Into The (Mexican) Wild
January 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
Part Two of our Grand Mexican Road Trip consisted of nature. A lot of it, and a lot of different kinds of it, and it all kind of blew my mind to see just how much natural splendor can be packed in the few square kilometers that we did.
From Guanajuato, we drove northeast, through imaginary highways, and reached our next spontaneous destination several hours after darkness already fell: la Laguna de la Media Luna. A warm-water lake with the fossils of a mammoth on the bottom (scuba diving down to them optional). We set up our tent, gazed at the infinite sprinkle of stars above, and then attempted not to freeze to death (we were at the mercy of 1.5 blankets, total). But chattering teeth and blue fingers were completely worth it, waking up to this view:
I had never seen water so clear (or a lake so warm!)- you could see meters deep, to the bottom, and not a single speck of dirt.
Just lilly pads.
Amazing. Best morning-swim-that-stretched-to-mid-afternoon of my life.
After a couple hours of driving and hitting up food stands, we arrived to our next destination: the waterfalls of Tamasopo. It was already nighttime by the time we rolled into the area, so we blindly picked the first cabin/camping ground. We were greeted by an ambulance and a couple of military trucks, armed men jumping out from the back. [Apparently, a couple went hiking after dark, one of them fell into the stream, and died.] After the dramatic welcome, we tip-toed off to our cabin and woke up to another splendid sunrise:
We re-explored the camping grounds during the day, the mysticism of the darkness now gone, but all the same impressive.
So many waterfalls and quirky bridges and pools and old ruins! Then we disregarded advice to not hike to the main waterfall because of snakes- and it was one more great disobeyal decision.
The hike there was beautiful, through cow fields and down dirt paths. Upon arriving, we were greeted by an enclosed waterfall and a lot of cold people shrieking.
We didn’t hesitate to join the fun: jumped off a few cliffs, fought our way against the deadly current, flowed into a very impressive cave filled with water and with mosaic reflections all around, and had the times of our lives.
Next on our list was another waterfall, with its own adventure. After driving next to sugar cane for a while,
and a 7-KM dirt trail that had all sorts of obstacles on it, we ended up at a creek with a boat operated by a kid we were supposed to find, somewhere. We did, eventually. And we crossed.
Hiked a bit more and stumbled upon the top of the Tamul Waterfall- literally.
Then, we scaled down a steep series of makeshift ladder steps, and admired the sight from below:
From there, we took an unnecessarily-long detour to our base for the next night: The Cave of the Swallows (Sótano de las Golondrinas). We arrived, as usual, to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. We were advised that there was a deserted camping spot a 15-minute hike down from the road, in the middle of the forest on top of the mountain. So, naturally, we packed a bag, grabbed a flashlight, and treaded into the unknown darkness. We set up the tent and were all giddy giggles until all sorts of weird noises started happening all around us. At 4 AM, we heard particularly creepy footsteps from something that was definitely not a dog or chicken, so… we ran back uphill and took an hour nap in the car.
Woke up just as the sky was beginning to lighten- perfect timing to go trek back down and see the cave come to life with a few thousand swallows as they all flew out for the day from their infinite abyss (or, more accurately, their 370-meters-deep nest).
Definitely one of the coolest things I have done- be suspended over the world’s largest known cave shaft at dawn with birds soaring all around me.
After that, it was time to drive to Xilitla (and try the most unusual ice cream flavours on the side of the road en route), and explore Las Pozas. Such a weird place. Basically, this guy started building his own M.C Escher-esque kingdom in the middle of the jungle, but didn’t have the money to finish. So… now, it’s just a big stone playground for adults.
After a stroll in actual downtown Xilitla (the entire of which smells like coffee), it was time for the final long stretch in the car, through infinite nameless towns and over foggy mountains.
The endpoint was Mineral del Monte, in which bachata music played all night long from some unknown source.
In the morning, a curvy road up to Mineral del Chico, a completely deserted tiny village that apparently sometimes gets packed. But, we had the place to ourselves (other than the woman that made us pastries and a dog that followed us to abandoned ruins and more waterfalls hidden in someone’s backyard), and it was somehow even better like that.
From there, back south, through Mexico City and to civilization.
At least for a while.