You can get to Cuetzalan in three ways: by car (approximately 3 hours), by bus on the old federal highway (5 hours), or by bus on the new highway (3.5 hours).
Perched high in the mountains, this town is one of the “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magic Towns) of Mexico. Its magic includes pyramids, waterfalls, mist and fog, and situations in which you will hear no Spanish spoken, only Nahua, the local indigenous language.
Getting to the tourist attractions is mainly a matter of asking. There’s a tourism module at the highway turnoff for the town (15 minutes from the bus station on foot) where you can get maps and information, and there is also one in the town.
There are many waterfalls, one of which is Las Brisas. To get there, you can take a truck (which functions as a bus), or walk, which takes about an hour. I recommend walking, since you’ll see more. If it’s a foggy, wet day, the road will be muddy, so be prepared. For the first half hour you’ll trek along a cobblestone road, from which you can get some nice views of the surrounding mountains, as well as some old buildings. Pretty much all the people you meet along the way will say hi to you, so you should be polite and say hello back. After the cobblestones, you’ll come upon a cement road that leads to the outskirts of another village. From there the way is more confusing, but people can point you in the right direction, and sometimes you might find a boy willing to take you the rest of the way for a small tip. The path to the waterfall has now been paved and includes many steps down. You can swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, but it’s usually freezing.
To get to the pyramids, you’ll have to go to Yohualichan, another town. You can do this by taking a bus-truck and asking the driver or the occupants to let you off at the pyramids. Entry to the archeological site costs about $30 pesos. Once inside the area, you can tour the ball court and check out the niche pyramids.
Back in Cuetzalan, wandering around the town is worthwhile. There’s the Church of the Little Jars (Iglesia de Los Jarritos), unique because of the tiny jars that line its steeple. And there are the Voladores, or flying dancers, who swing down from a high, high pole in the Zócalo (town square).
You can also buy lots of arts and crafts, ranging from necklaces made of seeds, to handground coffee, to embroidered blouses. The blouses are perhaps the best known craft, and range in prices from $95 pesos to $120 for one with a yarn-embroided collar, to $500 pesos for ones embroidered with beads. You can also buy jackets and shawls, and depending on the complexity of their embroidery and the material (wool, for example, is more expensive), they can cost between $200 and $1500 pesos.
Places to Stay
I recommend Taselotzin, a wonderful hostel/hotel run by indigenous women. Everything is clean and well-kept, and the women can give you directions to all the tourist attractions. They also make and sell embroidered items, soap, and traditional medicines (which work quite well in my experience). A double costs $465 pesos, or a bed in the hostel $127 pesos. You can find Taselotzin at (011 52) 233 331 0480.