I’d considered not attempting the journey to this site. A bus to the nearest town, Cuernavaca, was no problem, but from there onwards it all sounded rather difficult from what I’d read online. On one forum someone recounted two failed attempts to get there after failing to find the fabled local bus out to the site. Others recounted a long uphill walk from the nearest main road after getting a passing bus to drop them off. Compared to these, I did surprisingly well. I was indeed dropped off at the road junction by a bus that a nice English speaking man working at the bus terminal put me on, but I was spared a long walk up in the hot sun when I waved down a passing taxi. He already had two passengers who were going part of the way and they agreed to let me join them. He didn’t even rip me off – or at least if he did, I didn’t notice – I felt it was worth £1.30 of anyone’s money.
The visit starts at a modern, cleanly designed museum slightly down hill of the site, where I loved the character in these carved stone skulls.
Xochicalco is a fortified hilltop complex of temples, ball courts, ceremonial, residential and administrative buildings occupied between 650 and 900. It is well preserved and also beautifully kept and tri-lingually interpreted – a real pleasure to visit. A noisy school group were just leaving when I arrived and after that it was very peaceful – I doubt there were more than about fifteen other visitors all afternoon.
At the centre on the highest terrace is the Pyramid of the Plumed Serpant, with some great carving on the outside although the mortar lines should give it away that this has been rebuilt from the pile of stones originally found. There are a lot of other, plain, structures (it wasn’t clear if like at Teotihuacan they were once frescoed) and I chose this simple on for my Lego model.
When I left the site around four in the afternoon I rather pathetically hoped there might be a taxi driver just hanging around. There was not. But just as I was resigning myself to the long walk back to the main road, the men on the gate asked where I was going and told me there would be a bus back to Cuernavaca along shortly. And sure enough there was. It was very rattly and took ages but it did exist. When we got into town the driver even directed me to another bus which would take me in the direction of the terminal for coaches back to Mexico City. I did have to ask for directions twice during the walk from that last bus stop but I did make it back, complete with a smug feeling of having bested the transport system despite my limited and badly pronounced Spanish.