FRIDAY (Viernes), May 27
Careful readers of this blog have no doubt noticed that we did not follow through on the plan to drive to from Puerto Vallarta directly to Guadalajara – Mexico’s second largest city. Instead, we are exploring the Zona Montaña south and west of Guadalajara.
I asked at the park’s oficina if the water at the campsites was potable. After a bit of hemming and hawing, the answer was “mas o meno (more or less).” I tried to fill our water tank using our 3-stage water filter, but the water pressure was too low to get through the filter. Even though we filter the water that does into the tank, we don’t drink it (though we could if we had to). We use it for washing dishes, brushing our teeth, etc.
We left the parque aquatico in Chimulco around nine headed for the charming (according to Lonely Planet) mountain town of Tapalpa (Tah-PAL-pah). Along the way we noticed the atmosphere was incredibly hazy, no doubt due to farmers burning off stubble in their fields. We drove through the pitaya capital of Mexico. (The pitaya is the fruit of the Cordon cactus (see pic)). Tapalpa (elev 2,100m ) is a pretty town with red tile roofs and cobblestone streets. Away from the plaza’s innumerable shops and restaurants catering to the day tripper clientele from Guadalajara, it morphs into a typical sleepy Mexican town with quiet deserted streets and houses behind walls.
After wandering around the streets away from the plaza looking for photo opportunities, we chanced on a gem of a restaurant – Antojitos Mexicanos Paula – or just “Paula’s.” Run by the good-natured Paula and her husband Salvadore, we ate pozole (hominy soup) for the first time. It came topped with shredded pollo (chicken). Optional toppings at the table were diced onion, shredded lettuce and limes. It was muy bueno (very good). Chris and I both ordered a “mini.” A full bowl of pozole would be enough for a meal. Then we really got to work. A flauta, 2 enchiladas, 2 gorditas, and 3 bebidas (sodas) came to the staggering sum of M$135, or $8. While eating we were treated to American music videos from the 60’s and 70’s playing on a large screen TV. Perhaps that was why we were the only diners?
The plan was to explore Tapalpa then drive further up the mountain to a rancho with an RV campground for the night. Our guidebook recommends calling the rancho rather than just showing up to insure the owners will be there. But the telephone number for the rancho didn’t work. At the tourist office the Tapalpa Director of Tourism told us that we could camp at a locally famous rock formation 5km outside of town. We eventually ended up across the road from the rock formation behind a restaurant next to a cattle pasture (see pix). The restaurant is owned or run (I couldn’t decipher which) by Pablo, who worked in various places in the Bay Area before returning to Mexico.
One of the benefits of camping at 6,000′ is that the temperature is much more comfortable than what is was in the valley. Last evening the temperature at sunset was somewhere in the 90’s – but it’s a dry heat. This evening the temperature is in the mid-70’s.
The pix. They’re in random order because WordPress keeps resetting my custom order. Suffice it to say, all the photos were taken around the plaza or somewhere in the town away from the plaza.