The valley was practically 10,000 feet below us. What an exhilerating feeling. We felt alive!
And there right in front of us as the view opened to the south, was the Volcan de Fuego. What a incredible sight we thought as we looked down on it.
It is a true joy to live in Mexico, particularly Ajijic, a retirement capital on Mexico's largest lake. Life here is full of opportunity to be alive, mentally and physically active and fit, no matter what one's interests. For those inclined, one can go off in any direction, by any means, near or far, and discover a world of adventure as you'll see below.
I enjoy writing what I learn. My second edition of Walks and Trails around Ajijic is now available throughout Ajijic including Bugamvilias Bookstore and Superlake. There are eight walks and over two dozen trails described in detail along with colour maps and GPS waypoints. I am working on a companion book, Backroads and Trails beyond Ajijic for the more adventurous.
Every Tuesday the Been There and Back gang meets at the local donut shop in Ajijic for coffee and a donut before leaving at 9AM for a day of mountain hiking. We hike directly out of Donas, or carpool or bus to far off trailheads. At times we'll go off for 2 or 3 days to explore an area. See Jim Cook's Hiking Lake Chapala's Mountains blog entry for January 6 '08 http://cookjmex.blogspot.com/
The plan was to find and explore the ruins of the old La Quintera mine. However, what we found was a working, small scale, silver refining plant. It was fascinating to observe the whole process of the ore being ground in a giant rotating drum containing very hard round balls, followed by a process where liquid was added to the ground ore to become a bubbly slurry. I believe the ore impurities were lifted by the bubbles to flow over the side of the huge rectangular tank leaving behind a concentration of silver. The whole process was an engaging sight, especially the young female engineer showing us around.
By 10 AM we were back on the main road and continuing downhill to Santiago de Los Pinos, an area of bare red earth, few trees and considerable erosion. There was an unmapped bypass road (keep right) which added some confusion but soon we were on our way again, our destination being San Felipe de Hijar. What I had expected to take an hour, took two, and Dick’s Subaru was running very low on gas. Driving up one mountain side and down into the next valley, only to repeat the process over and over, used far more gas than expected. There were a couple of shacks here and there but no villages.
Finally we broke out of the high mountains and almost coasted into the dirt village of San Felipe where we were able to buy some bottles of gasoline. Having all taken a mouth full of gasoline at one time or another, we took particular interest in how the young lady used her mouth to get the siphon going. Then off we went to the seemingly only eating place in town, in the far back corner of a store. We ate while Dick and Ted fell asleep on the chesterfield.
After San Felipe we came across our first paved road, like a super highway leading us down to the hot and humid Ameca River valley at 1470 feet elevation. Then just as unexpectedly we were back into the dirt. However, it wasn’t long before we were at the Balneario el Manto (60 pesos), an intriguing warm springs recreational complex, built into a slot canyon with towering red rock walls above the crystal clear water. With only us there, we played like kids, exploring the canyon and flying down the waterslide. But before long it was time to leave.
As we had spent so much time slowly negotiating through the mountains, we decided to take a short cut home by taking a paved switchback road directly north over a 5000 foot high mountain range and down to the Autopista leading to Guadalajara. Part way up we were surprisingly blocked by a large landslide and so had to return by an alternate route directly east through Amatlan de Canas and Tala to
It was a very long exploration, packed into just two days. However, the memories of getting to know each other better and sharing the adventure will last much longer.