|A strangler fig draped over lava stones on the trail leading to the Pyramid|
|My Mother and I sitting on the "Mother Stone" during the dedication of the Halls Hill Labyrinth, with the full moon mosaic I made on her birthday at our feet.|
|A labeled can, full of nested cans I found in the garage. Shades of Marcel du Champ|
|One of the meticulously beautiful cone wreaths my Mother made when I was a child|
After 6 weeks of reliving every minute aspect of our childhoods and the lives of everyone she knew, I was emotionally exhausted. I take a lot of photos and one of the main reasons was so I could share what I see with my Mother. I think of her every time I take a picture. She wont be seeing them anymore, but I still take them for her. It makes me cry a lot. Tears are coming as I write this.
I travel to regain my sanity, one that is challenged by chores of every day life and the chaos of the World that presents itself in the media day after day. I am not a fan of the current administration running our country. I deplore Xenophobia, because I am a well traveled Libran and know how good most people in the world are. There is no supreme race. America is not number one. There is no reason to look down upon others based on differences when you see what is really going on in the world first hand. All of the Muslims I've ever met are gracious, wonderful people. We are lucky to border Mexico. Our culture would be greatly lacking without them. Building a wall to keep them out is so stupid to me. Thats where I first learned to travel in foriegn country. That is where I returned to heal my broken heart after the loss of my Mother. It was the first of many countries she traveled to as well. She loved it.
I'm lucky to be self employed and able to go when I need to. I set my life up this way on purpose. I work very hard when I work so that I can take time to get away for long periods of time. So I stayed up late one night and booked a flight to Mexico City. It would have been too costly and time consuming to return to Europe and resume my journey to Crete. My two side by side houses in Portland were subletted for the winter until March so it made sense to me to make this trip.
The last time I spent a winter in Mexico was the year before I started my two 6 month stints working at Camp Glenorchy in New Zealand. Right before I left I met up with a friend who lives in Mexico City who told me about the town of Tepoztlán, a couple of hours away in a mountainous region to the south in the state of Morelos. It sounded really interesting to me. It turns out there is a bus directly from the airport that passes through the town so I found a nice looking and very affordable place near the mercado on Airbnb, and a couple of weeks later was on a plane. It turned out that two good friends had been there for over a week and we would have two days of overlap.
I arrived by taxi from the small bus station outside of town after a beautiful ride through pine and oak forested mountains, obnoxiously seranaded by a dubbed action film they always show on buses. Mexico City is one of the largest in the world and its amazing that you can be out in such a lovely landscape once you get past the traffic jams of the metropolis.
|The dramatic mountain landscape surrounding Tepoztlán|
|A bouganvillea draped wall in hot pink splendor by the entry drive|
|A huge Philodendron encloses the parking court from the gardens|
|Hanging and potted plants surrounding a vine covered tree in the courtyard|
|Gardens at Guadalupe Rojas|
The garden is a wide terrace on a hillside with views of the mountains framing the valley beyond. They are of volcanic origin, with layers of successive flows of lava stacked upon each other, which then eroded to make dramatic vertical slopes.
|A mountain view from the edge of the garden|
|Low curved lava stone walls frame hedges and beds filled with a wonderful variety of plants|
|A patio in the center of the garden surrounded by low walls and potted plants|
|Taco de Chile Relleno, the best I've ever had|
While I was eating this they prepared my huarache. Tepoztlán's market is special for its prehispanic ingredients. Amaranth and Chapulin ( a type of roasted grasshopper), Flor de Calabaza (squash blossoms), Nopales (prickly pear pads), and Cuitlacoche (corn smut, a type of fungus that infects corn cobs) are commonly used and delicious.
My huarache was heaped with lovely squash blossoms, earthy corn smut, and mushrooms, with stringy Queso quesillo and garnished with avocado. It tasted incredible but was too much to eat so I finished it off for dinner later.
|Huarache cooking on the grill|
This would be a hugely popular gourmet dish back in the foodie city of Portland where I live.
