Estela sends Fernando up the stairs with a pitcher of Auga de Tuna. The day is clear, dry but not too hot. Green mountains shine today but other days you hardly know they are there, the air is so ‘obscuro’ with clouds and smoke.
We plan our journey to Ixtlán.
Ixtlán is over those mountains. The roads are cut as you can see. There are very few ‘straight-a-ways’.
Looking back we see Oaxaca Valley where Oaxaca city lies. Smoke and haze fill the valley most days, but is not unpleasant.
In Ixtlán, we look back over the mountains we crossed. The ride took about an hour in a ‘collectivo’ taxi, one with 5 of us and the driver. The cost was about 30 pesos each (approx. $2.50). You can’t imagine how many and constant the curves are until you have traveled these mountain roads. Joy took 2 Dramamine for the return trip (and she NEVER takes meds!).
The most prominent view in each pueblo is the local church. Ixtlán had 3 or 4, but this was the largest.
Well above Ixtlán in the forest are cabins. We enjoyed our one night stay. It was cold enough to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, especially at night. These mountains are QUIET. Rain fell most of the day after we arrived and through the night. It was very comfortable, and we fell asleep watching fireflies out the windows.
Our first day we hiked the surrounding hills in light rain. Clouds floated over the mountain tops around us and in the valleys below us.
There are many pines, and the air was wonderful.
We heard of a cave not far away. We found it by following a stream until it disappeared into the mouth of the cave.
Joy and I wandered in as far as we dared. Once it got too dark and we could hear squeaks of disturbed bats, we turned back.
Our next day we followed the dirt road down to the river to find the other side of the cave, where the water that enters the first cave comes out. You can walk through, about a 150 yards, but it is quite dark.
There is a big ledge on the upper left that kept dry during rain because of the overhang. We could imagine this spot being used by the ‘locals’ for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The water is clear and cold!
I ventured in to peer into the maw. I did not go much further. It might have had something to do with the two LARGE bats that flew out. They did not seem to be very happy with my disturbing their nap. The logs I had to cross to get where I was were precarious. Hey, that water is COLD and that stretch that looks deep…I could not see the bottom, although it is crystal clear. Raul told us later that it is 17 meters deep.
The two of us (there was no one else for miles) wandered down the ‘river’. Water flowed out of the mountainside in many places near the cave with stelagtites and stelagmites slowly growing, ferns of many types and rocks of every color.
We were not looking forward to the walk back up the road. It was easy coming down, but a long hike back at a steep angle! Joy found a small trail up the side of the mountain through the forest that cut off about a mile!
Our Journey to Ixtlán was, as they say here, ‘vale la pena’ (well worth the trouble).