Yautepec is a small town in the state of Morelos, about 2-3 hours south of Mexico City. (Totally depending on traffic!) My little sister spent a year here as an exchange student in 2002-2003, and is now back visiting her host family and doing a public health module for nursing school. I came down on Thursday and yesterday, Friday, I was able to see a little more of the town.
I guess I would call it a typical small Latin American town, although I find it busier than the sleepier small towns I know from Central America. This could be due to the fact that Mexico DF is not that far away and quite a few people commute. The town sits at 1200 meters above sea level, which means that I dropped from 2600m (DF) to 1200m in just a few hours! Definitely makes your ears pop. The altitude is very noticeable on the climate: the sun feels very strong, the day temperature is rather hot, but the nights are chilly!
Yautepec has a small town square that is nicely decorated for Christmas and the typical market with all sorts of fun stuff. Oh, and "town square" is usually not called "plaza" in Mexico, but rather "zócalo." I learned this from my sister - until now I thought Zócalo only referred to the famous square in Mexico City. I am happy for my sister that she spent her exchange year in a small town, it makes it so much easier to be independent and do stuff around town. We had fun walking around the market and th rest of the town, and I bought a few things. Then I went back and took a two-hour nap!
Last night we went to a typical Posada in a Yautepec neighborhood. The posadas are originally a Spanish tradition, but now is mostly celebrated in certain Latin American countries. For nine nights (December 16-24) people will gather at a different house, walk in a procession with candles singing songs, and stop outside a house singing more songs and knocking on the door. This represents Maria and Joseph trying to find shelter. But I don't think there was a piñata back in Jerusalem! A Mexican posada always has a piñata. After the piñata, the pelegrinos are allowed into the house for different traditional foods. We had sope and gorditas and ponche. It was fun but really cold!!
Today we will do laundry and other things to get ready for the Big Trip. We leave Monday at 2am... (I think I already mentioned this but it is taking some time getting used to!)