala is located 25 km east of Texmelucan (Puebla). The road between both cities is basically plain. The only region that could be of worry is the climbing of Llano Grande (elev: 3200 m), both from Mexico City (elev: 2240 m) or Texmelucan (elev: 2250 m), both cities located on the western and eastern sides of the Llano Grande summit, itself a pass between the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes.

The road from the center of Mexico city to Ixtapaluca is basically a 35 km long plain ride. The only matter of preocupation are the holes in the pavement :-) After Ixtapaluca (2250 m), fun starts, with a steep 15 km ascent to Colony Avila Camacho at 2900 m, with an average grade of 5 %, and later to the Llano Grande summit at 3200 m, a 6 km ascent with an average grade of also 5 %.

The vistas and scenics from the free highway to Puebla are incredible. Both big volcanoes that surround Mexico City, the Popocateptl and the Iztaccihual are highly visible, and in the cristalline air of the morning they look fabulous. On the other hand, as soon as the road gets more and more elevated, the ladscape of the Mexico City valley becomes more visible, showing an incredible vista of what once was the Anahuac Lake. In fact, what today look like hills in this valley, five centuries ago were only islands, in the enormous Lake of Anahuac.

Additionally, the free highway to Puebla is incredible beautiful, well traced and surrounded by the forest pine trees. You can have a glimpse of the beautiful scenics of this climbing at the photoset. Nowadays, I reckon that I should had always taken this highway on my previous rides to Puebla; but well, everybody had always been a begineer, some day.

As I passed the town of Colonia Avila Camacho, I found a group of cyclists resting in the town. I don't know to where this group was cycling to, but it looked like a numerous group. Maybe they were heading for some kind of pilgrimage.

Climbing upwards I reached the summit (Llano Grande), where I could finally take some photographs of a blue church that I had always seen from the paid highway to Puebla, but was unable to photograph. Now, as I was riding on the free highway, at last I could pass near that lonely blue church, on the top of the summit.

It was time now to cycle downwards. First town: Rio Frio. A little after this town the free highway crosses by above the paid highway, via the Potrero Bridge. A beautiful vista of both highways can be appreciated from this bridge.

On my way down to Texmelucan I passed along the following towns: Sta Rita Tlahuapan, Sn Matias Tlalancaleca, Sn Lucas and a couple on lesser known towns. As soon as I reached Texmelucan, I opted for the highway to Tlaxcala. Not bothering myself with a full visit to the market, I decided to pass along the center and eat something along the road. By miracle, I could find a fruit shop where really tasteful fruit was sold. So, after a delicous breakfast of almost 5 kg of fruit (between bananas, apples and oranges), I could contine my way to Tlaxcala :-)

On the highway to Tlaxcala I somehow missed a junction, so I had to make a small turn around the town of Ixtlahuixtla. After reincorporating myself with the right road, I proceeded directly to Tlaxcala.

Once arriving at Tlaxcala, I headed for Ocotelulco, a couple of kilometers north of Tlaxcala. This town is located on a hill. In fact, Ocotelulco was the main pre-hispanic city in this region. I mean, Ocotelulco was once the pre-hispanic city that later, at the spanish conquest, would become the city of Tlaxcala. As was a custom in pre-hispanic times, the cities were located atop of the hills, in order to be able to have to have a early warning of any enemy incursion, and also to be able to better defend an elevated position. Building cities in the plains, and not on the top of the hills was made a custom only since colonial times.

At my arrival at Ocotelulco, I headed immediately to the archaeological site, just to discover that it was closed and with no visible adverstising ! Just by asking the locals I could arrive at the site, located aside from the church. I was told by the locals to knock in the door of the so-called site. I did as instructed and surprise ! A guardian came out of the blue and allowed me to enter !

He told me that as the archaeological site is currently still not offitially opened, there are no visible advertisment out of the site (not even a single label), but that the entry is allowed for the ocassional visitors, whatever that means. Well, at least I was inside the site (after 125 km of cycling).

Once inside the site, the guide proceeded to give me a fully detailed account of the main findings of the site. The first thing I saw was the paintings (little murals) located in a small pyramid, housed in an adobe building (for the paintings preservation). The paitings depict mainly Tezcatlipoca (nahua death god) and Cacamaxtli (native talxcaltecan god). Curiously, when I asked for permission to take some photographs of those paintings, I was denied the required authorization, because, as the guide told me: as the site was still not public, the archaeologists were vey zealeous about their precious findings ! I love my surreal Mexico :-)

But the guide offered me a visit to the site museum, where a lot of very interesting findings could be appreciated. Some of the artifacts shown in the museum are: vestiges of more tlaxcaltecan pre-hispanic paintings over adobe, remains of gods sculptures, several poly-chromated ceramic vases, and ritual sacrifitial offering items: like bezotes (lips piercing items), orejeras (same for the ears) and other adornments. In the exposition can also be seen several ritual and common-usage plates, painted with representation of the Tezcatlipoca god, along with several amate-paper paintings, also depicting the mentioned god. I would recommend you having a look at the precious riches of this site museum at the following photoset.

