One of my favorite things about Milpa Alta and why I could spend months there is I genuinely enjoy a nice car ride around the countryside.
Milpa Alta is the best of Mexico City for offering that.
Just get in a car. Ride fast down the roads. See the countryside. Have cool music playing in the radio. Make a friend with a taxi driver. See whatever the fuck is out there. And only spend like 5 to 7 bucks an hour.
Seriously. It's only 5 to 7 bucks per hour for their time and labor.
Basically slave labor at that point.
"Work for me, bitch. Work for 5 dollars an hour. I own you"
Crazy as fuck cheap.
Now excuse me as I drop one of those gringo obligatory statements of "wow, Mexico is so cheap. OMGGGG"
Great. Got that out of the way.
Shall we move on?
Not long ago, I had one of those cheap 5 dollar an hour rides.
And it was magical.
Let's get to it.
Villa Milpa Alta to the Countryside
As I wrote here, I visited a volcano in Milpa Alta known as Teuhtli.
You can read more about that experience in that article there as it goes along with the story here today.
To keep it short, trying to climb it from the Milpa Alta side didn't work too well and I got back in the taxi.
Here's a few photos of the ride over to the volcano.
Here's a few photos of the Milpa Alta side.
It was still a very nice hike with great views of Milpa Alta.
And I enjoyed the physical exercise of it (even if slipping every 3 seconds was annoying as fuck).
Figuring we could find a better route to the top, I led my taxi driver to some road called Nueva Carretera a Oaxtepec because the road to the other side of the volcano was blocked.
So, once we got on that road, we drove up towards the direction of where San Pedro Atocpan was and past that to turn turn right onto a road called Ent. a la Mina.
From there, we passed some nopal fields as you'd imagine and got to some area called Torre Xaltepec.
You can see the entrance of the road to Torre Xaltepec here.
The taxi had to stop here as it wasn't able to keep on going uphill and it was a fairly easy walk up.
Near the top, you'll see this little tower and a wide open space with a view of Milpa Alta that is pretty good.
Here's some photos.
At the top, some dog came out barking by the tower area and charged me but didn't try biting me or anything.
I picked up some rocks and gave the motion that I'd throw them to back the dog off.
Some young man in the distance by the tower was shouting out though "don't worry, don't worry, he don't bite!"
And managed to call the dog back up to the tower.
I followed the dog anyhow and introduced myself.
As usual, the guy was astonished that my gringo ass showed up to the area as he doesn't see other people like me in the area.
Very friendly guy.
And we made small talk.
He apparently lives there or near there anyhow.
And I asked him for advice on getting to the top of the volcano.
He told me there was another path that, in his words, was easier by some area called Caseta.
I eventually found it later on.
And I returned to the taxi to continue the journey.
Here's some pics of the views from the top of Torre Xaltepec.
Journey into Endless Nopal
We eventually made our way full circle almost from where we were initially but on the other side of the road blockage that kept us from traveling normally.
Around these parts.
The taxi driver just kept on driving down the roads I told him to anyhow and we were basically on some ejido land of people producing a shit ton of nopal.
Actually going off the official roads that Google Maps had laid out.
With every so often a random nopal worker lifting his head up to look at our vehicle confusingly but never saying anything.
Here's some pictures.
Until we got to a point that was basically a dead end with a truck at the end of it.
Some dude got out to ask us politely where we were going and the taxi driver explained I'm a tourist just visiting the area.
The dude wasn't rude or hostile. Just curious as he probably doesn't get many tourists visiting his nopal fields.
It really was nice though.
Loved the view absolutely.
Rural countryside aesthetics.
Was like in heaven for me.
Given it was the end of the road, we turned around and then turned left to eventually find a wide open space that offered GREAT views of Mexico City.
Some of the best I've seen in a while.
The Wide Open Field of Teuhtli
Here is the wide open field in question.
Past this field is where things got tricky in terms of our ride into the boonies but we'll get to that in a second.
I had the taxi driver stop as I wanted to appreciate the view.
