|You can't buy Havana Club in the U.S.|
Note: The bus from Mexico City Airport to Tepoztlán runs four times daily:
07:00, 09:15, 14:15, and 17:00 and costs 200 Pesos.
200 Pesos = about $11 dollars 50 Pesos = about $2.60 dollars
Approaching the bus, the driver motioned for me to put the accordion bag under the bus with the baggage. "No, Senior, fragile accordion." He motioned that it was too fat to fit in the overhead. Against his objections I boarded with the bag and sure enough, it did not fit in the overhead. Connie took her seat and shoved it in between her legs. The bus took more than an hour to get out of the city with stop and go traffic and rough roads. The second hour we traveled up and over the mountains and down into the valley to the outskirts of Tepoztlán where we disembarked, found our big bag under the bus, and did a high five to celebrate our successful arrival.
The taxi driver replied "50 Pesos" when we asked about a ride to our hotel. I said, "No.... forty pesos." and he nodded his head "OK," Jimi had said the ride was 40 pesos. I was glad to have remembered. Arriving a few minutes later at our lodgings at Meson Amanda, I gave him a 50, he gave me a 10 in change. I reached into my pocket for a tip, finding none, I gave him back the 10 peso coin and we both laughed. You can see above, just how inexpensive a 50 peso ride is.
Connie rang the ball, and we met Ernesto who showed us to our room, through a courtyard and up a spiral staircase to the second floor. Jimi popped his head in to greet us and all was well. Welcome to Magico Tepoztlán!
From Wikipedia.....Tepoztlán was named a "Pueblo Mágico" in 2002 but its title was removed in 2009 for failure to maintain the requirements. (They didn't keep the town clean enough) In 2010 Tepoztlán addressed these problems (painted the curbs and put trash cans on the sidewalks) and recovered the Pueblo Mágico title. This title is granted by the Ministry of Tourism of Mexico, recognizing those who inhabit these cities and the work they develop daily to protect and save the cultural wealth.
Meson Amanda is on one, one block from the main avenue 5th de Mayo. Walk down 5th de Mayo about 3 blocks and you come to Revolucion de 1910 and the huge local market. Jimi walked us to a booth, Ruth's Puesto, to introduce us to their huge vegetarian taco/quesadilla at 55 pesos. Going to bed early ( exhausted ) we lay on the hard bed listening to the dogs barking and the taxis tooting their horns.
|Our Little Room|
Over the next few days, Jimi showed us around town. He's been in and out of Tepoztlán for almost 30 years so he knows all the good and cheap places. We're lucky to have his guidance. There is a restaurant adjacent to the market called Naty's that Jimi frequents of often that they have a special priced plate just for him and his friends: Plato Jimi - 55 pesos plus a 15 peso tip. Fried nopales cactus, rice with a fried egg on top, refried beans, chips, and fresh corn tortillas.
Tepoztlán's main source of income is from tourism and most of the guests to the town come in from nearby Mexico City on the weekends. During the week, the town is a little bit sleepy but the main center with the market always has some action. On the weekend, streets are shut down, booths go up and the invasion begins. By noon the streets are full of people strolling along with big Micheladas in hand. ( Beer, lime, spices, and tomato juice)
|View to the north from our room|
Our little place is upstairs of a courtyard. It's a simple small room with an adjoining bathroom. The water pressure is somewhere between a dribble and a drop and there is a slight odor of sewer that we solve by putting a rug over the shower drain. The occasional roach or scorpion visits the bathroom.
manána. True to Mexico form, we had a working kitchen a week later.
Sometimes the water stops and you have to go find the pump switch and turn it on for a while until the rooftop cistern fills. After a few nights of bad sleep, I asked Ernesto if we could have a little foam topper for the hard bed. We got that installed in a shorter manana than before. Thank you sir! Meson Amanda is a nice little place, right in town, a little loud at times but very convenient.
