The great outdoors - Jalisco, Mexico
Outdoor activities feel good in Mazamitla, good for body, mind and soul. The clean fresh air, the beautiful landscapes, the smell of the pine trees and log fires, the cool mild climate... they all heighten the senses, stretch the muscles and clear the mind, especially for those of us who live in one of the biggest cities of the world most of the year.
I knew I was out in the countryside again when I heard the cock crowing at the crack of dawn in the house next to us. I snuggled up warmly, almost smothered by the sheer weight of the extra duvet on top of me plus the other two blankets, and took in deep gulps of cold air, fragranced with the smokey hints of last night's fire. A while later, after a full Mexican breakfast (rivalling a full English breakfast), consisting of chilaquiles rojos and scrambled eggs with bacon bits, accompanied by frijoles and orange juice and delicious hot chocolate, we were ready for some action.
Mazamitla has a wide range of outdoor activities on offer... tourist leaflets proclaimed them wherever we looked. On our first morning in Mazamitla we decided to do the 2 km walk to El Salto, a waterfall in the nearby mountains. It was hard on the feet because the trail had been covered in stones. But we realized that this is an absolute necessity for any vehicles to get up and down in the wet weather when the red earth turns into a slippery sticky mud slide.
It was a beautiful day and as we walked, we passed many cabañas and chalet-type houses among the trees. We all picked the one we would like to live in to enjoy the peace and quiet around here. Mine looked like a wooden Swiss chalet but with banana trees in the garden, giving it the necessary exotic touch. It's obvious why the people of Guadalajara flock here in the summer to cool down. If it were nearer to Mexico City, we too would be regular visitors, no doubt about that.
Soon we joined the stream which would plunge down over a rock cliff, forming El Salto, the waterfall we were in going in search of. It wasn't a huge waterfall by any means but was certainly the pride and joy of the people of Mazamitla and they had made it easy for us to get there and appreciate it. Except for a young couple who appeared a little after us, we had it to ourselves.
We climbed back up again and on our way back to Mazamitla, passed small cabañas selling refreshments and souvenirs. Patient horses were lined up waiting to take riders through the woods. Others were already fully laden and off on an adventure somewhere.
The following day, after a heavy rainstorm in the morning and when the weather had cleared up, we ventured out in our blue tank up into the Sierra del Tigre. It didn't take us long to realize that this vehicle, not a 4x4, was like a massive blue whale slithering around on a red beach. We had to stop to clean some of the tons of mud that had lodged around the wheels like an unwanted stowaway. The views were beautiful over the valley and the smell of the pine trees made us long to light another log fire when we got back to our hotel. At that moment, the silence was ripped apart when three quads passed us, swinging round the corners, like nimble crabs negotiating a rocky shoreline. They were definitely better suited for these trails than our car.
Just 15 kms from Mazamitla is the Valle de Juarez on the banks of a lake and so we decided to go and explore the area. Driving through the town, it was obvious that the residents here had at some time sneaked across the border to the US, saved up some money and come back to build a place for their families. A big sign over the road read, "Bienvenido Paisano". Paisano means a person from the same place and refers to those Mexican compatriots who live on American soil but return at Christmas to visit their families. When we arrived at the lake, there were a couple fishing and a few small boats moored up at one point but no-one else was to be seen. Maybe they were preparing for their Christmas celebrations back in the town. We ambled down the Malecón or promenade with its unusual blue paving stones and were greeted by a gang of ducks, the only ones enjoying the water today.
Time had run out for us but there are many more places to visit and outdoor activities in t. Even when it was raining and not entirely suitable to wandering around outside, we kept busy with some hilarious games of billiards at the hotel. They also had a tennis court but our game was aborted when the ball decided to take up permanent residence in the school grounds next door. I went to inform the girl in reception of our misfortune and to see if we could go and retrieve it. "I'm afraid it's school holidays so we have no way of getting the ball until the next school term." So could we use another ball then? "Sorry, we only had one ball!" Oh dear. "Well, can we play billiards again, please?"