This past week, we drove three hours from Mexico City to the rugged, extremely steep, and puzzling city of Taxco. It’s got 100,000 people, and they all live on the side of a mountain in homes straight out of an Escher painting. Because of the incredibly narrow streets and complete lack of sidewalks, there is perhaps no place in the world where the driving is more difficult, and Brendan endured it well. We saw at least two accidents while we were there. (Tip #1: If you don’t need to drive there, don’t.)
The town prides itself on its silver production and jewelry designs. It also seemed deeply religious when we visited during the Dia de Guadalupe holiday. Residents trekked to a hillside church, with the little boys dressed as Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, and the little girls decked out in Virgen de Guadalupe outfits. (The holiday commemorates the day in 1531 when Juan, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, saw an apparition of a dark-skinned virgin during a stroll north of Mexico City.) In modern times, unfortunately, the celebration includes ’round-the-clock fireworks.
Take a look:
Although I didn’t like the blasts at 1 a.m., Taxco did have a unique fireworks setup that made me feel like I was in Mexico 100 years ago. The explosives are set up on tall structures called castillos de luces (castles of lights), and when the pinata-like fireworks are lit, they spin rapidly and then shoot sparks wildly into the air. The kids ooh and aah.
We also spent a day of our vacation hiking to a nearby waterfall called Cacalotenango. After a mountain drive, we parked in the front yard of a local family who lived near the entrance to the trail. The family’s 12-year-old daughter, Rosario, volunteered to be our guide up the steep path to la cascada. Her two dogs also came along for the 30-minute hike. All three of them put me to shame, fitness-wise. The little white fuzz at the head of the trail in the picture below is Rosario’s dog, Rulfo. (Tip #2: You’ll need the help of a local to find your way out of Taxco and to this waterfall up in the nearby mountains.)
Most of the waterfall (I nearly caused Brendan to veer off the road when I first spotted this from the highway and began gesturing wildly):
And the lower portion of the waterfall:
While Taxco was lovely, it’s also somewhat geared to tourists, which always is kind of a bummer for those of us who consider ourselves “independent travelers.” As always, we had our most fun when we ventured off to places the guidebooks didn’t mention.