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Friday, February 20, 2015

Mexico: Hiking the Sierra Madre in Los Ayala

Today was an unexpected bit of pleasure. We met Robin's friends in Guayabitos for lunch a few days ago and they told us that each Friday, a group of people go on a 10 km hike from Los Ayala, over the Sierra Madre mountains to a town called El Monteón. We decided to join the group. I didn't bring hiking boots but runners worked almost as well. There were about 15 people along for the hike and I wondered if it might be too strenuous after a winter of only indoor walking. 

We started out at about 7:30am and walked to the south end of the beach to wait for Tim and the rest of the group who drove from Guyabitos. They arrived and soon after the group of us headed into the hills which was an immediate incline. Five minutes into the hike, we stopped because the usual path was rained out. Someone (who's done this before) stretched open a barbed wire fence and the rest of us gingerly climbed through so as not to get snagged on the sharp barbs. I felt like I was a kid again, trying to steal some neighbour's low hanging juicy fruit if only I could stretch just a few inches past the barbed wire. 

It was a strenuous, steep, 15 minute, chest-exploding incline before the ground levelled out and we had a well-deserved 2 minute pause  and we continued along a cleared path in otherwise dense vegetation. 



Then the area opened up into a vast area of endless pineapple fields. 



We passed a gate and just as suddenly the pineapple fields ended and we came upon this scene - a fully groomed piece of land with palm trees and a perfect road. The only thing missing was a world class resort. I found out a few minutes later that a developer was supposed to build a hotel but ran out of money and could not complete it. I am surprised that someone is still up-keeping the place.   



Just past the perfect road, we can upon some orange trees but the fruits were too high to pick. If I had some more time (really what I mean is - if I wasn't walking with a group of people) I would have climbed the tree and picked some fruit.  


Then lo and behold, there was a giant tamarind tree right before my eyes! I had a flash back to childhood when I used to spend time playing under the tree with Bena and Karran and sometimes with Farida and Basheer. The tree was huge and had branches hanging to the ground so that it formed a natural fort that we could play under. It was to tall that I could easily stand and I was already close to 5 feet tall when I was about 10 years old. 


We walked a bit more around a few bends in the road and came upon the beaches of Playa Punta Raza. The waves are quite a bit rougher and the water higher. I'd be worried about swimming here because I am not a strong swimmer and I'd be worried about undercurrents. 

Playa Punta Raza




 We stopped and had a short rest before heading off on gradual but pretty long and steady incline of about one kilometre and reached the top of the mountain which overlooked the beautiful valley below that was El Monteón. After a few pictures, one of the women said that the town below was our final destination. It looked like a long way down but it was down so that was a good thing. 



Down, down, down to the edge of town which had a river (or maybe it was a creek) which was overflowing the bridge. We had two choices:  walk through the water and get our runners wet or carefully walk on the low posts on the left of the bridge (visible in the picture) and hope not to fall into the river while doing so. I made it across, although some of the stumps were a bit slippery from the water. I gave a huge sigh of relief that I didn't fall or get my feet wet. An older woman who was right behind me started walking across and by the time she was about 3 stumps in, she could not stretch her foot to reach the next stump. She stood there straddling the two and teetering in the posts and I was sure she was going to be in the river any second. I walked back into the water on the bridge (after just priding myself for crossing with dry feet), gave her my hand and crossed her to the other side. We both ended up with wet runners but the alternative was her in the river and one of us going in to rescue her. This seemed like a better option. 

If you are Guyanese or ever lived on a farm, the scene below would be familiar. A fowl pen with baby chicks, a rabbit, guinea fowls, and a couple of guinea pigs. A few hundred metres and a bend in the road and we were in the town proper. 



It was a cute little place with brightly coloured buildings and so Mexican that I instantly fell in love with it. Looking around, I felt like I was in a Western movie where anytime now, I could expect an hombre to walk out with his guns blazing. 


We stopped at a small restaurant for a late breakfast (late from 7am but still rather early at 10am). The huevos rancheros, tortillas and fresh carrot and orange juice cost a total of about CDN $5 and that included a tip! It cost almost as much to get a collectivo back to Los Ayala. 

A well-spent day. I wonder if I'll be sore tomorrow. Don't think so. I've been averaging about 15,000 steps each day and most of it in the sand so my legs should be feeling good tomorrow. 

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