This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!
Letters from Mexico
March 27, 2021
Trails From Tepoztlán Centro
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. A landscape view from the trail beginning near Santa Cruz Church, a 15 minute walk from the town center (Centro). Photo by author
Tepoztlán is a "magic city" in the central volcanic region of Mexico where I've lived since 2003. Part of the magic is the very unusual shapes of the mountains, formed by secondary volcanic flow. There are many trails in the area through the mountains and woods. The one most used by tourists is an hour climb to a pyramid. In my opinion there are many more impressive trails, and you can see some of them by looking at the archives.
Thinking about it, I realized that for centuries before the automobile and roads, the people got around on foot by these trails. I walk the same trails they did.
My apartment is a twenty minute walk from Centro (the center of town) and five minutes from a mountain trail system. Recently I discovered two trails, besides the pyramid trail, that are only a fifteen minute walk from Centro.
We'll start these hikes from the center of town. The one to Colonia Natividad goes south from Centro, on Calle Cinco de Mayo, past San Miguel Church, and through a tunnel under the main federal highway. The other is north from Centro, near Santa Cruz Church.
Here is our starting point, where the main streets intersect.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Calle Cinco de Mayo, looking south to Colonia Natividad. Photo by auhtor
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Avenida Tepozteco, looking north from Centro. Go this way to the trail near Santa Cruz Church. Note the public transport lined up in the top image. Photo by author
The walk to Colonia Natividad takes us past a church on Cinco de Mayo, and finally through a tunnel under the main federal highway. This is a small colonia (subdivision of Tepoztlán) with a population of only 600. Much of it is built on the sides of mountains. A short ways from the tunnel is a chapel. A block in is an alleyway to the right that takes us up to series of stairs going up the mountain where a stream runs during the rainy season. That's the take off point for many trail systems in the wooded mountains.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. San Miguel Church on Cinco de Mayo, south of Centro on the way to Colonia Natividad. The top left image is the doorway into the church. Top right shows the interior of the roof of the cupola, pictured below on the right. Photo by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Tunnel under the main federal highway to Colonia Natividad. Photo by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Chapel near the tunnel in Colonia Natividad. Photo by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Alley in Colonia Natividad one block beyond the tunnel. It precedes a series of stairs up to the stream and trail system. Photo by author
Wherever one goes in Tepoztlán, they are greeted by our furry friends. People love having pets. Because of the temperate climate and for other reasons, many of them live outdoors. Would you like to see an article dedicated to the local dogs and cats?
Walking up the alley and stairs, I was greeted along the way by different guardians of the homes there. Here is a video for you to hear their chants.
Although the dogs in the video live outdoors, they spend time near homes where they are fed. Their barks tell the owners that someone is nearby providing an alarm. These homes are build on the sides of the steep hill. Carrying materials up to construct them was not easy. I wonder what it would be like carrying home the groceries and navigating such an incline.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Homes on the steep hillsides along the stairs/trail in Colonia Natividad. Photo by author
You've seen the route to the trails, including the church on the way, the tunnel and chapel, the alley, dogs, and the homes where they live. Now let's take a look at the stairs going up to the trails. We'll see them in the slide show below along with some of the trails at the top and incredible views.
At the top of the stairs in Colonia Natividad is a trail leading to other trail systems higher up in the wooded mountains. We'll explore those in another article soon.
Barrio Santa Cruz
Tepoztlán. Morelos, Mexico. Santa Cruz Church, one block from the start of the trail. Photo by author
The Santa Cruz Church is very old. It takes fifteen minutes to get here walking north from Centro along Avenida Tepozteco, then left high up a hilly street. One block north of the church is the beginning of the trail. It follows a pipe line, through some semi-residential wooded areas, past one of the biggest amate trees I've seen, and then a strictly wooded stretch with some wonderful landscape views of mountains. It ends at a wall of the main trail to the pyramid at a cistern.
Here's a slide show with images of these features:
When I go on hikes, I dislike needing to commute by a vehicle to get to the trailhead. It feels like it defeats the purpose to take a taxi or other public transport. That's why I am so happy to have found these two trails within a short walk from the town's center.
You'll notice that I gave a lot more space to the first mentioned trail in Colonia Natividad than the second one near the Santa Cruz Church. That's because I find Natividad so unusual, the tunnel, the alley with the barking dogs, leading to the many stairs with homes teetering at the edge of cliffs.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief foray as much as I enjoyed putting it together and hiking those areas.
I could use your help if you've the time and interest. I need pre-publication readers. This would be for my eBook compilation: Letters From Mexico: Part One, People and Places. Perhaps later for my memoir, Better Living in Mexico. What I need are critiques of writing style for clarity, movement, and description. Also, I'll need a few sentences of review to use on my website, and later reviews on Amazon. If you can do any or all of these, I'd be delighted! Just drop me an email telling me what you'd like to do and I'll send it along as a download. Thanks!