January 07, 2008

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Site (Mexico). 06.01.08

The ride started at 07:30, counting as a guest to our new friend: Gabriela Escudero, a determined and beautiful young cyclist that had never before attempted the one thousand meter high climbing to the Las Cruces summit (along the free Toluca highway), located in the middle of the path to the Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Site. I must aknowledge that she was able to finish that ascent with no problems at all, and also: making no stops whatsoever :-) My most sincere congratulations to her !

We started cycling along interior city streets (where we could see several fellow cyclists riding to reach their starting points, as it is customary that on Sundays several cycling rides are published) from the center of the city in order to gain access to Constituyentes Avenue, which would later took us to the free Toluca Highway. As it was early, there was no traffic at all, so we could reach really soon the junction between Constituyentes and Reforma (i.e. Palo Alto), beginning of the federal highway.

After only two hours of cycling, we were able to reach the top of Las Cruces summit (elev: 3200 m), so practically, the ride was already done :-) After a small stop at the top to take the required photos, the descent to La Marquesa and Lerma was initiated. Gabriela, being it her first time, carried out that descent in the most secure way: very carefully :-) Once in Lerma we made a stop to pay tribute to the gigantic equestrian statue of Gral. Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican southern Revolution hero.

After arriving at Toluca, it was really easy to get into Calixtlahuaca, less than ten kilometers away from the state capital, cycling along Isidro Fabela (Toluca-Atlacomulco highway). The only problem was that I had somehow forgotten the junction where I had to deviate to Calixtlahuaca (being a year and a half that I had visited that archaeological site). So, asking the locals for help (and with the aid of Gabriela) we could find another road to the town. This second road (different to the one that I had previoulsy taken) is in a better condition and measures only three kilometer.

The road I had previously taken was Río Papaloapan. But this time we took Libertad street. Libertad is far shorter (only three km) than Rio Papaloapan, and it is in better road conditions. The only problem is gaining acces to it from Isidro Fabela. Libertad is located where there are two gas stations along the Atlacomulco highway, aproximately 6 km after the center of Toluca (and cycling along I. Fabela).

Once arriving at the Calixtlahuaca (nahuatl for Houses in the Plain) Archaeological Site, we secured the bicycles at the site Museum (which unfortunately is closed as the exhibitions are being shown in another museum). Proceeding to see the several pre-hispanic buildings that were built in that ceremonial site, we took our way to the first pyramid: the Ehécatl (Wind God) Pyramid, a spyral piramid whose interior can be visited.

Calixtlahuaca was the capital city of the Matlatzinca culture. The Matlatzinca were an independent Nahuatl nation. They resisted several times the mexica conquest, rebelling at least in three ocasions against the aztec conquerors. At the last rebellion (in 1510), the Mexica emperor Moctezuma ordered the destruction of the whole region, forcing its inhabitants to migrate towards what is now the neighbouring state of Michoacan.

The sites features several impossing buildings, aside of the Ehécatl Pyramid. Walking above the Tenismo hill, the Tlaloc compound can be found. This compound houses the Tlaloc pyramid, a Royal Palace basement (believed to be a Calmecac: the náhuatl elite school) and a Tzompantli (nahuatl for Wall of Skulls).

Once concluded the visit to the archaeological site, we proceeded to visit the center of Calixtlahuaca, where a beautiful church can be appreciated). That church was closed on that Sunday because ... the religious paintings had been stolen ! Could you believe that ? No wonder why the saying goes: Little town, big inferno

We rode the last ten kilometers of the ride in order to reach Toluca, where we could appreciate its main buildings in the downtown: the Cathedral (whose interior is exceptionally beatifully decorated), the Palace of Government, Main Square, etc. Once concluded the visit to the Cathedral, we were lucky enough to find a good restaurant in the Portales, where our human appetites could be saciated. Once finishing the meal, we proceeded to cycle to the Toluca bus station, where we could finally took our bus back home (fare: 38 pesos).

All the pictures of this travel are available at the following photoset. And the GPS track is also available, in both formats: GPX or KMZ .

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !


Niro said...

The pic on the top seems so much like a ancient "stupa" in sri lanka.. Wow.. awesome.. nice blog,nice to see you in blogger group too.. Hmmm if you have time give me your comments too visiting mine http://www.slblogs.org

Erasmo Perez said...

Hi Niro:

Thank you very much for your nice comments :-)

Certainly, the resemblances between a stupa and this rounded Ehécatl pyramid are striking, although they are really distant, both temporal and geographical wise.

Nice blog of yours, too :-)

Regards, and thank you for the visit.