Having become expert in Spanish in just 2 weeks (well, maybe a bit better with numbers and parts of the body) we headed out back onto the road. The area around San Luis Potosi is at present off limits to all US government personnel who have to be back in the city before dark and there were limited international tourists but the Mexicans themselves are doing a great job at seeing their own country – on the weekends anyway.
First stop, having been shown a you tube clip in Baja, was Laguna Media Luna. As we always seem to manage to hit all major tourist destinations on a weekend, this was no exception and was full of families camping for the weekend and enjoying the crystal clear, thermally warmed 800m long lake, perfect for a dip after more than a few hours on the road.
A little further on into the depths of the Huastaca Potosina and a multitude of waterfalls and pools which have been roped across to make (some of) them accessible to swimmers…. also thermal spring warmed which always helps a certain slowcoach get into the water more quickly!
The man-made highlight of the area were the gardens of Las Posas. Created by a somewhat eccentric aristocrat Brit who fell in love with the area and Dali. During the 1950s – 80s he created a craziness of narrow paths, pools, bridges, buildings and fantastical concrete structures that extend over a huge area. Largely, now over grown it is a whimsical place to wander and avoid the mosquitoes.
Back to normality with a climb back out of the humidity up to Sotano de las Golondrinas… one of the world’s biggest sink holes that provides a dormitory for thousands of swifts every night… it was a phenomenal sight watching them all circle and swoop to bed – made all the more interesting by the arrival of a couple of peregrine falcons who thought it was dinner time.
As I am sure you wouldn’t be surprised, this being somewhat out of the way, there was no campsite immediately to hand… and night-time driving is not recommended (due to ridiculous invisible speedbumps and wandering cows rather than banditos).
So best option… find a restaurant with a bit of flat ground next door, buy a beer and
ask in our best (and only) conditional tense sentence, ‘Are we able to camp here please?’. We eventually worked out the reply was positive so we were then able to invest in dinner too!
The next days drive was a mere 300km. Google said it would take 8 hours, we thought surely not; Yes. It was 8 hours! No highways so I guess we should be happy that we weren’t pouring money into the tolls, but topes are what you have to suffer instead. A tope is a speedbump, but a speedbump of indeterminate size, placed indiscriminately along the road (when you come into a town, when you leave a town, when there are cross roads, when there aren’t crossroads, when a street vendor decides that he needs the traffic to slow down as you go past his stall of food… ) you get the idea!
However, finally we arrived just outside Mineral de Chico. We have never been so exhausted after a drive – and that includes a 15 hour day on the Alaska Highway.
In contrast to the previous night we had the campsite to ourselves. A Cornish mining company bought into Mineral del Chico in the 1900s and left rows of Cornish style cottages and ‘pastes’ as the now local delicacy. At 3000m we had ice forming on the inside of the tent as we went to sleep, by morning we were questioning whether our desire for a pasty was a step too far and if we are cut out for the Andes!
There is constant discussion about where we want to go, and what we can and can’t do within the time restraints we have imposed upon ourselves. Mexico has taken us a little by surprise both in its scale and the variety and number of options available that we would like to see. Having inadvertently driven up the mountain, honest we intended to walk it but couldn’t find the path – we headed to Teotihuacan. A lovely camp site, again to ourselves, and 20km hiked around the stunning ruins – we can say we saw the sights! We are pretty sure we will be ‘templed’ out within a few weeks, but while we agreed that Mexico City wasn’t entirely a necessity, the ruins of Teotihuacan were well worth the early start.