Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stepping Back in Time Near San Miguel de Allende

It has been hotter than usual in San Miguel de Allende, or so locals tell us. The thermometer hit 90 and hovered in the high 80s all week. Humidity remains low.

Last night a brief hailstorm and thunder energized pedestrians and cooled the air. This morning the intense sun again greeted us.

Hail, thunder, fierce sun, aching muscles do not prevent hub and I from experiencing more of San Miguel and its environs.

A trip to Canada de la Virgin Pyramids outside town found us huffing and puffing up a long mountain road alongside a group of university students. 

Canada de la Virgin refers to the Spanish name for the area. The original inhabitants worshipped the sun, moon, and Venus (the planet), and called the place Panuco.

We left town with our guide, drove to the visitors center and entrance to the ancient site, then boarded a bus, driving seven additional miles to the real entry point. A newly built, wide stone road zig-zagging up the mountain greeted us. I have no idea why the bus could not continue along the road and drop us off at the top. Some sort of dark Mexican humor... 

It was hot, mid-morning, and the pyramids nowhere in site. The kids bounded off the bus and proceeded up the hill.

We followed rather sluggishly. The kids seemed unaware of the arduousness of the uphill jaunt. Along the way a rest stop earned our gratitude, a covered patio with benches for the weary. The kids stopped a few minutes, hub and I (and our guide) a few minutes longer. We did not have to keep up with the younger generation, but did not want to appear too old and decrepit.

Hub and I resting in the shade before climbing the pyramid.

At the top of the mountain the pyramids rose before us. The site opened to the public five years ago and is a work in progress. Most of the pyramids remain unexcavated, marked today by large stones and posters indicating their size, shape, and function. 

I climbed the one excavated pyramid, proud of myself. I am not one for heights. The last one to reach the top of one section, the others started climbing down the other side. The steps were so narrow and steep you could not see them from the platform - unless leaning over the edge. A folding chair discretely sat in a corner. Obviously a lot of people were exhausted upon reaching the top and/or refused to climb down the other side and sat, waiting for their companions to complete their journey.

I sat down, not wanting to navigate the seemingly treacherous steps. But as the kids, hub, and the tour guide descended, I realized I would never live down the fact I could not walk down. So I did.

The descent ended in a large interior courtyard surrounded by the pyramid. Walking across the grassy complex, I trudged up the other side, the best place to view the countryside. High desert country, deep canyons, wild grasses, and a variety of cactus filled the landscape. I never knew cactus grew like trees, with woody trunks, tall, wide and very green.

I wonder how people found this place and why they settled in this (or any other) particular spot. The people settling these plateaus wandered for centuries, carrying the venerated remains of an ancient king, finally burying them in this spot. The remains date to approximately 1700 B.C. The pyramids were constructed between 400 and 1000 A.D.

Archeologists are not definite which ancient people built the pyramids, but believe it was the Toltecs, a civilization preceding the Aztecs, the ones the Spanish conquered.

Returning to the visitor's center, hub and I were tired, sweating and ready to rest our weary legs. The kids, on the other hand, appeared barely to break a sweat. 

We gratefully crumpled into the car and headed home. 


  1. It is wonderful to travel. Thank you for sharing this most interesting trip.

  2. You reminded me of my own visits to pyramids where you climb up but from the top you cannot see the steps at all, they are so narrow and steep. Very scary to descend, but I did it as well. Most of the popular ones now have a chain link guard rail to hold onto. What a fun time you're having! :-)

  3. Sounds like a fascinating trip ... but I'm with you on those stairs!