I would not have heard of this place if not for my Fodor’s guide – this location was marked with an orange star, i.e. a “must go”. It is a 5 hour drive away from Mexico City in the state of Puebla.
We passed the Popo and Itza volcanoes on the way and headed towards the Malinche volcano. Soon the dry landscape gave way to lush forests. As we climbed up the mountain roads, we entered ancient fern rain forests and with them the “niebla” (“fog”) wonderland. At some point the visibility on the road was about 10 feet only. The whole place appeared soaked and breathing, fogging the car mirrors.
The cabin we rented – Villas Cuetzalan – was literally above the clouds. From the patio I could see the mountain ranges separated by groups of airy cotton. There was also the sound of running water from somewhere below, beneath the clouds – a river. I have been to a rain forest before, but this one was a cold rain forest filled with ferns and no obvious living creatures (during the whole trip I saw one bird and one butterfly).
Next to Cuetzalan there are ruins of Yohualichan. It does at times seem that there are ruins everywhere in Mexico. However, these are unique in their own way, somehow cozy. It is a very small site with distinct wall pattern.
The last adventure on this trip was the Sunday market in Cuetzalan. I ate amazing fish and saw crabs being cooked. Too bad I was too full to eat more. The staples sold at this market are cinnamon and peppercorns.
Malysh was traveling with me this time – his first real road trip. Everything would have been great for him if not for the firecrackers that the local inhabitants shoot to celebrate Christmas (and most probably every other holiday). My dog, which I regarded as brave until this past weekend, spent a whole day under the bed of the cabin shaking every time a new firecracker popped about 10 kilometers away. I did convince him to go with us a on hike, during which I lost him once as he was hiding under a big fern when a whole grenade of firecrackers thundered near us. Strangely for me, he was glad to return to noisy, congested, and overwhelming Mexico City.