Mexico 9: One, Two, Three

“Calimaya to Olinalá”

After several days in Toluca, reassembling Kevin’s bike, we finally bid farewell to our wonderful, and oh so patient, “warmshowers” hosts and rolled out of town …one, two, three cyclists this time. We rode for most of the afternoon through the suburbs of Toluca before turning onto a small dirt road where we found camping for the night.

It wasn’t the most scenic spot, nestled in between discarded corncobs and poison ivy debris, but it was out of view of the road so we called it home for the night. The evening light brought an assortment of lively sounds, birds, insects, bats, and I think a skunk even passed through during the night.

A short day, and little hike-a-bike, brought us to Malinalco. We toured the town, and took the next day off to visit the Aztec ruins above the city.

…and of course, we never miss a good coffee shop.


High above the town of Malinalco on the hike up to see the Aztec ruins…


Cuauhtinchan [Cuauhcalli (Malinalco)], one of the largest monolithic carvings in the world (the others being in Egypt & Jordan, according to the sign on site). Malinalco was a sacred ritual site of the eagle and jaguar warriors.

The temple of Cuauhtichan, carved into solid bedrock.

Jaguar pelt and another creature, carved into the bedrock inside the temple.

More rooms around the corner from the main temple.


Looking up towards Cuauhtichan from our hotel in Malinalco.

From Malinalco we had an easy ride to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, where we camped and spent the next day checking out the caves.


This bright green frog was hiding out in the restroom at the camping area.


One of the lower caves along the river…


The main cave, Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, is lit along a ~2 km walkway. Our tour guide stopped periodically to point out features that looked like bottles, saints, animals, and famous people.


According to our tour guide, this cave feature (shaped like a bottle) was used in a Corona commercial in the ’70’s.


Outside the cave entrance. I’m not sure what these are, other than some kind of fruit, but we’ve been seeing them growing along the roadsides lately.


Tropical fruit has become abundant, especially these little mangos.


After leaving Grutas de Cacahuamilpa Park we took a detour to Puente de Ixtla, where we spent a week while Kevin wrapped up some unfinished business in New York.


Corn, left to dry on the stalks…


Fields of sugarcane…



The market in Puente de Ixtla


After a very long eight days, hanging out in Puente de Ixlta, we finally headed back on route…

The easy part, before the grueling hike-a-bike up into those hills…


After a long, and grueling climb back toward the highway, an easy dirt road led us to a sweet little campsite nestled in the bushes, with plenty of cover to keep the tents out of sight. As the sun set, the cicadas shrieked so loud it sounded like wild beasts and ptarodactalyls had risen from the dead. We woke early to try to get up the next climb before the midday temps rose to 40°C.

We stopped in the small town of Chaucingo for more supplies, and a few tacos. One of the men in the town chatted us up for quite a while, then insisted on paying for our tacos. We thanked him and tried to decline, but the lady who ran the stand wouldn’t take our money. Clouds rolled in just in time to cool (just a tiny bit, but enough) our hike-a-bike climb out of town. It was slow going, but we made it to the next town by late afternoon. It was all downhill to Altenango del Rio so we decided to push into the evening to make it to a hotel (with air conditioning).

We had a lazy morning, followed by a short ride into Papalutla, where clear pools of warm spring water washed away our woes from the hot climb to get there.

We spent one night in the Cabañas in Papalutla before beginning the ~4000 foot climb, with a total of ~8000 feet including all the downs and ups, to Olinalá.


Outside the tienda in Papalutla..,


Starting the climb …full sun ahead!


The sun baked hills have been greening up now that the rainy season has started.

While the guys stopped for a snack I decided to press on. With all the late starts, and not making as many miles as we had been riding, I was determined to not climb another big mountain in the heat of the day. Thankfully the first part of the climb was shaded by the road cut, but the sun was in full force the higher I climbed.


Looking down on the windy (curvy) road …you can just make out the guys in the middle of the road.

I made it to the top of the main climb, by mid afternoon, where I stopped to wait for the guys. But the guys had stopped and waited in the town before the top, Xixila, just a few kilometers away. After a couple of hours, and fading daylight hours, with no sign of the guys, I decided to press on into Olinalá. Even late in the day the sun was fierce. As I rode on, the clouds rumbled, finally bringing a cooling, refreshing, drizzle of rain. I packed my camera away, put on my rain jacket, and rode into Olinalá, smiling and saying buenas tardes to everyone I passed. Heads turned at the lone, giant, female rider as I entered town. I pulled into the hotel feeling strong, and at least a foot taller than anyone else. I asked for a room on the ground floor (planta baja), hesitating for a moment, as I wondered about creepy-crawlies, but the thought of carrying my bike up a flight of stairs after such a long day sounded worse, so ground floor it was. After settling into my room, and just about to enter the shower, a tiny squiggle on the bathroom door caught my eye. It was a small, dark-colored, scorpion. I looked at it and said, “You’re probably the super poisonous kind since you’re tiny, just like our bark scorpions at home in Arizona, but somehow I find you comforting in your familiarity. But even still, there’s no way I can sleep with you in here.” After an unpleasant slaughter, I continued with my shower, then fell fast asleep.

The guys spent the night in Xixila, making it in to Olinalá the next day. We spent the day in town relaxing and recovering from the big climb.


Another interesting looking tropical fruit. These were growing at our hotel in Olinalá, but I have since seen them for sale in street markets.


Clothing store in Olinalá, with bicycle mural…


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