A Tranquil Day In Mexico
By Margie Keane
Our tranquil day started with a conversation with my husband, Tom, “When the Grays come to visit, let’s take them to Mazamitla. This book says it’s situated in the middle of a pine forest and nearby there’s a great waterfall and lots of flowers. They’re such nature lovers, this will be perfect.”
Tom’s idea of “loving nature” is sitting in our hot tub, cold drink in hand, admiring our bougainvillea. Grumbling, he said, “Let’s take them on the Tequila Express. They’ll get mariachis, refreshments, and see all the nature they want out the train windows.”
“Mazamitla,” I said.
“We’ll probably have to tromp through the woods, climb over boulders. I’ll bet there are snakes. Poisonous snakes!”
I patted his head and said, “We’ll go tomorrow and check it out before we take them.”
The drive to Mazamitla was pleasant, and well worth it just to see it and to be in such clean piney air. We arrived at an Alpine village just in time for a wonderful lunch and then we set out in search of the waterfalls or Cascadas. We followed some pretty bad directions that took us in circles and up a couple of dead end roads, but eventually we got there.
Upon arrival we saw a large gate with a guard and assumed we had to pay to drive through. The paying part was right but we weren’t allowed to drive through. Even though this is a state forest, it is a gated community inhabited by private home owners. Outside the gate was a vaquero on a horse holding three other horses.
“Renta los caballos?” he asked.
There was a sign when we paid our entry fee that said: Cascadas tres kilometers. We figured we could easily walk it so we declined the offer, to which he replied in Spanish, a sly smile playing on his face, “You’ll be sorry.”
We started down the road paved with very smooth stones, admired the foliage, the views and the wonderful homes. There were also strategically placed resting spots with benches, shade and water fountains. Tom said, “We must be getting close,” and around the next curve we found a sign that said, “To Cascadas.” We walked on, came to another sign that said, Cascada tres kilometers.
As we walked on we started critiquing the homes. The foliage didn’t seem so special and the rest stops became harder to find. Tom said, “Maybe we should have rented horses.” Soon there was another sign that said Cascada dos kilometers.
We were hot and pretty tired. We decided when we brought the Grays we would definitely rent horses. We finally got to the falls only to find that if we actually wanted to see them it was a half -hour walk up a precipitous path with stairs that were in verybad shape.
A Mexican woman was coming down the stairs and in our halting Spanish we asked about the waterfalls. She told us they were dried up. We looked at each other, shook our heads, bought two bottles of water from a vender and headed back.
Then we met Victor. He had horses to rent for the trip back. Good idea we thought. Not so. Victor assured me that my horse was “muy tranquil.” I discovered later that this was all Victor could say in English. The horse was muy tranquilo but the equipment was muy savage. I couldn’t make Victor understand that my stirrups needed to be shortened and that the knots in the cinch straps were cutting into the insides of my knees. I finally gave up and off we went.
Too late we remembered we had not seen any horses as we walked to the cascadas. It’s because the horses take a different path! They go over a dusty road that goes up steep inclines and almost straight down the other side. Victor kept telling me to stand up in my stirrups to make the ride easier. I would have been happy to comply but my stirrups were so long I couldn’t reach them and my knees were frozen in place.
About two-thirds of the way back to our car I couldn’t stand the pain any longer. I screamed “Stop!!” I told Tom I would rather walk – or crawl if necessary than sit on “Muy Tranquilo” for one more minute and I was dismounting. Well, that should have been easy enough right? But no! My poor arthritic knees refused to bend. I tried getting off on the left side, then the right but could not bend my knees enough to get them over the horse. Victor decided he would bend them for me, causing terrible pain. Once again I yelled “Stop!” He did, but I was still on the horse.
Well, this is just great, I thought, Will I have to spend the rest of my life astride this horse? It should be fun hostessing dinner parties, sitting at the table on a horse. Wonder if a bed pan will fit on this saddle. What if I die on this horse? How deep will my, or/our grave be? Maybe we can be cremated. Do they cremate horses? Maybe we could both be stuffed and placed at the beginning of this trail with a sign reading ”Muy Tranquilo.”
In my delirium I thought I heard cavalry trumpets. It was Tom to the rescue!! He told me to put my hands on his shoulders, and then he walked backward, literally dragging me off the horse. Hallelujah!! By sheer will I started walking albeit looking like one of the old men in the Ballet Foklorico. Thank the lord a Mexican family came along and offered to take us to our car.
On our way home, I smiled sweetly at Tom and said, “The Tequila Express sounds like a great plan.”
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com