Trip Log: The Volcanoes

DSC_2236©Puebla Trip part 2

Wednesday: Paso de Cortés, San Nicolás de los Ranchos and San Jerónimo Tecuanipán
We drove out of Puebla in the very early morning so we could catch volcano views at sunrise, when it’s normally the clearest. On our way we passed Cholula and a number of churches on hilltops which were all beautifully lit in the pre-dawn darkness. Why can we not light Mazatlán’s cathedral like that?

I made Danny stop in the middle of a field just before dawn, as the silhouettes of Popo and Itze came into view. Oh did we enjoy ourselves in that early morning air! The climate was a welcome change from Mazatlán’s heat and humidity. We had clear views to all three volcanoes: Popocatéptl, Iztaccihuatl, and Malinche. It was glorious. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

After sunrise we headed closer to the volcanoes. Paso de Cortés is said to be the road that Cortez took. It goes right between the two volcanoes, into the national park.And oh my gosh are you CLOSE to those volcanoes! I was very happy it didn’t erupt while we were right there. If we’d had more time we could have gone hiking and camping, but we needed to get back to Mazatlán on Friday so we could drive to Cosalá for a big trail run.

Danny and I spent several hours on this dirt road, getting out to hike around, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the views. Wildflowers and butterflies were everywhere! They were alpine flowers and pines, and greatly reminded me of life in Colorado. I would recommend a four-wheel drive if you are planning to come here. Our little four cylinder rental car did fine thanks to Danny’s able driving, but luckily it wasn’t raining.

Coming back down from our steep mountain climb, we stopped in San Nicolás de los Ranchos, a small town surrounded by fields with a lovely church in the center of town. We enjoyed brunch in the market in front of the church, and then accompanied the bell ringer up to the roof of the church to enjoy his prowess and take in the views. By this time the view had clouded over, as we warned is normal. San Nicolás is a darling little town with friendly people and loads of produce.

I had to take a video of the two bell ringers; they were so very charming!

In the afternoon we headed to our next lodging place: Casita de Barro in San Jerónimo Tecuanipán. OMG! If you are committed to sustainable living, if you want to support people who in turn support their local community, if you just want to meet two incredibly interesting people, you must stay here! Ina and Manuel have done and are doing amazing things here. The cabin is GORGEOUS—a really luxurious tree house. Their home is adobe, surrounded by gardens. They have running water, killer views and a delectable homemade organic breakfast; the only small downside is that the toilet is outside. Below is a video interview with Manuel and Ina, the owners of Casita de Barro. I recommend you view the video on a phone or tablet so you can turn it sideways. Sorry about that!

It rained in the afternoon, so Danny and I took advantage of the rest to read and watch a movie. We went into town for more cemitas for dinner; gotta love them! At one point it cleared up and a double rainbow came out. About 5:00 pm local kids showed up for their free after-school classes in Casita de Barro’s school room. Hearing their joyous laughter was really delightful.

I was pretty sure that the cloudy, stormy weather would continue. It seemed to rain all night. We’d already been gifted with THREE gorgeous sunrises and two beautiful sunsets, surely it would be greedy of me to hope for a fourth. But, no! I opened my eyes at 4:00 am, I’m sure because Popo was calling to me. He was out! His silhouette was clear! The Milky Way was shining, too! So I put my sweatshirt on over my night gown, put on my boots, loaded up my camera and tripod and went on a hike. Oh did I have fun! Casita de Barro’s dogs accompanied me as I tramped through the field to get the best frame for my shots. I loved how the dogs’ eyes glowed blue, green and white in the light of my headlamp.

As the sun rose, I took a time-lapse of the sunrise over Popocatéptl. I’m not sharing it with you here, however, because it wasn’t the most spectacular sunrise. The photos do the moment better justice.

To read the third and final installment of this Trip Log (Atlixco and Cholula) click here.