It really was something awesome as fuck.
The view of Teuhtli behind you like you can see here.
Nopal fields to be seen in the distance from one side like you can see here.
And, on the other side, you can see volcanoes that I recognize from my time in Tlahuac and Iztapalapa and lived near as you can see here.
To also a view of San Gregorio Altapulco with its water that I wrote about here and the view can be seen below.
This would honestly be a cool spot to just hang with friends.
Where was it exactly if you wanted to visit?
Right outside the caves that Teuhtli Volcano.
Known as "Cuevas del Teuhtli" obviously.
In the moment, I went to see the caves anyhow.
Here's some pictures on the outside.
And here's some pictures on the inside.
Supposedly there's some archeological importance to them also from what I read online.
Anyway, once I finished my time here, we really got into the boonies so to speak.
Out into the Boonies of Teuhtli
Google Maps says there is a road you can go down past the caves.
When you get there, you won't see a single road except for the one that took you there.
The taxi driver initially thought there wasn't one.
This has to be it!
So, after seeing the caves, I went to inspect what Google Maps was saying.
And I could make out some semblance of a road that was covered up.
In hindsight, I'm glad I forced my taxi driver to go down this imaginary road because it was cool as fuck to get off the typical trail.
Didn't take much to convince him either.
Just was like "hey bro, you won't believe me, like, you won't see a road but it's totally there bro. Totally. Just believe me bro. Trust the plan."
And he was like "ok bro sure" and off we went.
But, to keep it short, basically we followed a path laid out by Google Maps for the most part.
I wanted to get this dude that would go around to the other side that would take us to some road that would lead to an area on the map called "Paraje Los Encinos" as I imagined it'd be the start of the other route to the top of the volcano.
Here are some more pictures of the trip as we tried to make our way to this road.
In the moment, I also began to worry a tiny bit and feel a little bit worry for the guy as his car was taking a little bit of a beating from going down this imaginary road.
There came a point also where his car got stuck for a tiny bit and I legit wondered if we were going to have to hike it out of there leaving the car behind as it wouldn't move.
This area -- while possible for us -- is probably more suitable for a truck than a small taxi car.
Anyway, we ended up getting to an area that was kinda of a open space near some crops.
And the road we would've had to get on to finish getting to the next road that'd take us to this "Paraje los Encinos" didn't exist.
There was no path -- none we could create -- that'd lead us there.
Like technology to tell you to drive off a cliff and you know better.
Here's some photos.
It was around this point though that some random ass dude -- middle aged looking man -- walked out of nowhere with a gun.
Not threatening us or trying to rob us.
Definitely didn't look like some naco type from Tepito or Iztapalapa.
But more of a man who just seemed confused as fuck about what the fuck we were doing on his property.
He claimed to have property in the area working on some crops and he saw our taxi vehicle -- basically the only one ever that he's seen drive down these parts -- just show up.
With a gringo. The only gringo he's seen in a thousand years.
Taxi driver explained we are lost looking for another route to the volcano.
Dude claimed the road we are looking for to shortcut to the other side doesn't exist.
So we said goodbye and carried on our way.
Keep in mind too that, at least in Milpa Alta, I've come to learn that a lot of people here are worried about criminals stealing their crops.
Like nopal for example.
Given I doubt that a single soul rides their vehicle down this imaginary road that only Google Maps says exists and which can get your vehicle stuck and unable to leave, I doubt he gets many visitors.
We kept on going north anyhow and here's more pictures.
Finally, we got onto some road that, looking back on it now, I think was Av. de las Torres.
We eventually found a road before that which looked like a real road and probably less at risk of getting the vehicle stuck in the middle of nowhere again.
Back to Teuhtli Volcano
We eventually get to Av. de las Torres and drive north to some colonia called El Carmen.
Then drive back south on a road called Santiaguito.
And it basically became a labyrinth game of trying to figure out which roads to get onto to keep going south as so many of them in this area of Xochimilco are short or artificially blocked (meaning blocked by the local residents for years like some birthday celebration that Google Maps wouldn't know about).
