After spending 6 nights with Stefan & Thomas we parted ways, they were heading northeast, we were going a southeast then direct east toward the coast on the Gulf of Mexico. First stop was San Pedro Cholula, the reason for coming here was to visit the largest pyramid in the world, not only that, it has church on top. The pyramid itself is still covered with vegetation from years gone by.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “made-by-hand mountain”), is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World, as well as the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today. The pyramid stands 55 metres (180 ft) above the surrounding plain, and in its final form it measured 450 by 450 metres (1,480 by 1,480 ft). The pyramid is a temple that traditionally has been viewed as having been dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. The architectural style of the building was linked closely to that of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, although influence from the Gulf Coast also is evident, especially from El Tajín. (Wikipedia)
First though we called in to see a small pre-Hispanic temple.
There are lots of ruins around the pyramid of varying sorts.
You are not allowed to take photos inside the church but I managed a couple.
From here we thought we would be able to make to Veracruz by late afternoon. That was until we were stopped in Puebla by a local policeman for making an illegal turn. We had two phones running different navigation apps plus the Garmin GPS all telling us to turn at this location. Well this luverly policeman tried to tell us the fine was 12,000 Mexican Pasos and we should follow him to the bank so we could pay him. NOT!!! After telling him it would take us three days to take that amount out of the bank and us insisting, he take us to the police station, he said he would lower the fine to 5,800 MP. Well to cut the tale short, after an hour of back and forth he finally told us to go with no fine.
Back on the road we took the Cuota (Toll road) to make up some time. As we come over the last pass at an elevation around 3000M/9800ft it was very foggy, our speed was reduced to 60kmh/35mph for about 50km/30miles as we dropped down to 100M/325ft above sea level. By this time, it was dark. We have a rule we do not drive in the dark south of the USA boarder. In this case we pressed on to the outskirts of Veracruz, where we spent the night in Soriana parking lot.
Next morning, we did some shopping, restocking groceries etc. before driving the coast road to Anton Lizardo, where we found a campsite in the grounds of Hotel La Isla Bonita.
Mary, the owner was supper friendly and helpful. We stayed there 5 nights. The beach was OK but the water was shallow and great for cooling down in the afternoon. While here one of our truck batteries died, we had to head back into Veracruz to find a Ram dealership who could diagnose the issue. We found Reyes Huerta Playas Del Conchal. The manager Porfirio and his team were wonderful in solving our issue, the issue turned out to be a faulty battery, which we had replace.
The views from our camp spot at La Isla Bonita.
After our time here we decided to head up to Oaxaca City (Pronounced: Wa-Ha-Ka), this is where we were having our replacement inverter/charger sent.
When we left, we did not plan on driving far this day, we made it to Tlacotapan where we stayed at the local Pemex station after reviewing the other options after filling our fresh water tank. This is a nice town located on the Papaloapan River, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998 primarily for its architecture and colonial-era layout.
The birds in the trees located in the town square were just going crazy while we were there.
There was also a nice sunset over the river.
Next morning, we set off for Oaxaca City at around 8:30am, stopping for breakfast on the way, not knowing if we would make it in one day or not. This was only 322km/200miles and in Canada would only take 3hours, well after driving the first 45km/28miles we figured not a problem. Then the next 220km/137miles took us almost 6 hours as we climbed from almost sea level up to 3000M/9800ft and back down to 1600M/5250ft all at 40kmh/25mph on switch back after switchback. At the top we were in a tropical rain forest, we followed slow moving logging trucks and passed many a land slide where part the road had slipped down the mountain.
We finally arrived around 5:30pm. We stayed in the Bodega parking lot located at the Plaza Bella Oaxaca, this would be our home for the next two nights. Next morning, we ventured to Monte Alban.
Monte Albán is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca (17.043° N, 96.767°W). The site is located on a low mountainous range rising above the plain in the central section of the Valley of Oaxaca where the latter’s northern Etla, eastern Tlacolula, and southern Zimatlán & Ocotlán (or Valle Grande) branches meet. The present-day state capital Oaxaca City is located approximately 9 km (6 mi) east of Monte Albán.
The partially excavated civic-ceremonial center of the Monte Albán site is situated atop an artificially-leveled ridge, which with an elevation of about 1,940 m (6,400 ft) above mean sea level rises some 400 m (1,300 ft) from the valley floor, in an easily defensible location. In addition to the monumental core, the site is characterized by several hundred artificial terraces, and a dozen clusters of mounded architecture covering the entire ridgeline and surrounding flanks. The archaeological ruins on the nearby Atzompa and El Gallo hills to the north are traditionally considered to be an integral part of the ancient city as well.
Besides being one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica, Monte Albán’s importance stems also from its role as the pre-eminent Zapotec socio-political and economic center for close to a thousand years. Founded toward the end of the Middle Formative period at around 500 BC, by the Terminal Formative (ca.100 BC-AD 200) Monte Albán had become the capital of a large-scale expansionist polity that dominated much of the Oaxacan highlands and interacted with other Mesoamerican regional states such as Teotihuacan to the north (Paddock 1983; Marcus 1983). The city had lost its political pre-eminence by the end of the Late Classic (ca. AD 500-750) and soon thereafter was largely abandoned. Small-scale reoccupation, opportunistic reutilization of earlier structures and tombs, and ritual visitations marked the archaeological history of the site into the Colonial period.
The etymology of the site’s present-day name is unclear, and tentative suggestions regarding its origin range from a presumed corruption of a native Zapotec name to a colonial-era reference to a Spanish soldier by the name Montalbán or to the Alban Hills of Italy. The ancient Zapotec name of the city is not known, as abandonment occurred centuries before the writing of the earliest available ethnohistorical sources. (Wikipedia)
We went into the small museum just outside the entrance first to see some of the artifacts that had been discovered here.
Outside the museum there were two models, one was the a model of the mountain in the middle of the valley where Monte Alban was built, the ruins are located on the flat spot on top of the mountain on the left-hand side,
The second model was of the ruins itself.
From here we proceeded to the archeological site.
There was a sundial that was erected around 100BC to 300AD.
After spending the morning at Monte Alban, we caught the local bus into the centre (Centro) of the old town were we sampled some of the local food. Catherine ordered the mystery dish of the day, which turned out to be some kind of soup.
We then went for a walk around the area before catching a taxi back to our home on wheels. But first Stewart wanted to sample spicy crickets (yes you read that right).
Next: To the South Coast