Chunk 3: Tamasopo & San Luis Potosí

Chunk 3: Tamasopo & San Luis Potosí

The saga continues…

Our next stop was Tamasopo, which is known for its “cascadas” or waterfalls. As with those falls at the beginning of our trip, I expected these to be somewhat remote. I was wrong! In Tamasopo, the waterfalls are right on the road, easily accessible by car, and surrounded by conveniences such as restaurants, shops and bathrooms.

At first, I was hesitant to go in the water. It wasn’t that warm, being January and all, but I decided it was worth it. I actually changed into my bathing suit in the car so I could partake of the water. Since I hadn’t planned to swim, I didn’t bring a towel. Fortunately, they sold those in the shop, along with inexpensive water shoes — necessary for walking on the rocky river bottom.

The water was perfect! We had a great time, even using the rope swing and jumping off the rocks nearby. There were other people there, of course, but not too many. One of the benefits of off-season travel.

The hotel we stayed in in Tamasopo was very nice. While the room wasn’t anything special, the grounds were lovely, and all the rooms looked out over a sprawling green space with large pools. There was a river close by, so you could actually hear the sound of the water cascading over the rocks.

I did have a problem in the hotel due to mold. My allergies had a lot more fun than I did! I reported it to the hotel so they could fix it. I imagine it is typical for a room with stone walls situated in a damp area.

We didn’t stay long here, just a day. By 4 p.m. we were back on the road heading for San Luis Potosí.

The Mountain Pass

A lot of this trip involved driving on windy mountain roads in the dark. This section of the journey was no different. What surprised me was the amount of traffic. I suspect that it was due to there being only one road connecting these areas. Sort of like going into one of the U.S. national parks. You just have to be patient (not my strong suit).

When we got into SLP it was dark, once again making finding things a bit of a struggle. Fortunately for us, I had booked a hotel right in the historic downtown of the city. Score! Of all the places we stayed, this was the most modern and comfortable. Naturally, it was also the most expensive. But who cares! Having a big comfy bed with a great comforter walking distance from everything was worth every penny!

SLP isn’t a very big city, so we were able to hit the highlights in one day. The only issue was that some places were closed because of King’s Day — January 6. This day is when families exchange Christmas gifts. There is another tradition, too, involving putting a small figure of the Christ child in a cake. The person who is served the piece with the figure is responsible for bringing or making tamales on 2 February. I like this tradition, even if, in retrospect, it seem a little canibalistic.

The night we arrived, we walked around the block to the main plaza where they were having a holiday light show. All I can say is, WOW. Amazing. I am attaching a short video for you. Basically they developed this show so that it blanketed the main cathedral. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Hundreds of people were just standing in the square watching.

Among the highlights of SLP was visiting a prison that has been converted to an art school and museum. It was technically closed to the public, but since the school was still open, the security guard allowed us to go in and look around. If anyone stopped us, we were to tell them that we were looking at applying to the school. Ha! The security guard was very knowledgeable about the history of the place. It was clear he appreciated our interest in it as well.

Centro de los Artes, San Luis Potosí.

Floor plan Centro de los Artes.
The inside of the buildings are used for classrooms and galleries.
One of the sculpture gardens between the buildings.

We pretty much walked the length of the city and back along the main boulevard, stopping to investigate the street vendors and churches along the way.

Next stop — Dolores Hidalgo & Guanajuato.

Chunk 2: Xilitla & Hotel Tapasoli

Chunk 2: Xilitla & Hotel Tapasoli

Ok, since I have a little time, I’m going to fill in the blanks about my winter vacation. As you know, one of the teachers (Jodi) from the TEFL program in Puerto Vallarta come to visit us in Querétaro. She and I took a driving vacation to some of the most amazing places. Here’s where we started:

The Road to Xilitla & Hotel Taposoli

A little map to help you see where we went!

Jodi ran into some travel problems right off the bat. There was some kind of weather problem in Mexico city and she was unable to leave on the day she planned. She wasn’t alone. Quite a few tourists were also stranded. Of course, she at least could go home and try again the following day.

Once again, however, there were problems with the flights–delays, cancelations, etc. — so I took it on myself to see what I could do. Ultimately, I was able to find her a flight that eliminated having to go through Mexico City, but it meant she would have to spend the night in Guadalajara and leave first thing in the morning.

Since she was now delayed by two days, our new plans involved leaving for Xilitla immediately from the airport.

Jodi Donna Road to Xilitla
Photo op!

The road to Xilitla was long — about 4 hours plus some time for photos and food. It was a little nerve-wracking for me to drive into the Mexican countryside. This country has a bad reputation when it comes to traveling in certain areas. Fortunately for us, we were heading into a very popular vacation area in the mountains.

Delicious Margarita

If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought we were driving around some areas of the west, particularly in Idaho, where the elevation reduces the amount of tall trees. It was a perfect day to drive, and we made very good time, stopping only a few times to take photos.

A beautiful lookout. Unfortunately, it was not well maintained. What you can’t see in the photo is that, behind the cross & building, people have used this spot to dump garbage.

We did stop in one small town for a bite to eat. Wow. I can honestly say it was the best meal we had on the trip.

Restaurant Carretas

Amazing seafood, especially considering it is about as far away from the ocean as possible! The margaritas were also spectacular. I hope I get to visit this place again sometime.

 

View of the valley from the cross overlook.

 

Strategic Choices

When we planned the trip, we decided to stay in “interesting” hotels wherever possible. We were not disappointed. In Xilitla, we chose Hotel Tapasoli. The photos made it look like a visit to Hobbiton. We weren’t disappointed! While we didn’t stay in one of the hobbit houses, we still had an amazing stay.

Hotel Tapasoli
One of the “hobbit house” rooms at Hotel Tapasoli

We met a couple of nice people in the parking lot that invited us to see there hobbit room, which was right on the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view of the valley. There was another couple there too, enjoying the view over a glass of wine or two. We were invited to join the gang. Of course, we had brought some wine on the trip with us, so we added it to the festivities.

Hotel Tapasoli Breakfast
Breakfast with Alfredo and Evie

The couple we met were very from San Luis Potosí, a small city that was on our “to do” list for the trip. Of course, we talked about places to go, people to see, and politics. Alfredo’s English was excellent, so the conversation was quite animated. He and Jodi got into it over Trump. I tried to stay neutral and calmer, but watching the exchange was very entertaining.

The following day, we met them again at the hotel restaurant — a lovely deck with a great view. The food was amazing! I had chilaquiles, the local breakfast choice. It is a combination of tortilla chips, eggs, beans, rice and whatever else you want, with red or green salsa. It is hard to describe, but absolutely delicious!

Chilaquiles

After breakfast, we headed to Jardín Escultorio de Eduard James, a famous sculpture garden in the jungle. Of course, google and apple maps both failed me in the GPS area. We managed to get a little lost, but not too badly. After all, as in most mountain towns, there is only one main road. Once you find that, you’re golden.

The Jardín is amazing! Acres and acres of amazing buildings and sculptures designed just for this place. Lots of steps, though, so if you have bad knees, you may want to just buy a photo book.

I did buy a few things here: a T-shirt for Lyn and a small, hanging parrot for our new house.

 

Jardín Escultorio de Edward James
Jodi in the Jardín Escultoria de Edward James

We ended the day by heading to our next venue — Tamasopo — where we were looking forward to experiencing the amazing blue waterfalls. Stay tuned. We’ll cover that in Chunk 3.