Our bus wasn't
first class, but at least it
wasn't the "Chicken Bus"! On the other hand, we think the shocks were original
As we gained
altitude the temperatures dropped. The seats were not a soft
as they looked, still, all was good.
When we arrive at
a new location, our first stop is inside the bus station to check
the schedule for times and prices of the next leg of the trip. In this case we will
be traveling to San Luis Soyatlan in a couple of days. As you can see, the
price (listed under the Dollar sign on the right) is 45 Pesos per person.
Alternately, we could take any bus going to
times and prices when we arrive saves us a trip to the station
later. It also avoids any confusion in receiving different answers when
asking in town about times the buses leave or how much they cost.
Well, well, well.
We arrived to soup-like fog mixed with light rain and much colder temps.
Hurricane Rick was raging on the west coast of Mexico, and we were receiving the outer
bands of that weather system.
You can't see it
by this photo, but Mazamitla is a pine forest wonderland built high
up in the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Tigre - 2,200 meters
above sea level.
The name of the
town comes from a Nahuatl word meaning 'the place where arrows are
made for hunting deer'. Tourist books call Mazamitla 'the
Switzerland of Mexico' and it's an ideal place for camping holidays,
But today, we
simply wanted to stay dry and warm!
The local drink
is called Pajarete which is a concoction of milk,
aguardiente (firewater or brandy), brown sugar and chocolate. Also
called rompope, it is made in other flavors as well. Here you
see the shelves lined from the top with rompope, cajeta de nuez
which is a caramel sauce with nuts, canned fruit, other sweets and nuts
by the bag.
What does one do
when chilled to the bone? Order the Mexican dish
molcajete. This one was a mixta with pork, beef and
shrimp in a borracho (drunk) sauce made with beer and
bubbling over with melted cheese. The serving dish is made of
volcanic rock from the region which is placed in the oven and
brought out sizzling and spitting.
This was an order
for one, but with tortillas it easily served two of us and it is
We weren't used
to this wet, frosty weather, but the locals took it in
Life goes on in
this mountain village, at least for those willing to brave the
The next morning
the sun burst open and the colors of the town came alive. The
temperature was still very crisp, but with the sunlight it seemed
This was one of
the few places we have visited in Mexico where the town or church
clock actually worked, and had the correct time!
All over Mexico
we see the older generation of men sitting around the plaza chatting
away with each other - a skill that Billy is determined to perfect.
Plazas are the
gathering place in any Mexican town or city.
This couple may
have been returning from the market which was just down the street
to the right. We saw no trash lying about, and the buildings were in
very good condition. This is a well kept town.
On our wanderings
that day we came across Hostal El Ciervo Rojo set in a 150 year old home.
Rooms rent for 400 Pesos per person and included a private bath. There
are enough beds to provide
for 16 sleepers a night. With an open country kitchen, large dining
room and an interior
garden, it was a lovely place to stay.
the elderly in the nations we visit invariably stir me.
One can tell just
by looking, that this woman chooses comfortable shoes to walk in and
isn't pretentious. She is more than likely a widow, wearing her
husband's wedding band on her middle right finger, too large for her own ring finger. Her shawl
protects her head and shoulders from the chill and you can tell that
her careworn day apron has seen many a meal being made. A feminine floral dress
covers her sweater and leg warmers. She's a survivor.
flower pots line the street heading towards the market. There are
potted plants and benches for sitting all along this pristine road.
In search for the
perfect taco, this place was recommended as serving the 'greatest
taco known to humanity.' She served steaming, tender chunks of beef
brisket on fire-warmed tortillas. Outstanding flavor and quantity
for 8 Pesos each.
Later on that
evening the temperatures went from crisp to cold. Out strolling, we discovered
this food stand serving atole, which is an
beverage with origins in pre-Columbian times. It is thickened with
masa (corn flour) and hits the spot on mountain-fresh evenings.
Corn is an
integral part of Mexican history and cuisine.
This grilled corn
on the cob was served with a mixture of
grated cheese and butter. To the left in the photo you can see the
tamales (also made of corn) wrapped in corn husks staying steaming hot.
The corn drink atole is in the container behind the young
After 2 nights in Mazamitla it was time to head on back to
Since we confirmed our times previously, we had little wait for our
bus at the station. This bus was more comfortable than the one we
took to arrive here. Notice how clean it is!
We made a stop
in San Luis Soyatlan to see a view of our Mexican home town from
across the lake. On the right of the photo you will see Chapala
proper, with the pier strutting out into the lake. Heading towards
the middle and left of the photo you see the houses of San Antonio
and Ajijic dotting the hillside.
Resting here on
the malecon in San Luis, our traveler's group photo shows our hats from
the hat factory in Sahuayo.
We inquired about
taking a boat across the lake to Chapala to finish this adventure instead of riding the bus, but all of the
fishermen were out fishing this time of day. No boats were available!
days it took to complete
the trip around Lake Chapala and there are towns and
places we have yet to see. The more we travel the more we are
convinced that there is no end to the discovery!