photo: Gary Chiappetta
Tepoztlán in the New York Times Travel Section
FROM my hotel window on my first morning in Tepoztlán, I took in the soaring volcanic peaks where Quetzalcóatl, the brilliantly plumed Aztec dragon god, is said to have been born. In the blue-green valley that is part of this central Mexico town stood a 16th-century cathedral with ivory-colored spires. To the left, the sun was rising over the broad cliff wall of Sierra del Tepozteco, striated with spectacular sandstone eaves upon which an ancient temple was perched, and which appeared and disappeared behind the drifting morning fog...
Seventy kilometers southwest of Mexico City in the gnarled foothills of the great snow-capped volcanoes, the hilltop village of Tepoztlán is famous for its intoxicating air, its cobbled streets, its walled adobe houses draped in bougainvillea, and its unusual fidelity to pre-Columbian traditions, reflected today in near-constant processions, celebrations, feasts and fiestas. The people of Tepoztlán are descended from the Tlahuica inhabitants of the fertile valley that leads toward nearby Cuernavaca and were known before the Spanish Conquest for the purity of their spoken Nahuatl--the hushed, poetic language still spoken in the surrounding villages and south to the Pacific Coast--as well as for their ability as scribes. The local museum has numerous artifacts that bear witness to Tepoztlán's role as a center for producing amate, the paper on which pre-Hispanic history was told in images that mesmerized the conquerors. To this day, the oral traditions of that culture survive in legends handed down from generation to generation, told now in Spanish, though a few much-interviewed old people can still recite the ancient poems in Nahuatl. Their sense of continuity with the past gives the Tepoztecans their deep sense of identity and the courage to resist near-constant attempts to turn the village into a resort. Their defeat of a proposed golf complex (the so-called "Golf War") made international headlines in the mid-1990's and has inspired communities elsewhere in Mexico.
Once a three-day excursion from Mexico City by mule, Tepoztlán
is now an easy one-hour ride from the capital on a highway that
rises through cool forests before opening out onto the immense mountain-ringed
valley of Cuernavaca, in which the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl
seem to float unattached to earth or sky. Though still used as
a set for movies that require the perfect Mexican square with marketplace
and men in spurs and cowboy hats, Tepoztlán has grown into
a bustling town that draws weekenders from the capital eager to
escape the pollution and crowds of Mexico City. Most stay only
for the day, wandering the streets for a taste of rural Mexico,
visiting the 16th century Dominican cathedral, shopping in the crafts
market or climbing to the 14th century pyramid atop the Tepozteco.
There are restaurants for every budget, and markets stalls known
throughout the country for their exquisite handthrown tortillas.
Tepoztlán is also an ideal base from which to study Spanish. For those wishing to enroll in customized classes while in Mexico, we highly recommend Cemanahuac, a Cuernavaca-based school whose flexible program allows students to begin each Monday. Cemanahuac can arrange homestays with local families or other accommodations for Cocinar Mexicano participants either before, during or after our workshop. You may contact them directly: email@example.com. Be sure to mention that you are registered for Cocinar Mexicano. We can also arrange private lessons for you in the village.
Participants in our village sessions may choose from an array of housing options, depending on availability. Rooms are filled on a first come, first-served basis, so be sure to let us know your choice as soon as you apply. Those preferring a central location will want to stay in the beautifully appointed Posada del Tepozteco, a vintage Mexican hotel two streets up from the main square, with terraced gardens and patios that enjoy a spectacular view of the valley all the way to Cuernavaca. The Posada has an outdoor swimming pool, a small spa, a full-service bar, and an attractive restaurant where we will enjoy one of our first meals together as a group. Casa Bugambilia is an intimate resort located in the lush valley that opens up east of the village, with its own small restaurant, beautiful common rooms, an exquisite outdoor pool and stunning views of the surrounding hills. We also highly recommend Las Golondrinas, a European-style luxury bed & breakfast in a quiet hamlet a short taxi ride from Tepoztlán, with three tastefully furnished rooms, each with private bath, and ample common spaces that overlook the owner's private garden and afford a taste of home away from home. Las Golondrinas also has an outdoor pool, and the owner can arrange for spa treatments on the premises.
Travelers wishing all the comforts of home in a stunning mountainside retreat may prefer to rent Hacienda Clemente Jacques, a private villa available by the week.
For those on a more limited budget, we offer a range of other options, from homestays at $US $35/night to rooms in small hotels within walking distance of the village square ($35-$70/night, depending on the room and the hotel). Participants are responsible for finalizing their own bookings and for all costs associated with their accommodation while in Tepoztlán, but we will make initial inquiries on your behalf. Please email us for further information.
We will make every effort to accommodate individual needs and personalities in making room assignments. If you are planning to attend with someone else, please let us know (see application form). Please use the open space on the application form to inform us of any special needs we should be aware of, or send us an email.
Those who know Spanish will find an abundance of information about Tepoztlán at
© Cocinar Mexicano 2012
or call us at 212 655 4432
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