Monday, February 24, 2014

Cholula, a Pyramid, and Some Bugs

Okay it is! The much anticipated (I know, you can all stop holding your breath) post about Cholula and the pyramid there. So, just a brief little background on the pyramid. *Disclaimer* Please remember, I'm not an expert on this subject or anything "Mexico", nor do I claim to be. Most of my facts were gathered from the interwebs and from the limited signage (that was poorly translated into English) at the site.


  • The Great Pyramid of Cholula's actual name is: Tlachihualtepetl. This is Nahuatl for "artificial mountain." 
  • It is the largest pyramid in the world, by volume, not height.
  • It is believed that it was built in homage to the god Quetzalcoatl.
  • It was built, and expanded, for thousands of years before the Spanish rolled into town. 
  • There were alters where children were sacrificed to appease the gods.
  • Once the Spanish rocked in, they built a church on top of the Pyramid.
  • There are more facts, but I'm challenging you, my faithful readers, to research for yourself. (And no, it's not cause I'm lazy and have other things to do today...nope, not at all.)
Here's a photographic journey on our trip to see some pretty old, pretty awe-inspiring stuff 10 minutes from our house!

First we walked in through the tunnels. This was a stairway that lead into further tunnels. 

This is the exact moment that I remembered that we live next to an active volcano...and sometimes there are earthquakes here. Awesome.

And then shortly after that, we saw this. The literal light at the end of the tunnel. That's Andy, fearlessly leading us through the lighted, grated, totally safe tunnels of an ancient pyramid. 

Back in the world of the living...or sunlight. What?! I'm not being dramatic about those tunnels...nope, not me. But seriously, this is what you see on the way to the church on top of the pyramid. 

This is the view from the church. Most of it is Puebla...and Cholula. The two cities are kinda smashed together. They are separated by major streets. Still trying to figure out which ones those are. (Hey, it's only been about two and a half weeks. I just mastered the art of pronouncing our local supermarket. It's all a learning process).

This is Cholula from the other side of the church. Stunning, huh?! To get views like this I'll let you imagine how steep the steps up there. No need for a Stairmaster for these folks.

Domes on the church. Trying to be artsy fartsy. Did it work?

Andy and me and the stunning city of Cholula. (Yes, Mom, I was wearing sunscreen).

This is what we could see from our vantage point in the previous picture. Not too shabby.

You can see the farming fields in the distance and the ruins of parts of the pyramid from the top by the church.

Santuario de la Virgin de los Remedios.

Bell towers and the cross as you come up the stairs. 

Full frontal of the church. (Wow...that just sounded too funny not to leave it just like that. Whoops!)

Here's what the church looks like from our "official parking lot." Upon further inspection it may not have been so official. But we had all of our car parts left when we came back, so we were happy with it. 

(Just a little side note, Andy and I both found it odd to marvel at the beauty, and man, was it beautiful, of the church knowing that it was built on another sacred site. I mean, it's the most obvious, blatant, form of oppressing another culture's beliefs that I've personally ever seen. So, although it was stunning, I know that I felt slightly like, "meh...this shouldn't be here." Again, this is just my personal feelings, not a comment on the Spanish, the Catholic church, or any one who may have a particular fondness in their heart for the church...on to more important things!)

I ate bugs! Yup, that's right...bugs, insects, larvae. In light of "keeping it real" I didn't eat the big crickets, I had the small larvae that were in my hand. But the man insisted it would make a better picture if we included the big guns. He was, he had conned gringas into doing this every day. Like it was his job or something. Weird.

Down the hatch they went! All three of those tiny little suckers. As my face may or may not indicate, they were actually not that bad. Kinda salty, maybe had some chile and lime seasoning. They were so, "not-so-bad" that I would eat them again. It should be noted that before we moved here I had heard about the bugs and had made up my mind that I would try them. Mission accomplished!

 Here's a pretty flower for those of you recovering from gagging at the last two pictures. See, I'm nice.

Part of the pyramid. I wish I could tell you which building it was from, but sadly I can't. The signage is very minimal, and there was a lot to take in all at once. 

A separate part of the pyramid, the two staircases and "launch pad", according to Andy. Also, in our travels, we have come to notice, and sometimes really appreciate, the lack of security at places like this. In the US, I feel like you could have seen the pyramid from very far away, on a bus, all controlled and informative. Here, there are some plastic ties that are used for newspaper binding the States, keeping you out of this ancient site. (Similarly, in Iceland, at Gulfoss, a massive waterfall, there are small, very low to the ground ropes that are there to keep you from going over the edge. In all actuality they might trip you and HELP you fall over the edge. But, I digress).

Some of the most exposed parts of the pyramid. And the church. 

An elephant looking sculpture found in the pyramid. Umm...there aren't elephants here in Mexico. (No, smart ass, not the ones at the zoo). Andy has his theories on these world sites...I'll let him explain it later...but I can lead you to a show, called "Ancient Aliens" on the Discovery Channel, that will begin to help you understand my love's theories on a few things. ;)

Stone head also uncovered in the pyramid. (Look like an alien head to anyone else?)

More pyramid stuff. (I edited out the small modern broom and trash bag at the bottom of the stairs...just didn't seem right to include them).

I think this is close to where they found the "Mural of Drinkers." It was a large mural that basically depicted a drunken orgy, to put it bluntly. You can't see it on the wall anymore, but the museum had a rendition of it.

You can start to see shells in the construction of the pyramid here. They they think they came from Veracruz, which is a few hours by car from Puebla.

I took a lot of pictures...bare with me, we are almost done. 

The stairs on the side of the Pyramid.

We climbed the stairs. This is the view from the top. Guess who decided to do squats for the first time in, oh, I don't know, six months the day we climbed these? That's right, this lady! Still sore.

Here's a face on the way into the museum. I think it is similar to those depicted on the "Mural of Drinkers." But really, I just liked it. 

After our epic, several stair climbs, we wandering into the town center of Cholula, and treated ourselves to some ice cream. Yummy!! Also, this part of Cholula is so stinkin' cute! The sidewalks are all smooth and orderly. Everything is painted like a rainbow (see picture). I can totally see why people move to Cholula, but I have to say, I'm happy with our decision to be here in Puebla. 

Okay, there you have it! If you come to visit us we will take you to see it in person!


  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing all the pics! I can't believe you ate bugs!

    1. Actually pretty yummy! Also, I would add that to my Apocalypse Team resume: "Look, shit's gonna go down, and food is gonna be scare...I can eat bugs so I'll be strong to fight those zombie a-holes." ;)