A special mention require the stone statues, representation of the flower wars prisioners. They are depicted as figures with a solar disc in his breast (taken with both hands), and curiously, beheaded in the sculpture, a reminder of the sad destiny that awaited those prisoners.

Once the guided visit at the museum concluded, I took some photographs of the surrounding pre-hispanic builduings and of the exterior of the site musem. After that, my visit to the archaeological site concluded. I should thank profoundly the guide of the museum for having given me a fully detailed explanation of the museum riches. After that I paid a quick visit to the adjacent Ocotelulco church.

I headed then towards the center of Tlaxcala, a couple of kilometers distant. The city of Tlaxcala is indeed a beautiful colonial city, even its buildings colors harmonize between them. The impressive Govenrment Palace, which is located in a full block is a jewel to eye. Its central park or alameda also captures the imagination. The portales house the finests restaurants in the city. And its beautiful and colossal Cathedral is a sample of the good taste of its inhabitants.

After my visit to the city of Tlaxcala, I started the return leg of my journey, a 125 km long ride, with a second ascention to the Llano Grande summit. The problem is that it was already too late, almost 16:00 when I left the city of Tlaxcala ! In an hour or so I arrived back at Texmelucan, leaving it behind at 17:20, taking the free highway to Mexico to make the ascent. The climbing to Sta Rita Tlahuapan probed to be an exhausting one, so I stopped there for buying some food (in a shop full of high spirited fellas), restarting the ascent to Llano Grande after a short break at 18:40, arriving finally at the summit at 20:15.

As you could imagine, it was already dark (20:15) when I had to decide how to descend to Mexico City from Llano Grande: a 1000 m steep descent. As I had once descended also under the cover of the night by the paid highway, I decided to switch highways in Llano Grande and leave the free highway, as a nocturnal no-lights 1000 m descend by the free highway paramounted to suicide.

With a lot of cold and extremely tired I started to cycle down. I couldn't feel my hands, my wrists were aching like cut by a knife, and I could barely see a thing. Above all, I had to undertook a descent speed of 50 - 60 km/hr in full darkness. It was hell (or insanity), but it had to be done. I was cursing myself for not waking up earlier. I promised not to do this once again, but time will tell ... And the cherry on the pie: the last kilometer before the descent finishes was under repairing, so the asphalt was severily damaged. I thanked God my bycicle has frontal suspension.

At my arrival at the Huixtoco toll station, after that half an hour hellish nocturnal descent, I stopped for warming. My full body was shaking. I don't know if it was due to the extreme cold I was feeling, or by the fear I felt on that nocturnal descent. I could barely walk for some minutes, so I prefer just to sit down and eat the last apple I had. That helped to recover my warm. Once I could again walk, I mounted on my bike and headed towards Mexico City.

I took the first deviation after the toll station to Ixtapaluca, as it was safer to cycle inside the city, than the highway, now in the darkness. I cycled my way back to home in a slow 35 km long plain ride, since it was already full night, I had no lights and I could barely see a thing at all on the pavement.

Once at home, arriving with no problems at all, I thanked all the Olymp gods for allowing me to return home in one piece, and promised myself next time to wake up earlier. Only time will tell if that comes true :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.


Owen said...

Great ride, good luck to you

Anonymous said...

Mi chavo, realmente estás loco al rodar sin luces, realmente Dios te quiere mucho. Me da gusto que no te haya pasado nada. Suerte!

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody :) Hi cycle dude. I hope you are safe and sound and calm like the discs of Saturn. I hope you make it to your goal and beyond, and I'll be hear still not reading a thing, but watching you on the map as you slowly glide along fresh oxygen paths. I wonder why you cycle. and why you decided to do this. Maybe mant other people cycle like you do.

Anyways, I see you on the map there and I want you to draw a line across the stars lol I think it is lively. Actual moving life. I have a bike too. The sprocket skips when I'm going up hill. I think a bearing ball is dislodged. Every where I go I have to cruise at a constant pace.

I'll be watchin' !!

peace Out.