The Road to Cuetzalan

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Late yesterday afternoon, Alejandro and I returned to Mexico City after our long weekend in Cuetzalan.  Cuetzalan is a fascinating place, but getting there is quite a grueling experience.

We had planned to leave the apartment at 8:00 Saturday morning, but Guillermina, our cleaning lady, arrived earlier than usual.  We ended up chatting with her did not get on the road until 8:30. That half hour delay was to prove to be a blessing.

We headed out of Mexico City along the highway that passes by the airport.  Traffic was heavy in places, but we managed to make it out of the city without experiencing too much congestion.


Alejandro’s GPS took us along a route through the states of Mexico, Tlaxcala, and Puebla, the same route that we have taken a couple of times previously we have traveled to Jalapa in the state of Veracruz.

But then instead of continuing eastward toward the gulf coast, we turned off onto a toll road that heads north toward the city of Zaragoza. 


The wind started to pick up, and as if blew across the parched fields, created clouds of dust.


Beyond that, we came to a stretch of fog.  Fog is not unusual in this area where the moist air from the gulf coast hits the mountains.  It was also raining lightly.


By the time we reached the city of Zaragoza, we had passed out of the rain and fog.  Zaragoza promotes itself as the gateway to the Sierra de Puebla, that mountainous corner of the state of Puebla with thick tropical forests, waterfalls, caves, and the magical town of Cuetzalan.  We left the toll road and took the two-lane road up into the mountains, the only road that goes to Cuetzalan.

Rainfall is abundant in this region where the warm, moist air from the gulf hits the mountains.  The vegetation is lush. 

Even though the natural beauty of the area draws tourists, the road is a nightmare.  For more than an hour and a half Alejandro had to navigate around an obstacle course of potholes and even some spots where the pavement had been washed away.

Anyone driving has to focus on the road conditions instead of enjoying the mountain scenery.

A donkey grazing along the road.

At last we came to a sign announcing that we had come to the “municipio” (somewhat the equivalent of a county) of Cuetzalan.  The town of Cuetzalan was still another seven miles down the road.

 However, once we crossed the “county line”, the road was in excellent condition.

When we finally reached our hotel, we were told that just a half hour before they had a torrential thunderstorm.  It was fortunate that we had left Mexico City later than we had planned.  Driving this road in a downpour would have been an even greater nightmare. 

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