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Thu Jan 10 2013: Aliens and Virgens in Tapalpa

While we were at Germania BMW in Guadalajara last week getting our bikes serviced, the service technicians gave us some great ideas on places to ride around. One of them told us that local bikers ride up a twisty road to Tapalpa for the weekends and hang out there. When we found out that Tapalpa was also a Pueblo Magico, well that sealed the deal!

Riding the cobblestone streets of Tapalpa

Tapalpa is about a two-hour ride from Guadalajara. The road winds up the Tapalpa mountain range, and the temperature drops precipitously into single digits (C) as we reach the mountainside town early in the evening. Tapalpa is known for woodworking and a lot of the architecture features nice wood finishes to doorways and arches. We spent some time walking around the town square just outside the San Antonio Parish, the main church in Tapalpa.

Disapproving look at my parking job?

I thought this nice old lady said she'd watch our bikes while we walked around town.
Neda says to me, "Wow, your Spanish really sucks, cause she just threw a bunch of swear words at you...

Birds fly (Whisper to a scream)

Statue outside the church heralds the sunset

We ordered tamale de acerga (swiss chard), typical for this region

Bells and crosses dot the skyline

Shortly after sunset, we watched as a crowd of people started lining the streets outside the church. Then a huge processions of dancers, musicians and paraders made a giant circle around the town square. This lasted a whole hour and I was sorry that I didn't have my camera on-hand to take pictures. The waitress at our restaurant told us not to worry, this would happen every night - it was a 9-day festival honouring the Virgen de Guadalupe, and pilgrims from all over slowly make their way to Tapalpa. This fiesta happens every night for 9 days!

Felipe, our Spanish teacher in La Paz, told us that Mexicans *LOVE* their festivals and parties. There seem to be more national holidays than working days, which affects productivity somewhat...

There were several marching bands with brass instruments
and also these musicians with fiddles

Then the Aztecs came out, managed to get them still for a picture

A flurry of feathers and headdresses as everyone lined up to go into church after the parade

Fireworks shot up at the end of the parade and kept on going well into the early morning

Walking back from the fiesta

The back streets of Tapalpa are quiet. Most of the residents and pilgirims are still at the plaza outside the church celebrating. Our walk back to our casa is punctuated by the pop of fireworks amidst the distant sounds of a marching band playing well into the night. We love being here in Mexico!

As recommended to me, I had Tacos de Tripita (fried tripe). New favorite taco!!!

There is music everywhere in Mexico. One of the things I *LOVE* about this place!

And of course, lots of shopping for Neda

Not an original idea. I saw little kids doing this last night. Hmm... maybe I shouldn't have admitted to that...

Visitors are not allowed up here, but we sweet-talked our way up the church tower.
By sweet-talk, I mean begged. And we also gave a donation to the church as well...

There was an old radio program I used to listen to when I was a kid. It was a late-night program and I wasn't supposed to be up that late, so I would be under the covers in bed with my old transistor radio. I can't recall the name, but it was a Twilight Zone-like show. One of the episodes had the main character climb up a tower, and since he was afraid of enclosed spaces, he counted the steps till he reached the top, to occupy his mind. When he descended, he again counted steps down but to his horror, the number kept on increasing past the number of steps he climbed up!

Every time I climb stairs, I remember that radio program...

I *SO* wanted to ring the bells and yell out to Tapalpa, "DINNERTIME!!!!"
Perhaps that's why they don't let people up here...

Inside of San Antonio Parish Church

View of the town square from the church tower

We haven't been getting a lot of exercise ever since arriving in Mexico. And on top of that, we've been eating really badly as well. So Neda found a great place to hike around, just outside of Tapalpa. Las Piedrotas are a set of huge boulders sitting in an empty field. Nobody knows how they got there since there doesn't seem to be any mountains immediately in the area, the field is just bounded by forests. It's speculated that aliens moved them. Really hard-working aliens that don't fiesta 200 days out of the year...

Jumping is exercise, right?

Climbing Las Piedrotas

Unrealistic expectations

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