Mexico Day 4

Wednesday morning we packed up out stuff, checked out of the hotel and walked a couple blocks down the street to McDonald’s to eat breakfast and occupy the kids (Playplace) while Richard took a business call. I won’t lie, we eat at McDonald’s sometimes when we travel. It’s so cheap and easy. When Richard was finished with his call we climbed back into our noisy rental van and began the drive back to Mexico City. I knew that getting back would take longer than we thought, (this is true everywhere but especially in Mexico) and so I started off the day feeling a little stressed because there were a lot of things I wanted to stop and see and do.

Our first stop was La Antigua, the town where Hernan Cortez built his home after invading Mexico.

We had a great tour guide in La Antigua. He told us all about la casa de Cortes, gave us a walking tour of the town, and gave us some interesting historical background about the local people before and after Cortes. His English wasn’t perfect but Richard could fill in the gaps for the rest of us.

Our guide giving us a tour of the ruins of the house of Cortez, and describing the materials they used to build it.
Our guide told us that these tree roots and branches are actually keeping the structure up, without them the walls would be too weak, and the building would collapse.
They used coral from the sea to build the walls of the house.
Ruins of the buildings around Cortes’s mansion.
The banks of the Huitzilapan River used to come up to this tree, and this is where Cortes is said to have tied his boats. He built his house and two churches around 1519, and the town was inhabited by 200 Spaniards and over 600 African slaves.
Ermita del Rosario.
This small church is believed to be the first Christian church built in the Americas,
around 1523.

The town of Antigua was quiet and friendly. It was hot so we stopped for cold drinks at a little bodega, and then as we finished up our tour an old man sold us all ice cream that he scooped from tubs he pulled on a cart with his bicycle. I’m so sad I can’t remember the flavor but it was something none of us had ever had before, and it was delicious.

We stayed longer than we should have because our guide was eager to teach us, but we didn’t even have time to walk down to the river. There are never enough hours in the day to see and do all the things.

Our next stop was Orizaba, which was just a couple hours away, but it was up in the mountains and a completely different climate. We had tickets that night to see Mexican dancing with my mom, so we needed to be back to the CCM on time to pick her up and leave Amirah with the babysitter. When we got there I could see that we were really short on time, we still had a four hours left to Mexico City, but I really wanted to ride the tram up to the top of the mountain so we decided to go for it. We decided we had one hour to get some lunch and ride the tram.

We ate tacos and crepes for lunch and watched some animals while we waited for the food. Cameron isn’t a fan of heights and begged us not to go up the tram, so we let him stay behind.

The views inside the tram were amazing, it went high and it went fast. The lush green mountain was surrounded by fog and it was such a contrast to the hot and sunny desert where we’d spent the morning.

We only had a few minutes to spend at the top because we were in a hurry to catch the tram back down the mountain, but it was worth it. So beautiful.

It was hard not to let my stress get in the way of enjoying the experience. (This can probably be said of all parents while traveling with children.) But I’m glad we went. We rode the tram back down, reunited with Cameron, and got back on the road to Mexico City. I was nervous about traffic but the GPS was telling us we would get there in time.

On our way back we spotted a mountain with steam coming from the top of it, my first thought was that there was a fire but the kids insisted it was a volcano. I didn’t believe them. Ha! I was wrong. It was Popocateptl, an active volcano.

I started to get really stressed on the way back to Mexico City because my mom had gone to a lot of effort to coordinate the tickets and babysitting for Amirah and I knew she really wanted to come with us. Richard tried to reassure me, but then when we turned off the GPS to conserve phone battery we missed a turn-off that added 30 minutes to our already delayed arrival. At that point I was inconsolable. My mom decided the best chance we had to get there on time was if she stayed behind with Amirah and we left as soon as we dropped Amirah off. Moms are the best, and we made it to the ballet at the last possible moment before they closed the doors.

Palacio de Bellas Artes
Ballet de Folklorico de Mexico

The dancing was incredible. I couldn’t stop smiling, and after each performance I thought to myself “That was my favorite.” I wish I had handled the day differently, I wish my mom could have come with us. She had seen it before but it’s always fun to experience things together. Fortunately by the time we got back to the CCM and back to bed my heart rate had returned to normal.

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