I felt very lucky to stay with my friend’s father for a few days. I had left a number of my vitamins and clothes at his home and needed to a box home (my pack weighed 45 pounds or more when I left home). The first day of my visit to Ixtapaluca, Ruben and I watched some of the films he has collected, including one of Elvis in Hawaii, West Side Story (in Spanish and English), the left side of the Mountain, and lots of music videos from the 50s and 60s. I went for a walk along the Paseo de Poetas and saw the name of Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Because it’s the rainy season, the grass is growing lush and at the end of the road I walked along a dirt road for a few minutes, aware that I needed to be careful to not walk in places where I’d be alone. Tuesday we took a very lovely trip past Amecameca to San Rafael, the base of the closest volcano. Apparently there are waterfalls there, but Ruben was very worried about hiking there (he said as we drove up toward the trail that the people must be thinking there go the victims). He had given me a stern lecture the night before about not going anywhere after dark, and told me about various times that he had been robbed on the Combi (transportation on a VW bus to and from Mexico City to his house). I didn’t sleep well thinking about his warning, and thought that perhaps I would just go home and skip this apparently dangerous country. I walked for about 20 minutes up into the beautiful cedar-strewn mountains where cascadas (waterfalls) fell from the hills. It was the first time I saw really clean running water.
I wanted to stay for hours but knew Ruben would worry, so I hurried down the hill. We stopped at a lovely old church, another convent/Jesuit? cathedral on our way down the hill. Arrived back to his house (Ixtapaluca) and watched Left Side of the Mountain. A beautiful film set in what looked like the Swiss Alps. Wednesday I spent hours sending my package, which weighed 11 pounds or so. The problem was that Mexico doesn’t allow any medicine (or supplements) to be sent by mail. I thought about using Fed Ex, but they charge 120 US to send an 11 pound box. Not worth it. I wrapped the supplements in bubble wrap and claimed them as artesenias, which was the only way I could do it. I had to buy special paper, glue, and tape to prepare the box, and spent close to half an hour weighing each set of items and writing a description (in Spanish) of the contents – then a duplicate. Finally I sent it (what a relief – talk about a weight off my shoulders). We spent the rest of the day at Ruben’s – I walked to the next township where Sergio has a palateria. Francisco was also there, and we laughed and talked. A young man working for Sergio suggested that we hike the cascadas the next day, but it wasn’t possible because Ruben needed to leave to visit his daughter.
Thurs am I woke, packed my things (a big project), and left. I was sad saying goodbye to Ruben but hoped that I would be able to visit again when I returned to the city. We drove to the bus stop and a bus to Puebla drove up literally as we arrived. I paid and jumped on the bus headed to Puebla. I met a nice young man named Ulises and he gave me some suggestions about where to go near Puebla. He was headed to Tlaxcala and gave me his number. I arrived in the CAPU (main bus terminal in Puebla) and was astonished at how clean it was and how helpful the informacion turistica was. He spent half an hour with me, telling me about various places (all in Spanish) where I might go. He gave me several maps and tourist brochure pamphlets. I then took a bus towards the Zocalo (the traditional center of town) and walked many blocks in search of affordable and adequate accomodations. I found a nice posada and a hostel, and finally chose the hostel. It was the International Hostel of Santo Domingo, 2 blocks from the same said church with its beautiful baroque Capillo del Rosario.