Cacaxtla (ca-cax-tla) is the name of ruins on the outskirts of the city of Tlaxcala (tlas-ca-la). I had heard a lot about the place and wanted to see the paintings which were still intact and were painted with the uncommon practice of drawing scenes of war on the floors.
I began the journey from Mexico city and bussed it out to Tlaxcala, the capital of the state by the same name.
I arrived in early afternoon and asked where the buses to Cacaxtla were.
“Take the bus to Apizaco,” I was told.
Thirty minutes later, I arrived in Apizaco and asked the same question.
“Take the bus from Tlaxcala.”
WTH? I just came from Tlaxcala.
To say I was a little peeved was saying little. I arrived, however, calmer than 30 minutes earlier, when I wanted to brain someone with a tea kettle.
I asked around again.
“Take the bus to Nativitas.”
Forty-five minutes later, the bus driver calls me to the front of the bus and tells me I had arrived.
“It’s over that hill over there,” he said before leaving.
I looked around. It was a lonely highway with about 10 houses on one side and houses and a hill on the other.
I ran up to a man on the street and asked if he knew the way.
“You go up the hill. Once you reach the white house, walk to the back of the house and take the highway to the left. You can’t miss it.”
So I climbed the hill, walked behind the white house and stopped 50 yards down the highway.
It went straight down to the base of the hill and curved off to the left. At the bend, there was a gate that led into a small valley. At the other end of the valley, on a hill, sat the ruins.
The highway went away from the ruins.
How the hell was I supposed to get there? I had come so far. It would be a waste to turn back now.
I walked to the gate and found it open and trudged through the valley for about 20 minutes when I finally got to a road. It lead straight to the ruin.
With all the setbacks and the wrong turns, it turned out that since the museum closed at 5:00 pm, I had 45 minutes to see everything. I rushed through the exhibition, snapped a couple of shots and was off. It was more or less an hour from dusk and knew that if I didn’t hurry, it would be harder to find my way.
As I walked along the road, I saw that it curved off to a series of eateries. But I wasn’t sure that it would lead me back to the white house so down into the valley I went. I was glad I wore my high leather boots. Smaller snakes would have a tough time biting through the boot sleeve.
By the time I got back to the highway where I was dropped off, street lights were coming on. About half an hour later, a bus appeared and the same bus driver who took me was just coming back.
“Did you get there alright?” he asked.
“I got there,” I replied.
Friends later remarked how dangerous that was for a woman, alone.
My momma didn’t raise no fool.