Saturday evening had a lot of potential, but unfortunately my head cold caught up with all my sleepless nights and I hit a brick wall. After eating dinner, Alex and I took off for the town center to meet our friend Daniel and the GU crowd. We had plans with Dan later in the night and in the meantime we were going to show the Zags where to hang out in the centro. They were easy to find (a bunch of pale white kids gawking at their first sights in Mexico).
We ran into themwandering around downtown and decided to join forces. Starting at the local cathedral, we kept meandering closer and closer to the local bar scene. At the end of the tour, we were standing in front of about six different taverns at the beginning of happy hour. I make a good guide.
Naturally, everyone ordered dos cervesas and we all dove into conversation together (none of it in Spanish). Alex and I had to take it easy because we still had to ride home, but it was fun watching the college students do what they do best. After listening to a Mexican hippie drum line for two hours while we enjoyed happy hour, it was time to show them Cuernavaca’s gem: Los Arcos.
Just a block away, we got to Los Arcos right on time while there was still seating. It was getting dark, so Al and I decided to take the bikes home and taxi back while everyone else settled in at the bar. We returned to find that some of the students had gone home, but the strong had survived.
I mentioned that I was sick earlier in the week. As it turns out, vacation-style consumption and sweaty nights in the mosquito buffet are not conducive to getting over a cold fast. After another hour at Los Arcos I had just about lost my voice. This has happened to me many times, most recently in Las Vegas. Usually it’s the result of too much screaming but Saturday night it was the first sign of my body absolutely shutting down.
Around 10:00pm everyone decided to part ways. The GU kids had to be up early for a field trip to Teotihuacan and Alex and I were following our other friends to a different bar for dancing. We hopped in a cab with Daniel and Olympia (brother and sister who speak about five different languages) and sped off toward Eggo Bar.
By the time we arrived I was fading fast. My eyes had that warm, fuzzy feeling that made them stay shut every time I tried to blink. My nose had filled with snot. My lips were dry and my tongue sticky. And the group was talking about which bottle of liquor to buy from the bar. Before fainting, I had to bow out. I think Al was suffering from something similar because he instantly agreed. We made plans for Sunday afternoon with our friends and were gone in a flash.
I think I slept around ten hours that night and it still wasn’t enough. I woke up late morning with my esophagus coated in green slime. My nostrils were clogged with mortar and my voice had barely recovered. I got out of bed and spent the next half hour hacking and blowing into the sink until I could finally breathe. We had made plans to take Daniel and Olympia to a nearby town called Tepoztlan on our bikes and I intended to stick to them. Plus, the only way to get past a cold like this is to override the symptoms with adrenaline.
We all met up around noon and took off for Tepoztlan shortly thereafter. It was a forty minute ride over some small hills and into another valley that sank into the city. Everyone had said Tepoztlan was worth seeing and they were all right. It was a classic Mexican city built at the base of a towering cliff range. The streets were cobblestone and all of the buildings the same stucco style. Obviously a tourist attraction, the entire place was one big market flourishing with arts, crafts, and delicacies.
Daniel and Olympia recommended that we first see the main attraction: the pyramid at the top of the mountain. They said it was a short hike so Alex and I were of course jazzed. We walked down the main drag as the road slowly started gaining elevation and getting narrower. Eventually, the vendors became more and more sparse and the road eventually turned into a staircase leading straight up a cliff band.
Apparently native Mexicans never caught on to the ‘switchback’ method of trail building because this hike was literally straight up the mountain. Someone had haphazardly laid out a bunch of big rocks in a mostly straight line directly towards the top and that was good enough. We scrambled about a mile up to the top through some amazing terrain. The cliffs were very unique; there would be 100 feet of sheer drop off and then a flat terrace on top. Directly behind the terrace was another cliff wall going even higher. The cliffs layered in this fashion on and on all the way to the top.
Finally, at the top, we sat down on the little pyramid and took in the view. We looked directly down on Tepotzlan and off in the distance we could see the beginnings of Cuernavaca. We were surrounded by monolithic peaks dressed in jungle vine in every direction. I finally startedto get that Indy feeling… but I didn’t have my hat.
Soon enough we noticed clouds forming in the distance and decided to head down. The descent was just as interesting and often required all four limbs to navigate the trail. At the bottom I chugged a bottle of water, ate some tacos, and felt all better; except my cold was back on my heels. We walked around the market for a while and toured an ancient Convent before I decided I needed to go home and lie down again.
On the way back the typical Cuernavaca torrential rainfall attacked and I was soaked to the bone by the time we returned. Even though it was still 80F degrees out, it couldn’t have helped. I got into bed and wondered how we would ever get out of Cuernavaca Monday morning. The answer: we didn’t.
While I quivered in bed, Daniel and Olympia made some calls and explained to Alex a cheap place near Uninter where we could stay. We woke up Monday morning, packed, and headed off to see the place. I am now happily writing from my own room which costs about $3.90/night. It doesn’t come with much, but I have a sheetless bed, a bathroom, and internet which are all I need. At $4/night, I’m not worried about splurging at the local taco stand so who needs a kitchen?
Alex and I decided to stay in Cuernavaca even longer for a couple reasons. Mostly, we are lazy Mexicans. But also, there are still a couple lingering issues with our bikes that need to be worked out. My clutch cable didn’t arrive until this afternoon so we would have had to wait around until 4:00pm anyway. I have since installed it and am very excited not to have that nagging doubt every time I shift gears.
Alex finally made up his mind and bought a new box to replace his broken one. After realizing that he was not going to find a new Pelican case, he broke down and bought a local equivalent made out of fiberglass. It fits perfectlyand will do everything he needs; it is also the exact box that every Mexican pizza delivery boy uses on the back of his motorcycle. So, once he gets it mounted, Alex will look like the biggest, baddest Domino’s driver in town. I will have fun with this.