|The beautiful vegetarian Huarache I returned to eat again and again|
|My favorite food stall in the Tepoztlán market|
|A menu of various Huaraches at my favorite food stall|
|Flore de Calabaza, Squash flowers have been cultivated in the region for over 10,000 years|
|Amazing patties made with Prehispanic ingredients. I wish I could buy these in Portland|
|Prehispanic foods prepared at El Cuatecomate|
|Prehispanic patties with sauces, and fresh Jugo de Maracuya (Passionfruit)|
|Beautiful produce on display in the Mercado|
|Black Chiles in the Mercado|
|Mandarinas, Naranjas, Tomates, Tomatillos, Papas, y Sandia|
|Nopales (Prickly Pear Cactus) and Agapanthus Flowers|
|Chicharones are a popular Mexican snack|
|Cabeza de Cabra is used in soups and tacos|
|La Portada de Semillas|
|La Portada de Semillas on Sunday market day|
|A Jaguar warrior costume|
|I wish I knew the stories so beautifully depicted in these murals|
|Plumeria and Philodendron in the gardens of the Ex-Convento|
|Vines growing on a tall lava stone wall that divides the Templo atrium from the garden of the Monastery|
|An outdoor amphitheater for conducting sermons to Indigenous peoples.|
|The interiors of the Ex-Convento are beautifully painted|
|Courtyard in the Ex-Convento|
|An simple but elegant arcade surrounds the upper floor around the courtyard|
|A secondary roof was constructed to prevent water damage to the Templo. Restoration work on the buildings began in 1993. The 1985 earthquake in Mexico City caused some damage to the structure.|
|A piñata hangs in an old Ash Tree in the Atrium garden of the Templo|
Before the Spanish arrived the region was inhabited by the Nahuatl people and was a ceremonial center believed to be the birthplace of Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl, the powerful feathered serpent that was worshiped throughout much of Mexico. You see magnificent representations of this diety on many prehispanic temples.
|Quetzalcoatl depicted on a pyramid at Teotehuacan|
|A modern depiction in a mural in Tepoztlán, with the utility pole painted to blend in.|
|A mural by the road leading to the path to the Pyramid of El Tepozteco|
|Montezuma Cypresses growing along Axitla Creek|
|The enormous trunk of the Montezuma Cypress at El Tule|
The path is made of stone, in some places looking like the original stairway ascending the hill. Its a steep but beautiful climb with vertical rock formations all around. We stopped and bought Tamarind Paletas (Popsicles) which seemed to miraculously give us the energy to carry on with renewed energy.
|A stone metate once used for grinding corn and seeds built in to the path|
|The Pyramid of El Tepozteco|
There are remnants of carvings representing 10 rabbits from a calendar and the name of Mexica ruler named Ahuitzotl with a date corresponding with the Gregorian year of 1509, the year that he died.
Someone had left two small slabs of stone with jaguars painted on them in offering.
|Jaguar offerings on the pyramid|
|The view of Tepoztlán from the pyramid|
|A stepped altar to the Virgin de Guadalupe and low walls made of lava rock.|
|Vine draped walls and Sanseverias|
|A lava rock paved street winds between high walls and boulders|
|Buckets and cans used as planters on top of a lava wall utilizing many textures of stones|
|Plastic buckets overflowing with succulents hang from tree branches|
|Colorful flowering plants in the Mercado|
|A magnificent staghorn fern mounted on a tree trunk|
There is a strong tradition of mural painting in Mexico. Tepoztlán is no exception. Many stuccoed walls are painted with facinating scenes relating to mythology, festivals, and traditions.
|A wonderful mixture of colors plays across this painting of a man singing|
|Political statements are a frequent subject of murals in Mexico|
|They still have pay phones in Mexico!|
|Dia de los Muertos|
|Dia de los Muertos|
|The crumbling gates to the cemetery, braced with timbers to keep it from collapsing|
|Graves in the Tepoztlán cemetery|
Thanks for reading, Jeffrey
|"I see your face in every flower"|
|Plastic bottles used as containers for cuttings, my Mom would have liked this|
|Stone slabs set on boulders provide seating across from a church|
|A nicely detailed driveway allows for permeability|
|Aliens at the gate|
|A carved cantera stone bowl set in to a wall on either side of an entry gate for birds to bathe in|
|Ficus nitida makes patterns on a white stucco wall|
|An tarot studio with a Moroccan theme across the street from where I was staying|
|Wooden bowls, cutting boards and rolling pins in the Mercado|
|Hanging pots decorate a wall in a parking lot|
|Adobe bricks with pebbles and brick shards in the mortar joints|
|Crosses and Montezuma Cypresses|
|A magnificent Montezuma Cypress along the creek|
|Virginia Creeper trailing down a multicolored stucco wall|
|A mural with the names of the formations in the mountains|
|A mural protesting a proposed golf resort development that was prevented|
|Tillandsias in the trees|
|A ramen noodle shop with a pleasant garden dining area|
|A nun selling votives in the park by the Ex-Convento|