Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Car Trip 21

SPECIAL NOTE TODAY: This is a picture heavy post so I have placed all of the pictures after the text. I highly recommend enlarging them to see the extraordinary detail of this amazing place called Las Pozas. All of the pictures today were taken by L.

The next morning, which was Friday, April 22nd, found me awake and up and about by 7:00 am. Not all that unusual for me. Especially here since I had not had a restful night at all. Besides not getting enough sleep, I woke up a bit cranky, knowing that we had no coffee pot in the room and that there was no restaurant involved with our hotel. How, then, to get coffee? Only one way to find out! Get my butt up those stairs and find a restaurant that had coffee to go. I decided to stop at the office (which also appeared to be the home of the manageress) on the way out and ask her advice. Surely she would know where I could get three cups of coffee in this town. As it turns out, she certainly did! She graciously offered to make a pot for us and would let me know when it was done. In the meantime, she had enough coffee from her own morning breakfast to give me a cup while I waited! I acted like I didn’t want her to bother, but I was very glad that she insisted and "forced" me to accept her hospitality! I gleefully sat down at one of the garden tables and sipped my coffee, had a smoke and watched the fog clear from the mountains around me as I waited for her to make another pot. I think B and L were very surprised to have me reappear at the room door carrying a tray with fresh coffee and china cups! I thought that my resourcefulness and willingness to be the "food gatherer" should be rewarded by them waiting on me hand and foot for the rest of the day. They had other thoughts about that!

We were finally all ready and loaded ourselves into the car to make the 1.5 mile drive back down and around the mountain road to the entrance to Las Pozas. We located the little gravel road with no trouble, drove for a bit to the entrance, parked and paid our admission. After just a quick look around, L very wisely decided that we had better buy one of the site maps to assist us in finding our way. This place is huge and consists of many trails, sidewalks and staircases winding their way around and through this section of the rain forest. It is famous for its’ staircases that wind their way up and up and lead to nowhere. They just end and you have to turn around and go back. And they don’t even especially end at anything exciting, like a great view or a waterfall or a snack bar or something. The place is full of swimming holes, waterfalls, cement buildings, pavillions, zigzagging staircases and pathways, cement sculptures, dead ends and breathtaking beauty. We spent six hours there and enjoyed every second. We all unanimously decided later that it was definitely one of the trip’ highlights and someplace we would visit again.

Unfortunately, the literature about this place tells us that Sir Edward James died in 1984 and left no provision in his will to maintain this place. As a result, the jungle is quickly taking over and the heat and humidity of a rain forest is taking its’ toll. A lot of the concrete is crumbling, rusty reinforcing rod is poking through in the most unexpected of places and the pathways are getting grown over and becoming hard to negotiate. It is fast becoming eaten up by the rain forest and is in real danger of disappearing totally. What a shame if that were to happen. This is one of the most bizarre, but fascinating, places I have ever seen and I would hate to think of it lost to future viewers.
We returned to town and had lunch at a local pizzeria. Much more enjoyable than the dinner the night before! Lunch was almost a somber affair. I think we were all lost in thought over what we had just seen and experienced. Eventually we started to discuss it though. I think we all first had to really digest the craziness in our minds and sort it out before we could really discuss it.
Back at the hotel and L decided to go check out the local internet. (Amazingly, almost every town, village or grouping of houses along the road in Mexico has an internet place!) Since it was located at the end of the street and up a rather long set of stairs (I counted 80 later when I was forced to walk up them!) B and I decided to give it a miss. Our family and friends would just have to wait another day to hear from us!

Since it was still a nice afternoon, early evening really, B and I sat outside the hotel, across the street on a low stone wall. While we were just relaxing and enjoying a smoke and Gatorade, an elderly Mexican gentleman approached up the hill towards us, leading a horse. As he passed, he greeted us warmly and led his horse through a passageway in the wall and staked it out to graze on what little grass was to be found there. He returned to where we were sitting and struck up a conversation. I think it quickly became apparent to him how bad our Spanish is because, unlike some Mexicans I can mention, he immediately slowed down his speech and chose his words very carefully so that we would have a better chance of understanding him. As it turns out, we had a very enjoyable, if not sometimes difficult, conversation with him. He lived just down the road and invited us to come on down, meet his wife and kids and have a beer. I cannot be sure, but I think again it was the novelty of the American in Mexico thing that prompted the invitation. We reluctantly declined and made excuses. Neither one of us wanted to spend what would probably turn into several hours of trying to communicate in a language we can hardly get by in. Besides, we had no way of letting L know where we were if we left the hotel. That would have been rude and selfish of us. Two things that I certainly am not!

L eventually returned with the news that the world had not come to an end yet. We were all feeling a slight glow from having had such a wonderful day, but we were also tired of little Xilitla also. After Las Pozas, there was not much to do. We had planned on visiting some nearby caves but decided to forego them in favor of striking out for Zacatecas the next day. This was another city that we were looking forward to seeing.

1 comment:

Andee said...

I kind of like the looks of th guy in the red shirt. The garden looks spectacular. Thanks for the photos.