Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toluca, the travel destination



The Portales, center of Toluca
The city of Toluca, Mexico, definitely has a problem attracting tourists. Compared to other Mexican cities, it is less charming with fewer high-profile cultural and natural attractions. Yet is it close to Mexico City and it does have its high points, so I have always wondered why the city does not attract more tourists. Much to my surprise, this week the "Travel Detective," Peter Greenberg, taped his show from Toluca! It was pretty good, describing food, attractions in the city and those in the region for three hours Saturday morning, Feb 16. You can listen here.

The cosmovitral, a unique stained glass botanical garden
The producer asked if I could come and talk, but I'm in Arizona, not Toluca right now. But I put them in touch with the Colegio Mexiquense (home of our Calixtlahuaca lab), and Xavier Noguez and Gerardo Novo (from the Colegio) were interviewed. Xavier talked about Calixtlahuaca, Malinalco, and the history of the area. Gerardo gave some good tips on local attractions and points of interest. Greenberg also interviewed some other people I do not know, about Toluca museums, hang-gliding and monarch butterfly watching in Valle de Bravo, and about the natural and cultural attractions of the Nevado de Toluca volcano.

The INAH guards at Calixtlahuaca complain that not very many visitors come to see the site. There are many things that could be done by the relevant officials to improve the site, its publicity, and the visiting experience. There is no guidebook for the site. I wrote one, but can't get it distributed. The sign to the site on the highway going north from Toluca is in error, leading motorists to exit at the wrong place. There is little promotion of the site within the city of Toluca or the State of Mexico. The site infrastructure (signs, walkways, bathrooms, museum) leaves much room for improvement. A couple of years ago an aide to a politician asked me what could be done to improve Calixtlahuaca and the number of visitors. I listed the points outlined above (and some others), but little was done.
The Nevado de Toluca volcano
One of the problems is that the site and museum are split between three administrative units. The site is a  federal (INAH) archaeological zone. The museum was built and is owned and managed, by the city of Toluca. But the objects within the museum (mostly from García Payón's excavations in the 1930s) are controlled by the State of Mexico. It is difficult to get all three to work together.

Toluca street food: blue-corn quesadillas!!
Well, enough of my complaining. We've done our part with media interviews, public lectures, school lectures, and things like this blog. I was VERY PLEASED to see that a prominent international travel show was featuring Toluca (with mentions of Calixtlahuaca). Check out the  broadcast, and please go to Toluca and Calixtlahuaca! And, not mentioned in the show, make sure to sample the chorizo (the best in Mexico) and the blue-corn tortillas.

-Mike Smith

3 comments:

Jo Guru said...
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Jo Guru said...
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Jo Guru said...
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