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Better run to the top of the mountain

Rounding out the trip to Veracruz, Naomi and I headed to Quiahuiztlán, an archaeological site halfway up a seaside crag and at the foot of what I take to be a volcanic plug. Below the mountain is the fishing village of Villa Rica (it got the part of the original name Veracruz didn't), believed to be the first Spanish settlement in Mexico. There are supposedly the ruins of a church, but we don't know, as the pre-Hispanic site exhausted us.

To get to the site we had to follow a well paved but abandoned and winding road up the mountain, broken up by cattle grids. These were initially of consternation for Naomi, as the wind was blowing powerfully enough to blast a precariously balanced young Indian lass off the side of the mountain. However, when a stray donkey with a bulbous red tumour on it's ear started chasing us up the mountain, and commands of "Burro! No!" failed to deter it, dashing up to and traversing the next grid ended the pursuit.

Finding the site abandoned of visitors and staff, we let ourselves in. It is made up of the usual pyramids, ball courts and squares, but with a unique addition: the Totonacs used this as a burial ground, and bones of the dead were interred in little faux temples, with little steps and little doorways. Covered in moss, and under fig-rooted trees, they were beautiful. One cluster overlooks the gulf, and one could picture Cortés' galleons arriving and dropping anchor 500 years prior.

Leaving, the horror clichés began: a branch had broken at the gate, still clinging precariosly by fibres to it's tree, blocking the way. Moments after we climbed under it, it fell with a crash. Walking across the abandoned carpark, a vagabond with satchel tied to a stick slouched past us, looking at us evilly. Out of ear shot, I made some offhand "coming to get you" type of remark, setting me up, by the rules of horror, to be the first victim.

However, plague donkey had vanished as we made our way down the mountain.

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