"It sure is a big freaking rock." Bernal by Aelena23

Bernal Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 50 photos

Bernal...excuse me, we passed it?

You can see the monolith (third largest in the world! Thanks for VT member for tip re: shooting locale for Close Encounters of the Third Kind) from the bus...THERE it is...there it goes? Bernal doesn't have a bus station. You have to see the rock and know enough to get off the bus. A couple other befuddled travelers made their way back to town with me after we figured if we didn't speak up it would be a realllly long walk. Of course this little mixup was a blessing (usually is. I love this country!)--we found this amazing public park that is really difficult to capture in words...sort of like ancient ruins, but a public town space with a theater space (there's a huge sun symbol on the floor, which makes me think of a pelota court, for some reason, but no, no sacrifices, just theater). There is a chapel on the edge of this little sanctuary, and it feels incredibly peaceful. The legend is something like, a guy saw some thieves coming and prayed to be hidden, and they didn't see him. Miracle! So he had a shrine built here. This was all some centuries ago. The shrine is partially maintained, partially not, and feels incredibly peaceful. Wait! I said that already. There is something about Bernal that's lulling, not exactly soothingly so, either...but in shopping, when a shopkeeper asked if I'd seen the rock up close (nope), she had someone up the street watch her shop so she could take me through her sister-in-law's (cuñada--my Spanish lessons!) hacienda to stand on their balcony, right under the huge thing. Sent chills down my spine. I explained this, and when she ushered me back out onto the sidewalk, she proudly told all her friends that I was deeply affected by the sight. Cool awesome people, great walking, feels a little spooky, must go back.

Shopping in Bernal

Well, where does one start? For some reason, the shopping here seems better than in Queretaro. I found some great stuff. Note: I found something perfect for a friend and found the telltale remnant of a tag...yes, I suspect half the clothing is from India. But it's still lovely. You can get stones from the area, which are rumored to have soothing and mysterious powers--the locals, living under the shadow of the rock, are remarkably long-lived. Couldn't have anything to do with the lack of renegade taxis, could it? Actually, there are still some renegade taxis. Okay, so one of the biggest problems about being in Mexico is that this is a country that likes sweets. Me too! Dulces de Bernal are widely renowned for their toothsomeness, and boy, are they yummy. There are caramel-like things that are particularly dangerous. Be warned, if you have a sugar problem, this is not a place to visit unprepared. Do not visit on an empty stomach. Do bring your suntan lotion, or else you will end up NOT climbing la peña (name of aforementioned big rock) because of being so scorched. You will spend a great deal of the next day in the cool shady depths of your apartment. Trust me. You will dodge questions from people all week about why you went to Bernal alone (you will not be able to explain this away like you can with the movie pilgrimage to San Miguel, because who makes pilgrimages for Spielberg? Dawson Leary?) and you will spend the time thinking about camping and having a guide take you all the way to the top of the stupid thing, which you swear you can still feel thrumming in your bones. Maybe you will plan a trip with your sister. If your sister is like mine, who hiked Katahdin and did the Knife's Edge, you know you are already outclassed but look forward to the trip anyway.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small, nice people, great walking, big rock, good shopping.
  • Cons:Umm...kind of hard to figure out where to catch the bus.
  • In a nutshell:Great for the scenery, lousy for the waistline.
  • Last visit to Bernal: Jul 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (2)

  • alfredop's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2005 at 6:05 PM

    I'm glad you made it and you liked it! Keep rolling around Queretaro! It is Magical!

  • Apr 15, 2005 at 5:14 AM

    Many many happy returns of the day. Wishing you a happy birthday and great time. Greetings to you from India. Superb page.


“Obviously, I don't know the rock well enough yet.”

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