In the middle of this town is an awe-inspiring archaeological site, on top of which sits a beloved park, which is home to the king of trees. It’s 700 years old, and sits perched on top of the park – visible even from afar. Throughout its life, it had a recurring role in the history of its hometown. And on top of that, it’s an Ahuehuete (or Sabino, or Montezuma cypress, or scientifically, a Taxodium mucronatum) – the national tree of Mexico. The tree is nicknamed “El Pino,” but since the tree isn’t a pine, this name is a bit of a misnomer. Yet after its role in so many stories, the name is too sentimental to be changed.
November 15, 1530 is a date that everyone in the town remembers: it’s said that the first ever Catholic mass to be held in the town too place right on the bed of the lake, underneath the shade of “El Pino.” There’s even a small stone plaque sitting at the bottom of the tree in commemoration of the event. But that wasn’t the beginning of the small town’s history, or even the park surrounding El Pino.
Many archaeological pieces have been both preserved by locals and dug up by archaeologists over the years: carved stone deity heads, bones, vessels, and more. These are believed to have belonged to the Aztec culture that once thrived on the same land. The 19th century local Vallense Catholic prelate and writer Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza even carved a poem into a cantera stone slab, which still sits at the entrance to the park – romantically paying its respects to the beautiful scenery of the town.
The park itself opens with the dawn, and closes with the dusk.