Thursday, October 30, 2014

Huaquechula




The volcano has been erupting lately.

So, I want to spare some people a bit of struggle in getting to Huaquechula and back. I almost took my moped there on a rural road but took the bus instead. The moped is running great after like three weeks of work. But it's a little far to ride and I don't like leaving my moped in odd places. That decision led to some problems I'll get to later, but the initial problem was finding the bus terminal to Huaquechula. I guess asking someone would be the fastest way by old Oggy decided to hunt for it like a rooster in a barn full of mirrors. I figured it would be near the normal bus terminals on Independencia in Atlixco. I was right about that. If you are at the downtown Oro terminal then you are about three blocks away from the Huaquechula terminal. This is assuming you took a bus from Puebla. If you took a bus from Izucar de Matamoros then you should get off before Atlixco at the road to Huaquechula and take your chances that a small bus will have room.



Bus Terminal to Huaquechula, obviously.

In downtown Atlixco one must walk south on Independencia from the Oro terminal and the Huaquechula terminal will be on the west side of the street. How will you know it's the Huaquechula terminal? It's a big double door that is painted green. That took me two days to figure out so you're welcome. And all the little collectivo buses pulling into the doors or exiting to Huaquechula will have some kind of green color scheme. Some buses will be painted completely green. It's the Green Line to Huaquechula. And the buses have something like "Huaquechula Atlixco." Or "Huaque." painted on the windshield. It's 13.50 pesos for a one way trip. If you hang out south of the terminal on the street then you will see the buses coming and you will wave them down and they will slow down enough to tell you that they are full because no one flags down a bus to Huaquechula on the streets of Atlixco when the terminal has bathrooms and shade. Maybe later in the day there will be room. So, find the green double doors next to the shoe store and that's the terminal for Huaquechula.

I'm 600 years too late to join the monks at San Martin Convent.
The bus ride to Huaquechula is about 35 minutes and travels south on the road to Izucar Matamoros before taking a sharp right toward Huaquechula. And that's it. The bus will drop you off in the Zocalo a few yards from the San Martin monastery. The whole town will act like they were expecting your arrival; Some street vendors will try to sell you bracelets or write your name on a grain of rice or get you in on the ground floor in a nearby housing development. $4000 for a house sized plot of land. Sign now, they'll be gone soon. You'll hunt around for a bathroom and eventually walk into the Monastery grounds. Younger student guides will offer to give you a tour, which might be the only way you'll find the Pre-Hispanic artifacts embedded in the Monastery foundation. Yes, it's odd the Nahuatl Indians who constructed this Monastery in 1531 decided to bury old old carved glyphs within the foundation and walls. I really would like to have listened to that conversation when the monks either agreed to the use of these stones or found them and threw a fit. Was there a debate in 1532 or was it agreed these stones would be part of the construction? I'm puzzled. Did they hide the stones with plaster, knowing it would flake off later?
The camera is balanced on a wall that surrounds the whole monastery. It's fortified because the monks were not welcome.
And you can tour the Monastery interior ($36 pesos or $45 pesos if you want to take pictures) and the iguana colony and marvel at the cloister and the artwork and elaborate carvings of breezy plaster hallways and the awesome hanging toilets of 1540 that is a long bench on the second floor and you relieve yourself into the first floor compost bin. And you give the student guides 100 pesos each because they guided you around for two hours and almost spoke slow enough for you to understand them. And after the sun goes down you can take another picture of the Monastery and then return to Zocalo to find a bus back to Atlixco. Huaquechula is a village named after Eagles and Rosette Spoonbills, but you probably won't see either.

And you might find a bus and it will be empty and the bus driver will shake his head and say, "No hay servicio."

"No more service?"

And you will be confused because it's not even 7pm. But the driver will shrug and tell you the last bus left at 6:30pm while you were soaking up the local atmosphere at a soccer field. And you will probably panic because it's getting colder and darker and fireworks are exploding everywhere and you haven't seen a hotel anywhere and you were planning on going back to Atlixco for a pork taco or some chocolate gelato although Huaquechula has tacos and cake stores and hot dogs on the street. But you have no way to get home. It's a little spooky because you are in Huaquechula as it's popular for elaborate Ofrendas, or memorial altars to dead family members. So, you walk around and curse your luck for taking the bus instead of driving your van so you could sleep in it.

Soon it is dark and you have failed to hitch a ride at the edge of town, dogs prowl the gutters looking for scraps, teenagers are walking to the fair downtown. Your feet ache. If you'd only done a little bit of research you could've avoided this problem. The light-less streets are empty, there are no hotels, no cars, no buses and it's like 20 miles across rural flower farms and 500 year old Aztec battlefields to Atlixco. A silver crescent moon climbs above the rooftops. You sigh. It could be worse.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.