Cholula - The eleventh step ... Mexico City to Cancun via Guatemala & Belize - CycleBlaze

September 5, 2021 to September 6, 2021

Cholula

September 4th, 2021

Today was a real mixed bag but in the end we got to Cholula in relatively positive spirits.

Breakfast was only available from eight thirty at the Hotel Milenio and in the end it was hardly worth waiting for consisting of instant coffee and some stale confectioneries.  But that doesn't take away the kindness that Eduardo and his family had shown us the day before.

We headed off at about a quarter past nine knowing that we had a stiff climb to start the day before a nice downhill to San Martin Texmelucan and then a flattish ride to Cholula where we planned to spend two nights so we could take in the pyramid with the church built on top of it.  After initial descent when leaving Nanacamilpa we tackled the climb positively and we soon back at 2766 meters above sea level, the same height as yesterday's highest point.

Looking back down the climb out of Nanacamilpa.
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Southwards to San Martin Texmelucan. It was supposed to be all down hill from here.
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The downhill was lovely being just steep enough for us to glide down at about 35-40 kilometers an hour with the occasional little bump where we would need to use our pedals.  There were lots of road cyclists coming in the opposite direction and it must have been quite hard work for them.

In the village of San Antonio Atotonilco we stopped to buy a cold drink at the local OXXO, a 7-Eleven type store that is ubiquitous around here.  Just south of the village we had our first mishap of the day.  The route was supposed to be downhill but we were climbing steeply again.  We had missed a turnoff onto a small cement road that would take us through a valley (we have been avoiding unsealed roads because we are in the middle of the rainy season).  We should have stopped and backtracked but pushed on hoping the climb wouldn't be too bad but we ended up climbing an extra 120 steep meters and covering an extra 5 kilometers.

The town of San Martin Texmelucan was pretty chaotic but we managed to find a super taco stall.  M$60 pesos bought us 4 filled to overflowing with some richly flavoured birria, a type of meat stew, topped with a herby dressing and lime juice.  I should have taken a photo but I was too busy eating.

No photo of the tacos but the plastic bag of rubbish tied to back rack means we are really cycle touring again.
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Following the route suggest by Google Maps, Maps.ME and Open Route Service we carried on down a dirty road through an industrial area which then became a depressed residential area.  Suddenly a man of about forty riding a small moto with his teenage son riding pillion stopped us.  Using words almost exactly the same as we heard in Valparaiso, Chile back in 2018 he warned us that we were passing through "una zona muy peligrosa" and that we would certainly be robbed.  At least there was no suggestion that we would have our throats cut as was the warning in Valparaiso.  When we asked him for the best route out he told us to follow him.  He turned down a side street - "Is this guy safe ?" asked Leigh - and stopped outside his house where he enlisted his wife to get on the moto with their son and lead us to the main road.  The routing services from Google etc can't tell one how safe a route is but thank goodness the world is full of lovely people.

Saying goodbye to our guardian angels.
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Once on the main road it was a slog into a growing headwind.  Fortunately the road dipped gently downwards which helped negate the wind to some extent.  The last twenty five kilometers were a real slog but somehow our energy grew the closer we got to Cholula and we entered the town at a good lick.

Cholula at last !
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We are staying at the Hotel Cristo Vivo just next to the church built on top of the pyramid - the Santaurio de la Virgen de los Remedios.  More about that tomorrow.

The view from our room to the church on top of the pyramid. We will have to climb up there tomorrow.
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We are going off to look for an Italian restaurant for supper.  This is a tourist area so we will take a break from Mexican food.

September 5th, 2021

Well, plans don't always work out.

Last night's Italian supper turned into another Mexican one, albeit a very good one, because the Italian restaurant close by was closed.  As we left the Mexican restaurant the heavens opened and we arrived back at our digs soaking wet.

This morning we wandered off to the Great Pyramid of Cholula and Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios only to find that they were closed.  So the best we could do was admire them from behind the security fence that surrounds them.  At least we were spared the effort of climbing all the way up.

The Spanish built the church between May 1574 and August 1575, not knowing that the "hill" on which they were building it was actually an enormous pyramid.  The Great Pyramid of Cholula is so big in fact that, when measured by volume, it is four times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza!  On that criteria it is the largest in the world.  The pyramid is actually six superimposed structures and was constructed over about twelve centuries.  About 800m of the approximately 8Km of tunnels inside the pyramid are accessible to tourists and these are what we regret missing most of all.  We just have to accept that the pandemic will mean there will be many sites we would like to visit that will be closed.

This afternoon we hopped on our bicycles and did a little tour around the center of Cholula, mostly taking in various churches but also making a short stop at bicycle shop for some chain lube and an unsuccessful attempt to draw money from an ATM (quite important since I don't have a single peso left).

Templo de San Juan Aquiahuac
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Convento de San Gabriel Arcángel
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Interior of the church at the convent.
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We also got nice views of the western end of the pyramid. This is where we would have been able to enter the tunnels were it not for the pandemic.
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We managed to get our Italian supper this evening but the Apfelstrudel I had for desert was more German than the Fettuccine I had was Italian.  Still, it was a pleasant change and we timed our return to our digs just in time to miss the evening downpour.

Tomorrow we have a very short ride to Puebla city.

Today's ride: 76 km (47 miles)
Total: 215 km (134 miles)

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