Day 182. Tuesday 28th Jan. Cholula to Tehuacan. Mexico.

Last nights camp worked pretty well. A little bit of grass for the caranex and with the back of it against a block wall. A nightclub nearby played for a while but sleep came easy and the morning was a bright and clear one and the wind from yesterday had gone. 

Leaving the vehicles where we camped, it was a tramp up to the massive church built on top of an indigenous pyramid, above us. The tallest pyramid in Mexico.

Looking out from the vantage point directly at Popocatepetl. A perfectly symmetrical mountain that is billowing smoke and steam. The villages and habitations all around the pyramid are dotted with dozens of magnificent churches.

By 11am it was a 12k drive back to Puebla. We are set to investigate tunnels that have only recently been opened to the public. The tunnels were built in the 1500’s, between churches and fortifications. Some are wide and high enough to drive a horse and cart through. It would seem they were later used by the locals in defence of an attack by the French military in 1862.

There was not a great amount of information as to why the French should be attacking Mexican territory but it was supported by conservative sections of Mexican society. The result for the French was disastrous initially, as the majority of French soldiers were incapacitated with dysentry.  Though they later retuned and were successful, installing their own Emperor Maxmillian 1. of Mexico. Not too much has changed.

As to why the French were involved in South America is worthy of investigation. Perhaps they were looking to consolidate in the Americas after loosing the Louisiana confederation.  Fascinating. No doubt European power, finance and religious struggles, were behind it? 

Well, having consulted wikipedia, it seems Mexico chose to suspend interest payments to French, British & Spanish banks.

The tunnels are now a tourist attraction in the city and here are some images of the surroundings.

Driving through the city of Puebla gave us a better idea of the scale of it. There are beautiful squares planted with trees giving shade. Of course the squares are bordered by churches and official buildings. 

Leaving Puebla by 1.30pm we are heading for Tehuacan (Tewhacan) 130k’s away. There are no camping facilities in Tehuacan so we head for Walmart. The commercial area around Walmart is very smart. Autozone (Repco) is visited to buy a 12v soldering iron and some electrical connectors. We are also looking for a DashCam and later bought one at Radio Shack, in the mall beside Walmart. A DashCam is hopefully a deterrent to opportunistic law enforcement. 

One of the hundreds of city commuter buses.

On the way into the city Sarah noticed a museum featuring dinosaurs. It’s about 4 k’s back and 4pm, so we decide to check the museum out. The Museo De La Evalucion Tehuacan is one of the best museums I can recall visiting. Dedicated to both rock and minerals from around the world and dinosaurs. The children were enthralled as were we by the transition and spacing of exhibits. As bonus we were given entry at no cost. 

Sarah tried to cajole the Auxiliary Police patrolling the empty car park to allow us to camp in the gated car park. Without success, so we headed back to set up camp in the Walmart car park. 

That turned into a saga. While we were away from the main entrance, a side road nearby was considered a threat. Tim went for a walk and found a dark, secluded area behind the mall.

After dinner we packed up and moved there. Having just got the caranex up on a dirt pad, security personnel wandered over and asked nicely for us not to park on the “grass”. OK, so we moved the vehicles to the bordering pavement and proceeded to prepare for the night. Uh oh, they are back again. “Sorry, you cant stay here for the night”, In spanish. Sarah decided to try and chat with the Mall manager but she was a hard nosed individual who had no sympathy for our needs. Back to the Walmart park and it’s 9pm by now.

One of the disturbing things about all the interaction we had had with locals is that the whole city is considered “peligrosa”, dangerous. We were warned not to leave our vehicles at night, if challenged, for any reason at all. Do we consider these warnings a threat to safety? While it kept me awake most of the night, it was baseless

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