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We will start with our trip from san Miguel de Allende to Cholula and Puebla. We had to make sure we bypassed Mexico City which has a population of 20+ million in the outskirts. It is a huge city and you cannot drive into it as a foreigner. Locals can drive in it on certain days depending on their license plate number. This is to reduce pollution.

 

Coordinates 19.99452 N 99.47830 W ( about 1 Km in front of the actual ramp )

The Arco Norte is also known as "Mex 40D" -  at KM 88

http://www.arconorte.com.mx/

The ramp is still the original so don't be looking for a fancy new one. Toll booth is a card dispenser that you get a card from indicating where you entered. There was someone there to reach it for us as they are too high to reach. Suspect that will change after the ramp is modernized.

Toll road is good, concrete so a little rough in some spots. The first part is older pavement. Overall a good experience. No completed gas stations. Fill your vehicle up before you get on the toll road. Some pictures


 

Looks like they grow a lot of Prickly Pear Cactus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia

John and I stayed at a very nice RV park in Cholula

Trailer Park Las Americas

http://www.ontheroadin.com/interior/lasamericas.

It had all utilities( sewer, water, hydro) and Wifi if you go into the small clubhouse.

GPS Coordinates: 19.07242 N   98.29568 W    7,100 ft

 It is only 14 blocks ( 20 min walk)  from the pyramid and a $6-8 cab ride to Puebla

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholula,_Puebla

Quoted from Wikipedia:

Cholula is a city in the Mexican state of Puebla. The official, though little used, full name of the city is Cholula de Rivadavia. The city of Cholula is divided into two municipalities, San Andrés Cholula and San Pedro Cholula, which are considered to be part of the conurbation of the city of Puebla, and a third, more rural municipality called Santa Isabel Cholula.

Cholula is located about 15 km west of the city of Puebla, at an approximate elevation of 2135 meters (about 7000 ft) above sea level. The population of Cholula de Rivadavia as of the 2005 census was 82,964 people, the population of San Andrés Cholula was 35,206 and the population of Santa Isabel was 12,349. The municipality of San Pedro Cholula has an area of 51.03 km² (19.7 sq mi) and a population of 113,436, and the municipality of San Andrés Cholula has an area of 61 km² (23.55 sq mi) and a population of 80,118. Most of the residents of the municipality of San Andrés Cholula who do not live in the city of San Andrés Cholula reside in the city of Tlaxcalancingo, which, at a population of 38,541, is actually more populous than the municipal seat. Santa Isabel Cholula has an area of 67.61 km², which make it the largest municipality of all three by surface alone and the one with the lowest population density.

History

Cholula, or in Nahuatl Cholōllān, was an important city of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, dating back to at least the 2nd century BC, with settlement as a village going back at least some thousand years earlier.

Cholula was a major center contemporary with Teotihuacan and seems to have avoided, at least partially, that city's fate of violent destruction at the end of the Mesoamerican Classic period. Cholula thus remained a regional center of importance, enough so that, at the time of the fall of the Aztec empire, Aztec princes were still formally anointed by a Cholulan priest in a manner reminiscent, and perhaps even analogous, to the way some Mayan princes appear to have come to Teotihuacan in search of some sort of formalization of their rulership.

At the time of the arrival of Hernán Cortés Cholula was second only to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City) as the largest city in central Mexico, possibly with a population of up to 100,000 people. In addition to the great temple of Quetzalcoatl and various palaces, the city had 365 temples.[citation needed]

During the Spanish Colonial period, however, Cholula was overtaken in importance by the nearby city of Puebla.

 

 

John and I are about to climb the road to the top of the pyramid (Great Pyramid of Cholula) and then there is another set of stairs up to the church on top. You want to be physically fit for this trip or walk slow.

There are people selling food and drink along the path and vendors at the top by the church.

She was selling fruit, peanuts, etc

Did I mention she was also selling fried grasshoppers (Chapulin). It is quite common here. John and I each tried one, but it was too salty and you have to get past the idea it is a dead critter!!!  Not my taste

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapulines

Quoted from Wikipedia:

Chapulines are grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium. They are collected only at certain times of year (from their hatching in early May through the late summer/early autumn). After being thoroughly cleaned and washed, they are toasted on a comal (clay cooking surface) with garlic and lemon juice and sal de gusano, lending a sour-spicy-salty taste to the finished product. Some people will toast their chapulines with chiles, but some vendors and cooks feel that chiles are used to cover for stale chapulines and only show up in the poorest quality grasshoppers. Chapulines are available only in certain parts of Mexico, the state and city of Oaxaca being one of the better known regions. There is debate over how long Chapulines have been a food source in Oaxaca. There is one reference to grasshoppers that are eaten in early records of the conquest.[1]. Today, Chapuline are harvested throughout the summer and enjoyed largely in and around Oaxaca City, Oaxaca. They are sold as snacks at local baseball games and are enjoying something of a revival among foodies [2]

The taste is unique, but not especially strange. They may be eaten individually as a botana (snack) or as a filling, eg: tlayuda filled with chapulines.

