During the week before our arrival in Mexico City, we visited the large city of Querétaro, the small Pueblo Mágico of Topotzotlán, and the pre-hispanic ruins of Teotihuacán.
Our RV tanks were full when we were coming into Querétaro. So we tried something we’ve never done before: we went to a wastewater treatment plant.
The plant we found was small and the employees were a little confused. But we explained that we opposed dumping our waste on the side of the road and would rather dispose of it correctly. A really helpful guy made a phone call to his jefe, and then he told us where to hook up to thr sewer. A successful (and hopefully legal) dump.
With our waste tanks empty and water tank full, we were able to spend the next few nights in a shopping mall parking lot. This meant we could take clandestine showers in the van and connect to the McDonald’s wifi.
We were in Querétaro at a great time. The city was in the middle of “Trovafest” a free music festival of singer-songwriters. I saw that Pedro Guerra was going to be there on Saturday! I had a CD of his in college. So cool!
On Friday morning we visited an archaeological complex called El Cerrito. It was occupied from around the 8th to the 17th centuries. Entrance was free. It will be nice when the museum is finished, hopefully with some of the artifacts!
Later, we got an oil change. We also tried to find a garage where we could wash the underside of our van. But none had ramps a pit, or a strong enough jack. Driving our van in the horrendous traffic soon took its toll on us though, so we gave up.
Instead we went to the park called El Cerro de las Campanas, near the university campus. This is where the Emperor Maximilian I was executed, at the age of 34.
We arrived only an hour before closing time (6pm) but we saw the statue of Benito Juárez commemorating the hundredth anniversary of his execution, or, “The Trumph of the Republic”.
Inside the gates, couples were selling handicrafts. We would be meeting up with my friend Lindsay and her husband Gil, so we bought them a couple of handmade dolls which are famous in this region. The girl dolls even have underpants. They’re so cute.
On Saturday, we spent some time meandering through Querétaro’s long chain of plazas. We visited the regional museum, which has a cool layout and some fun interactive displays.
We were really happy to see Plaza Fundadores packed for the Trovafest that evening, even though it was pretty chilly. Not only did the Queretanos make a very attentive audience, they also sang along with almost every song.
When Pedro Guerra appeared on stage, the audience went crazy! I was so surprised, because not only is he Spanish, but his songs are not really ones that you are likely to hear on the radio. I was also happy to find out I still really enjoyed his music, even after many years of not listening to it.
Other artists we saw: Spanish jazz singer Solé Jiménez, the very operatic Mexican singer Edgar Ocearansky, and one of the most famous Mexican singers and composers, Armando Manzanero (think Mexican Sinatra meets Mexican Gershwin). An honest treat.
I wish we could have seen all of the performers. The sound system was strong and clear and videographers put some really nice shots on the big screen. But most of all, the city did an awesome job of bringing a variety of talented, international artists.
But great, free entertainment isn’t just in Querétaro; it’s the norm almost everywhere in the country. Do the Mexicans ever take it for granted?
We walked home with a styrofoam cup full of hot mulled apple-guava drink, and I though about how lucky we were to be in Mexico.
The next day we arrived in the Pueblo Mágico of Topotzotlán.
We had to fork up 270 pesos to the rudest man we have met in Mexico, the owner of Pepe’s RV park. We then found that the bathrooms were filthy, there was no water for showers, and the office shut as soon as we arrived, so we couldn’t find anyone to help us. We felt so dumb.
We had to take a walk. Sadly, the majority of the faces we saw in the surrounding streets belonged to stray dogs. This was largely in contrast to what we saw in other Pueblos Mágicos, like Tequila, which offered free neutering for pets.
Thankfully, the atmosphere in the main plaza was different. It was bustling with Mexican tourists on that Sunday afternoon. Bring your appetite, as there was loads of nibbles to try from all over Mexico!
Back at the van we had a little Spanish-style dinner and streamed The Daily Show in the van. It felt like a little luxury to have good internet, and a little naughty to watch TV over dinner!
On the way out of town, we found a truck wash! Finally a place that could accommodate our van!
TeotihuacánWe had one more stop before Mexico City: the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán.
We stayed at an RV park about a mile away. It was just as expensive as the last place, but at least the women who ran it were nice.
This was the first place where we encountered other “overlanders”; we met a Swiss couple who had been on the road for two years in their Landcruiser prototype camper, a French couple in a VW pop-up camper. There was another large RV with stickers of the owner’s French-language blog site, and another camper that had a large printed quotation about freedom on the side.
The Swiss couple had some pointers for us. For example, they said that Belize was really expensive, and thst more beautiful beaches and jungles exist elsewhere. They said that Nicaragua and Honduras are less touristy but just as beautiful.
I told Janet, the woman, about my fear of always paying to stay in RV parks! She said that when we get to South America, populated areas are fewer and farther between, so it will become easier to park up anywhere. That helped me remember the big picture; we have really just begun this trip and have a lot of countries to look forward to!
The next day we visited the Teotihuacán archaeological site. The complex is so huge that there are several entrances around the perimeter.
We thought it would be good to cycle there. From town there were paths which were eat to ride on, minus one little stretch of highway. But when we got there, the guards at one of the gates said that we weren’t allowed to bring our bikes into the parking lot! Really? We were not very happy.
At the next entrance there was a tree-shaded spot where everyone seemed to be stashing their bikes. We winked at the guard, bought our tickets, and finally walked in.
We spent hours walking around the complex. The climb to the top of the Temple of the Sun was a bit of a challenge even for us 30-ish year-olds, but it was lovely.
The informational signs don’t offer much apart from structural statistics. If you don’t plan on paying for a guide, get some info before you go!
After a long day of cycling, walking, and climbing, we were exhausted. Mentally we were also tired of silly expensive RV parks and parking lots and ready to kick back in our (free) Airbnb room in the capital!