It was a real shitty area of Xochimilco though.
So shitty that it gave me the exciting idea of living there. How cool could this place be? Any interesting colonias with fun shit going on?
We eventually find our way back south anyway and onto some street called Cam. 3 Nopales.
And got to the volcano eventually again from the other side.
Went on to climb it.
You can read more about the experience here.
Then, when we finished our time there, I got back in the taxi and we went all the around around to San Antonio Tecomitl, then to Villa Milpa Alta and then up north to see some last few rural areas of Milpa Alta that I hadn't seen yet.
The Remaining Nopal Fields of Milpa Alta
The remaining areas I hadn't seen by this point were east of that original road we took to get to the Teuhtli volcano.
On Google Maps, one of the areas is called Loma Bonita for reference.
We got onto some road called Veracruz and was told by some lady at the front of some gate looking spot that they were going to close the gates soon since it was about to get dark.
Given there were so many roads in and out of the area, I figured we could find a way out if it came down to it.
So I told the taxi driver to just keep on driving.
In hindsight, this dude had a lot of confidence in me and my directions.
From going down the imaginary road by those caves to this.
He wasn't sure about going past the gate but I told him "it's fine bro, if I die, you die. And we die together in a blaze of glory. It's what God would want."
OK, I didn't tell him that.
But just that "I'm sure it'll be OK, there's lots of roads in and out of here."
So we went off.
And, in this general area, you'll see what is as typical for Milpa Alta as it gets: endless nopal fields.
Here's some of the photos among the many I took of this area.
And, with that, we finished what was a 7 hour trip.
I had spent about 19 hours now taking different taxis into the boonies of Milpa Alta.
Probably spent about 120 bucks total for all of those hours, time and gas from the drivers.
For this specific 7 hour ride -- and what was my last one into the Milpa Alta countryside -- I gave him about 35 bucks or 700 pesos.
Or 5 bucks an hour.
It really does be crazy just how insanely cheap this all is.
Like picking a random ass dude on the street to just drive you around for the whole day for literally nothing.
"Bro, get the fuck over here. You're my free driver now. I choose YOU!!!!"
I did give him though a 50 peso tip because I am a very generous man.
His wife called me afterwards to thank me for feeding their family (no, she didn't but let's say she did).
In the end, it's one of my favorite things to do sometimes in Mexico City and broader Latin America.
No, not paying taxi drivers insanely cheap prices.
But going out into obscure areas.
Seeing what else is out there beyond the typical gringo heavy spots.
My very first trip to Latin America was to some village in Chiapas of Mexico as you can read here.
Since then, been to other odd areas here and there over the years.
Mexico City has plenty of spots that are different that don't get talked about by foreigners.
And are worth the visit.
Especially if you like rural areas in the countryside of the south.
Over the last month or two, I've had enough experiences anyhow taking taxis "out into the boonies" like the one above.
Be it the experience to Mina la Estancia as I wrote here or to visit some archeological site called Terrazas near San Pedro Atocpan of Milpa Alta.
Among other examples.
And they don't always have to be rural spots.
Perhaps hire the taxi to drive you mural hunting in Iztapalapa.
Maybe visit obsecure neighborhoods nobody talks about out in the corners like Acopilco in Cuajimalpa de Morelos or Santa Rosa in GAM.
Completely random ass areas.
That, if you take the time to read about them online and whatever little or big history they have, could make for an interesting visit.
Perhaps they have some historical church tied to something cool.
And, beyond anything like that, just visiting in of itself is cool.
Be it those areas.
Or visiting rural farmers with guns wondering "who the fuck is this gringo visiting my nopal farm in middle of buttfuck nowhere?"
Certain thrill and adventure that comes with it all I like.
And taxi drivers in Latin America -- with their basically free services -- are a great key to enjoying it all.
To just get in on and ride around feeling like a free man to see the world.
A drink of vodka and black tea in hand.
And Russian Post-Punk music playing in the background.
This is Latin America.
This is life.
Thanks for reading.
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