domingo, 1 de agosto de 2010

Destination: Desierto de los Leones

The Desierto de los Leones is neither a desert, nor are there lions. I believe the original inhabitants came up with the name just to keep other people away. However, my brother-in-law is a bit more knowledgable on the subject and says that there used to be mountain lions in the mountains outside of Mexico City (on the road to Toluca) and, years ago, a desierto could be used to describe any kind of deserted place, whether a true desert or a cold, mountanous forest.

But the name is a lot more poetic as the misnomer I thought it was.

Regardless, the week that I was in Mexico City, my sister-in-law suggested going to El Desierto instead of Chapuletpec. Being closer to their house, cheaper, and less crowded, I was game. And it is now one of my most favorite places in this entire country.

First of all, we went on a Wednesday, which meant that there were a grand total of 20 other people visiting that day. Plus, the sky threatened rain all day. I'm sure that helped keep people away, too. Had we visited on a weekend, the place would likely have been packed. I highly recommend rainy Wednesdays.

In general visitors to the park come to have picnics, rent shelters for birthday parties or family gatherings, and just to have a dia de campo. However, being my first time there, we went to the ex-convent. I love ex-convents. And this is now my favorite one (sorry, Tlaxcala--you'll have to be content being #2).

Most convents in Mexico closed, or became government property during the reform movement in the 1850s-1860s. However, Very Knowledgeable Brother-in-law claims that this one was closed because the nuns from this order had to take a vow of silence to live there. One can live in silence for only so long before craziness sets in. So as the convent slowly became a lunatic aslyum, someone in charge decided that the best thing to do was to abandon the property. Personally, I think a more sensible step would have been to allow the nuns to talk, but they didn't ask my advice.

Being a woodland paradise it would have been heaven to live in, overlooking the wicked cold the nuns would have had to endure in the winter, of course. Now it makes for a great place for chilangos to excape their concrete jungle. It's also impeccably well-maintained by both the government and Grupo Bimbo. There are trails to walk around in the woods, and a path to a river, which I'll explore the next chance I get. However, Clara and her cousins liked the playground equipment best of all, of couse.

5 comentarios :

Laurie dijo...

I found your blog via In Veracruz. I have been to several places in Mexico, but never the capital. I like the fact that you like ex-convents. There is a convent, still alive with nuns, in the old capital of Honduras, in Comayagua. I would love to have a tour as the outside looks harsh and well, like a prison. The nuns appear very sad when they walk the short walk to the Cathedral. Maybe they can't talk either. Who knows?

Krystal dijo...

It kills me that I've been to Mexico City four times in the last two years and I've never once heard about this place from my hubby or in-laws. I have to find out about it from another American, such is life!! Now it's been added to the list of places to see, thank you, and great pics!

Alice dijo...

We went here once as a getaway from DF, and I couldn't believe how clean the air smelled. We hiked and had a picnic in the woods!

Thanks for the story on the convent -- I had no idea.

Ashlie dijo...

What an interesting blog and amusing as well--my favourite kind of blog. If your brother in-law's account is correct regarding the nuns I'm with you it sure would have been more humane and simpler to just let the poor old ladies talk.

Midwesterner in Mexico dijo...

We just went here last weekend, and it was amazing! So peaceful & gorgeous among all the trees. Though I think you may have missed out on the weirdest part since you were there during the week-- on the weekends they have tours, and part of the tour goes through the sotano... There was a guy selling flashlights outside of it, but I figured "It's an official tour, how dark can it be?"

Answer: pitch black, inside a ~5 foot high tunnel with occasional big puddles of water to surprise you. It was hilarious-- definitely another "only in Mexico" moment. :)