Wednesday, September 30, 2020


 March 18, 2018

After our three days in the Villahermosa area, we flew back to Mexico City and took an Uber back to the Maria Cristina Hotel, the same place we had stayed in before going on our side trip, arriving after midnight.

Arnold Pedroza picked us up the following morning for a trip south.

Our first stop was the city of Heujotzingo, population about 60,000 and best known for the Franciscan monastery San Miguel Arcangel, founded in 1525. San Miguel Arcangel, whom we know as the Archangel Michael, is the patron saint of the city and vicinity. This building, finished in 1570, was the third one built on this site and is one of the fourteen monasteries around the base of the volcano Popocatepetl that together have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can see the monasteries marked on the map below. Heujotzingo/San Miguel Arcangel is in the top right quadrant.

UNESCO Monasteries in Mexico

The monastery is almost 450 years old--that is a long time for a brick structure to survive in earthquake country. One article I read about the monastery complex noted that it was in great shape and had never been severely damaged by any of the frequent earthquakes in the area. I'm guessing that either that article has not been updated since the 7.1 earthquake that hit just south of Huejotzingo in 2017, or the author of the article didn't consider the damage done by the earthquake to be very significant.

We did notice there was scaffolding holding up the main entrance.

Certainly the walls of the main church that anchors the monastery were still standing, and there didn't seem to be danger of the building collapsing, but it was closed to tourists and worshipers alike when we visited, with a large tent spanning the walkway serving as the temporary chapel.
San Miguel Arcangel Monastery

This beautifully carved sandstone cross with a base of a crown of thorns stands at the entrance to the temporary sanctuary, denoting a sacred space. 
San Miguel Arcangel Monastery

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


March 17, 2018

We started our last day in Villahermosa by seeing a few of the local sites of the city with our friends. One of the places they took us was the Mexico Villahermosa LDS Temple, built in 1999-2000.  The LDS Church tries to draw from local architecture in designing temples, and that is certainly apparent here.

LDS Villahermosa Temple

There were lots of church members milling about, including families (or maybe a youth group) having picnics.

It was fun to be there with our friends, who were somewhat of local celebrities among church members. Everyone wanted them to take their picture or be in a picture with them. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020


March 16, 2018

On our second full day in Villahermosa, our friends picked us up for a 90-mile drive to what in my opinion is the best of all the Latin American pre-Columbian sites: Palenque. Well, at least it is the best of the ones I have seen. I had been there in 1979, and I remembered that walking around it felt like walking in a movie set (which is a little strange--something real feeling like something fictional). 

The walk between the parking lot and the ruins was lined with vendors, which was good because Bob really needed a hat. We were facing another day of almost 100° weather and over 90% humidity. A hat won't help with the humidity, but a little shade on the head is a good thing, and this shopkeeper seemed especially happy to make the sale.

Tropical climate makes for bodily misery, but it also creates a beautiful setting.

The region was first inhabited by Mayans in about 200 BC, with Palenque's glory days beginning at about 200 AD when it was a power center that ruled over the region. For unknown reasons, Palenque was abandoned by its residents in 900 AD, leaving its temples, palaces, and homes to be gobbled up by the hungry jungle.

The first "modern" account of the city was published in 1567 by Father Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, the Spaniard who initially ran across the ruins and named them "Palenque," or "fortification" in Spanish. No more official visits were made until the late 18th century. Many archaeologists visited the area throughout the 19th century, but it wasn't until 1891 that the first excavations and restorations began.  Palenque was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is now one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.

The restored section of Palenque covers about a square mile, but it is estimated that only a tenth of the city has been uncovered and that there are more than a thousand buildings still enveloped by heavy jungle growth, waiting to be excavated. 
Palenque map

Thursday, September 10, 2020


March 15, 2018

On the evening of March 14, after having spent the day at the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the pyramids of Teotihuacan, we caught a flight from Mexico City to Villahermosa to visit some friends who were serving as as the head of the LDS Mexico Villahermosa Mission of our church.

This large map shows the location of both Mexico City and Villahermosa in the context of the country of Mexico.

Zooming in, you can see that the flight time is about 15% of the driving time. Local flights are cheap (although more than the $16 noted on the map below), so it was a no-brainer to fly.

We were met at the airport by our friends and posed for a picture in the same spot they took photos with newly arriving missionaries. 

We picked up a rental car and then went to dinner together at Tacos de la Estancia before heading off for a good night's sleep at the Hampton Inn Villahermosa.

In the morning we made our way to the Mission Office, located next door to the church building that serves the LDS Villahermosa Stake.

The Mexico Villahermosa Mission covers a large area, with one finger reaching all the way down to Guatemala.

Our friends were putting on a conference for the missionaries (which included lunch), and it was fun to see them in action.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


While we were in Mexico, we had three meals that really stood out, two in Mexico City and one in Taxco. I thought the meals were unique enough to merit their own post.

Friday, March 9, 2018
Mexico City: El Hidalguense

Bob selected this restaurant when he was researching places to go prior to our trip. He was captivated by the idea of lamb barbacoa, the restaurant's specialty. Sheep are a definite theme of the decor as well as the menu.

The name is a variation of the word "Hidalgo," the state located just north of the Mexico City area. I think that means the food served here is the local cuisine of that area.

The restaurant has a classy interior.

But what caught my eye was this line-up of large glass jars of fruit juice. I would loved to have gone down the row and tasted each one.

We did try three of them: full glasses of strawberry-guava (incredibly good), and samples of not-as-good pineapple and guanabana (aka soursop) juice.