We go on walks through the town every day and do all our shopping and eating at the local market where the prices are wonderfully cheap. A nice breakfast out might be 100 pesos. A plate of tacos will be 50 pesos. Vegetables cost next to nothing and we've found cheap wine at 60 pesos a bottle. Booking a room at Meson Amanda on Airbnb for just a night or two is about $30 USD/night. But you always get a super discount booking by the month. We're paying about $11 USD/night.
|Fresh tortillas - Always|
The main road through town climbs up to the face of the mountain, getting narrower and narrower until it becomes a cobbled footpath. All the roads in town are cobblestone. Flanked on each side are booths selling trinkets, tacos, bottled water, and micheladas.
|The trail to the top that kicked my butt|
In two miles the elevation gain is 1200 feet. The path starts with endless stone stairs then becomes more difficult and steep. Near the top you climb a steel tower through a steep ravine then pop out on top where you pay 45 pesos to access the archaeological site. Tepoztlan is at 5180 feet so the hike will really have you puffing. I took frequent rests to catch my breath and felt really out of shape.
On top we were inundated by a group of school kids who clambered up the Aztec pyramid, El Tepozteco, yelling and cutting up... and posing. It is interesting that tourists are not only allowed to scramble up the 500 year old temple but can sit up top, spill their colas, and take selfies.
The pyramid was built in 1502 A.D to honor Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec god of the alcoholic beverage pulque. And yes, you can buy pulque in town. It's a white, sour tasting liquid made from the sap of the agave plant.
From the studies of Daniel Ruzo, " Many people perceive a strange energy or magnetism in Tepoztlán and its “Sacred Valley” is one of the places in the world with the highest frequency of UFO sightings and other unexplained phenomena." Because of this energy, the Tepoztlán valley is home to many spiritual people and and has spas and retreats for meditation and body work.
Jimi took us up towards Santo Domingo Ocotitlan for a circle meditation on a beautiful tract of land right up next to the mountains. His job was to tune the large bowls that when played together produces a resonant vibration. A circle had been created under the shade of a large tree and decorated with flowers, candles, offerings, and incense. People arranged their blankets and mats outside that circle and sat or lay in meditative poses. Six crystal bowls were set out and Jimi poured the the right amount of water into each to produce a wonderful sound when the rim was rubbed with a wooden and rubber mallet. Once all six bowls got going they produced a wonderful sound. A shaman led everyone in a Chakra color meditation and it was a joyful occasion.
|Jamie Dean Hudson|
Back in town, we went to a musical celebration where the local artists gathered to celebrate the solstice. Good music (we danced!) and rum spiked punch and shots of Mezcal. On Saturday we went to Jimi's Jam at the market to hear his jazz combo and another afternoon we heard our friend Jamie play at Cafe Libelula. So nice to be in a place with live music. The other afternoon we heard a brass band blaring up the street. Connie and I ran outside to follow the sound. We located the marching band and followed them up the hill until they turned into a gated yard. It was a 15 year old's coming of age party, complete with brass band, fireworks, decorations, and barbecue.
|Nopales are everywhere and quite tasty|
The weekend ahead of Christmas saw huge crowds here in Tepoztlán and this Christmas week has been pretty crazy. The Catholic church is very active... two blocks away. They have three loud bells that ring throughout the day and night along with a loudspeaker that plays holiday songs. Last night, Christmas eve, the bombs (loud fireworks) went all night long. Today, I'm sleep deprived and am looking forward to a nap later. It seems like the bombs are going off less frequently right now. Maybe 1:00 pm is siesta time?
We are in Tepoztlán from December 15 until January 14. Then we'll make our way to Barra de Navidad and get on a sailboat for a week. Following that, we've found three little towns to visit in central Mexico before we get on a plane in Guadalajara bound for San Antonio. As events transpire, this blog will continue.
|View of Tepoztlan from El Tepozteco. Note the ever present haze, spilled over from Mexico City.|