Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Mexico: Day 5

by Kathy 8. May 2009 14:41

<< Day 4: Oaxaca; San Martin Tilcajete | Day 6: Oaxaca; Yagul and Teotitlán del Valle >>


Oaxaca; Santa Mariá el Tule and Hierve el Agua


Today was Easter. In addition to opening their grandparents’ cards/gifts that we had brought from home, Genevieve and Sebastian hunted for chocolate eggs, bunnies and other small treats in the hotel room.

Sebastian was geared up for a big adventure today:

First, we drove to the small town of Santa María el Tule, which is known for having a gigantic tree (a Montezuma cypress, aka Taxodium mucronatum) that is over 2000 years old; the tree has a circumference of more than 190 feet—purportedly the largest in the world. We were truly impressed by the tree’s magnificence. Here are Genevieve and Sebastian approaching the tree:

The tree is next to a beautiful church:

After paying a small admission fee, we were allowed to stand in front of the tree:

Many people find faces, animals and other things in the swirls and shapes of the tree bark:

We thought that the tree roots resembled large crocodiles:

We spent quite a bit of time looking at this beautiful massive tree and the many birds flying about in the branches. It appeared to be mating season, and we laughed at the spectacle of a few male birds that were doing "dances", staking out territory, and vying for the attention of one female bird. The children are avid tree climbers. The Tule tree has a fence around it and, of course, cannot be climbed. However, there were many other trees around to scamper up. Sebastian:


We then continued onward on a quest to find Hierve el Agua, a group of natural hot springs located about 1 ½ hours from Oaxaca. According to various articles we had read, there were two ways to get to the springs. However, the government was building a new road through this region, and the signs were missing and/or confusing. At one point, we ended up in a teeny-tiny village with a bad dirt road winding through it, leading off into the distance. We stopped and asked a man if we were going the right way, and he pointed in the direction we were going and said yes. So we continued onward. In the distance I could see this narrow dirt road zig-zagging up the mountain.

I said to Ben, "Well, THAT can’t be our road; maybe our road winds off to the right and goes around the mountain." In a few minutes, Genevieve piped up from the back seat, "Why is Mommy laughing?" Our small car was starting the ascent up the mountain on that series of steep switchbacks!

A view back down:

We had a very small (indeed, quite miniscule) car with a manual transmission, and Ben had to use first gear most of the way. It was very exciting, especially when we finally reached the top and started down on the other side. After a while, we could see some buildings down below (with red roofs) that did not look like part of a traditional "village", and we thought that they might be related to the hot springs.

We passed through the tiny town of San Isidro; here is the nicely decorated police station:

We finally arrived at the hot springs entrance. (Genevieve is feeling a bit carsick from our mountain adventure.)

I have to admit that I had envisioned the hot springs being in a more "natural" environment, with less commercial activity. However, there were a lot of Mexican families out enjoying the sunshine; other than four young European backpackers, we seemed to be the only foreign tourists. We ate lunch at this small café, and it was delicious.

We decided to have our first try of memelas (small tortillas with beans and cheese) and tlayudas (like a pizza with a crunchy tortilla, refried beans, Oaxacan cheese, meat, avocado, and chiles)—they were both simple but very tasty dishes, and I sought out tlayudas for the rest of the trip--yum.

After a 10-minute walk downhill, we arrived at the hot springs.  Archaeologists believe that nomadic people first used these springs about 2,400 years ago, and that from 420 B.C. to 1500 A.D., the people who occupied the surrounding land built and maintained a canal system for watering terraced crops. Nearby is a large petrified waterfall, which was formed over time from the calcium carbonate and magnesium in the water.

We felt the water and discovered that it had a definite cool, not hot, temperature. There were several pools of water, and the kids tried out a small pool first.

Then Genevieve tested out the depth of one of the large pools, where the views were wonderful.

And Sebastian joined her.

Genevieve did some "cannonball" jumps into the deeper end of the pool.

We hiked the uphill path back to the parking lot, tired but happy.

Cactus along the path:

We decided to take the "main" road to get out of the hot springs area. Here are some views of the passing scenery:

We never tired of looking at the beautiful bright colors:

Although the main road back was mostly paved, it took a lot longer, and we decided that we liked the narrow dirt switchbacks much much better. The children slept in the car for over an hour on the way back to Oaxaca.

In the evening, we strolled down to the zócalo to check out the sights. Sebastian:

We discovered these wonderful tall figures outside of a crafts market:

These clowns were providing the crowd with some laughs at the zócalo:

The on-stage music tonight was performed by a young rock band:

Our evening was topped off with a nice surprise. There was a small crafts market that we had to walk through every day when going to and from the hotel. Tonight, Genevieve and Sebastian stopped at one booth to look at the small carved wooden animals. A man came up to Ben, and they started talking. I was paying attention to the children, who were interested in one of the brightly colored wooden pigs. I overheard the man ask Ben where he was from, and then say that many people from his village lived near us in Santa Cruz. The man wrote his name and address down for Ben and invited us to visit him. Ben turned to me and showed me the card, and the man’s name was (drum roll please) Jacobo Angeles! I looked up at the man in amazement. I was so excited that my brain couldn’t think in Spanish, so I asked him if he spoke English. He said yes, so I rattled on (like a teenager meeting a rock star) about how I had read about him and his beautiful work, and how we had traveled to his village yesterday but were unable to find his studio, and how we had eaten lunch next to a store that carried his work, and how a woman in the store had drawn me a map showing how to get to his studio, and how we had planned to return to San Martin Tilcajete in two days to try to find him. Whew—I went through a lot of words in a very short time! Jacobo was exceptionally gracious; he took both of my hands, and said, "My house is your house." He gave us his phone number and said to call if we got lost, and he would escort us to his home. We promised to visit. We returned to the hotel marveling at our "chance" meeting with Jacobo and how the universal energy allows connections to happen.

<< Day 4: Oaxaca; San Martin Tilcajete | Day 6: Oaxaca; Yagul and Teotitlán del Valle >>

Back to Mexico Index Page

Back to Home Page



Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin