Tuesday morning we left San Miguel de Allende, the second time. We were heading North-East to the Sierra Gorda. We heard it’s beautiful, also a biosphere reserve with eco-tourism etc.
We were taking the longer, more scenic route stopping for one night in San Joaquin in the mountains. Surprisingly it had a wonderful forest-y campground where we could park up for free for the night. Though the street leading up to the camp was very narrow and steep (so are the ones coming back down then out of town the following day) But San Joaquin itself looks pretty and very colourful.
Then the following day, after a whole day drive on a dirt road we found a spot in a beautiful valley where for our biggest surprise was a family-run campground.
After spent a peaceful night at this campsite, we were only a few miles from the Sierra Gorda. We aimed to geth to the town called Jalpan to stop and hang out a day or two. We arrived there at about lunchtime but somehow none of us got the buzz so after having just a quick lunch there we jumped back into Burt and headed to Xilitla we heard so much about.
It wasn’t so much the town that interested us most, it was Las Pozas (The Pools) that got our attention when friends showed us pictures and recommended to visit this place.
Las Pozas is 3 km out of Xilitla in a jungle. It is an experiment of a wealthy English aristocrat, poet Edward James, and his love for art, design, architecture and nature, sprinkled wit his hyperactive imagination. From the mid ’40s for nearly 20 years he and 40 local workers created a monumental, surreal concrete madness in the jungle building bridges, spiral staircases, pavilions, massive concrete flowers and so on, integrating the jungle-given nature, waterfalls and its pools.
We arrived to Las Pozas in the afternoon at closing time but the guy at the entrance gave us permission to park up wherever we like (fit) and we can camp there for the night. It was humid and pretty warm but we loved our spot and the exotic sound of the jungle. We decided to walk to town that evening. It was a few km on a gravel/dirt road by the forest. The town had a lovely atmosphere. Small main square with a church, a bar, a bakery, cafe and a few shops. In the bar we met a few western locals and by their stories we had a good feel about this little town.
The following few 4-5 days we visited Las Pozas a few times, walked on its maze-like trails discovering more and more unfinished buildings, hung out by the waterfall in the pools and just chill and listen to the jungle. In the weekend and evenings we wandered in to town to check out the local market, watch locals dancing on the square (apparently they do this every Saturday at market time) and meeting our new local friend, Walter.
For the mornings, we discovered a sweet little cafe (at our side of town) that was run by a very nice lady (spoke excellent English too) making amazing breakfasts, yummy cheese cake, coffee, had wifi and a warm smile. And on our last day she let us fill up with water from her garden tap.
Walter, back in Xilitla, mentioned the Sotano de Golondrinas (The Cave of the Swallows) A cave that’s 33-50 m diameter and 333 m deep! Every day at sun rise thousands of birds (mainly swallows) fly out of it and at sunset return. I was very keen to see this. It was further north from us (generally the opposite direction where we want to head) but it wasn’t far. After a short couple of hours drive we arrived right where the entrance was. We asked the owner of the little cafe if we can park up for the night. It was OK. We planned to see the birds in the morning, but as we were there at sunset we decided to get our tickets now and walk down to the cave to see the returning birds too. I don’t know what made me more stunned, the size of this cave (it was bonkers!) or the hundreds of birds flying in to it. Literally I forgot to breath when I looked down to the cave. Couldn’t see the bottom of it. Apparently you can wholly fit the Chrysler Building in to it! The following morning we got up in the dark, walked down again and see them flying out. It was pretty spectacular.
That morning we didn’t have the problem leaving too late. By 8AM we were on the road heading south towards Pachuca.
Next Parque Nacional Mineral del Chico…