Chapulines must be cooked prior to consumption. As with other grasshoppers, they may carry nematodes that can infest human hosts.

The word chapulín for grasshopper is specific to Mexico and derives from the Nahuatl language. In Spain and most Spanish speaking countries, the word for grasshopper is saltamontes or saltón.

 

Pictures looking out over the area from up top

This an active volcano which last erupted in 1998.

Popocatepetl - most active volcano in Mexico

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popocatépetl

 

Church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iglesia_de_Nuestra_Señora_de_los_Remedios

 

Great Pyramid of Cholula

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Cholula

Quoted from Wikipedia:

The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for "artificial mountain"), is a huge complex located in Cholula,Puebla, Mexico. It is the world's largest monument and largest Pre-Columbian pyramid by volume.

The temple-pyramid complex was built in four stages, starting from the 3rd century BCE through the 9th century CE, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 450 by 450 m (1476x1476 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft). According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in fact the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at over 4.45 million m³, even larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt which is about 2.5 million m³. However the Great Pyramid of Giza is higher at 138.8 m (455 feet).[1] The Aztecs believed that Xelhua built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

Today the pyramid at first appears to be a natural hill surmounted by a church. This is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of the Remedies), also known as the Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios (Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Remedies), which was built by the Spanish in colonial times (1594) on the site of a pre-Hispanic temple. The church is a major Catholic pilgrimage destination, and the site is also used for the celebration of indigenous rites. Many ancient sites in Latin America are found under modern Catholic holy sites, due to the practice of the Catholic Church repurposing local religious sites.

Because of the historic and religious significance of the church, which is a designated colonial monument, the pyramid as a whole has not been excavated and restored, as have the smaller but better-known pyramids at Teotihuacan. Inside the pyramid are some five miles (8 km) of tunnels excavated by archaeologists.

 

 

We took a guided tour which cost us 150 pesos and included a tour of the museum. Our guide had been giving this tour for 30 years was a native of Cholula

 

 

This is where they use to have human sacrifices. they would burn the bodies in this pit

The glass cover is just for protection of the ruins

Altar

Mural ( it has mostly faded away)

reconstructed part of the pyramid to show what it would have looked like

Original portion of the pyramid

You can climb the stairs at your own risk. There is a rope at the side of the stairs you can hang on to, but I decided it was safer to stay at the bottom

Museum

Model of what the pyramid would look like if fully excavated

Copy of what the murals looked like in their day

Pottery found on the sight

 

Time to walk go for lunch at a local restaurant: La Lunita

Our meals were excellent. Johns was only $8 and mine was $15 ( I had the Chiles en Nogada)

Chiles en Nogada

Quoted from Wikipedia:

Chiles en nogada is a dish from Mexican cuisine. The name comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree, nogal. It consists of poblano chiles filled with "picadillo" (a mixture usually containing chopped or ground meat, aromatics, fruits, and spices) topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, giving it the three colors of theMexican flag: green for the chili, white for the nut sauce and red for the pomegranate.

The traditional "Chile en Nogada" is from Puebla. The Chiles en nogada are tied to the independence of this country since it is said that they were prepared by the first time to entertain the emperor Agustín de Iturbide on the occasion of his onomastic one. This dish is a motive of pride for the habitants of the state of Puebla

Some Mexican historians believe that the inventors of this dish were the Monjas Claristas, although for others think that were the "Madres Contemplativas Agustinas" of the convent of Santa Monica, Puebla. [1] The "Chiles en nogada" arise from the purest patriotic and national spirit.

The picadillo usually contains panochera apple (manzana panochera), sweet-butter pear (pera de mantequilla) and criollo peach (durazno criollo). The cream usually has milk, butter and washed nuts. The traditional season for making and eating this dish is August and first half of September.

 

The portion was huge, so I had John help me eat it!

Tomorrow we will tour Puebla

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