The night before I was browsing the web and noticed that Puebla looked like a great city to visit. So after discussing it for about 30 seconds we agreed to go there the next day. It's really great not having a set schedule or route.
Conveniently there is a narrow, curvy road that heads directly north out of San Marcos and eventually hooks up with a major road towards Puebla.The road was under construction in San Marcos so we had to take some back alleys down to the river, cross it (my first river crossing in Mexico [and nothing to speak of]) and find some back alleys back to the road on the other side.
Into the mountains.
The narrow curvy road took us up into the mountains, through tiny, remote villages (over topes and around potholes) and past farming land. I doubt many people travel through here as we were stared at by everyone we passed. An aside: It seems like this is the season of baby animals (although I didn't get any pictures). We saw baby cows, horses, burros, dogs and many, very cute baby pigs.
Trying a behind the back shot.
Burros. They're stubborn. We had to go around.
Once we hit the main road the going got faster, but not less interesting. As we crossed the mountains, the climate once again changed from coastal forest to high desert. I randomly spotted a “Zona Archeologica” sign and we decided to investigate. We found what turned out to be the Tehuacalco Ruins, of the Yope people (my first ruins on this trip).
The daily shot. You know it!
It's good that I started exploration of ruins here as these are small (in comparison to many) and that leaves room to be further impressed. If I visited the very biggest and best ruins first, all others would be a disappointment. Now, when I see the next Zona Archeologica I may still be thrilled and amazed.
Did they really play with human heads?
Me, next to a stelae.
After spending a couple of hours exploring the ruins, we continued north to Puebla. The riding was a mix of slower back roads and fast, major highways, some of them with tolls. In fact, unlike in some of the more northern states that charge half price tolls for motorcycles, Puebla (the state) charges the same amount as for cars. Just one of the tolls (and there were several) close to Puebla cost me 117 pesos!! That's more than I pay for a room some nights!
Into the desert.
It turned dark before we arrived in the city, and at one of the entrance ramps to a toll road I was stopped by the police for the first time in Mexico. The officer who came to check me out spoke no English (Randy got the English speaker) so it was a bit difficult to converse. He was looking for drugs and was surprisingly thorough in his search. Not only did I have to open all my cases (expected), but he made me explain (or at least try to explain) what each item was. For some reason he did not recognize an electric razor OR a disposable razor for what they were. I had to mime the use of the razor on another cops face for him to understand (the same held for many other items). Strange. He also thoroughly searched my wallet which seemed a little odd (but he didn't take any cash). After not finding any contraband he let me continue on my way.
As I peaked the hilltop overlooking Puebla I was surprised by the shear size of the city. It was a bit intimidating looking down and the expanse of lights in the valley below. “Navigating this place may be a bit of a challenge” I thought to myself. It was, in fact, not bad at all. The previous night I GPSed some hostels and set way-points so they wouldn't be too hard to find. After a few wrong turns and one way streets we found the place we were looking for. It turned out to be more of a “room for rent” than a hostel, but it was late, dark and I was tired so we stayed the night at Hostel Popocatepetl. For the record, the proprietor was a really nice man and he was very organized.