After a couple of days visiting some cañóns in Mineral de Chico it was time to move on. Packing up camp I caught a colectivo back into Pachuca visiting the ‘famous’ clock. I sat in the square a while charging my phone and deciding what to do. I contacted some people through couchsurfing to see if they wanted to do anything, but nothing eventuated. Deciding to splurge a little I decided to find a hostel. Some girls randomly gave me a ride when I was looking for the first hostel. I tried three in total. The first was closed, the second full and the guy at the third was so rude I gave up and decided to climb one of the nearby mountains to camp. Straying from centro the streets were littered with rubbish. The streets were steep but it wasn’t long before I was on a trail on the mountainside. Leaving the trail, I aimed for an area that seemed less step and found a nice spot behind a eucalyptus. I settled in for the night. I had nice views over the city 🙂

In the morning I headed back to the square and talked to my uncle for a while. Things were continuing to change at home. It was hard to believe it’s been three years now since I left! I started waking to the bus terminal and met Sem Pachu a English teacher at the nearby school. We talked a while and grabbed some fruit from the market opposite the bus terminal. I’d decided last night to visit Grutas de Tolantongo. I knew it would be crouded, but it seemed like a place I shouldn’t miss. 60 pesos to Ixmiquilpan, 10 to get to the other bus terminal, a half hour wait and another 50 to get to Tolantongo. The entrance fee was 140. I was charged 280, but later found out they’d charged me double… A bit annoying 😦

Approaching the river the desert landscape was interrupted by a bright blue river. Stone walls had been built across it at regular intervals and many people were enjoying the warm waters. I quickly found a spot to dump my pack and hopped in. Despite the bath-like temperatures it was still refreshing.

After setting up my tent, I went to visit the cave. I half expexted to have to pay to enter both the “grotto” and “tunnel” – as is the Mexican way, but both were free and busy. It was a pretty special place. Cold and hot waterfalls outside and numerous showerheads/matacanes within the cave spraying hot water. The temperature was prefect! A tunnel with considerable current led to another room with a large waterfall in a corner that had been roped off. Why, I can not say.

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I soon left the darkness and returned to the entrance room. Making a visit to the “tunnel” above. It felt like the hottest water. Soon it became too much and I returned to soak in the cooler waters below.

It was a social place and I wish I had come with other people. With only my own company I decided I’d had enough and went to grab some food. I then relaxed in my tent and started reading “the Art of Travel”. It was different to what I was expecting – talking about the nuances between what we remember from a trip and all the little things in between the memories or things we remember – many of them the more unpleasant things.

It seems that unlike the continuous enduring contentment that we anticipate, our actual happiness with (and in a place), must be brief and at least to the conscious mind, apparently [a] haphazard phenomenon: an interval in which we achieve receptivity to the world around us, in which positive thoughts of the past and future coagulate and anxieties are allayed. The condition rarely endures for longer than ten minutes. New patterns of anxiety inevitably form on the horizon of consciousness, like the weather fronts that mass themselves every few days off the western coast of Ireland. The past victory ceases to seem impressive, the future acquires complications and the beautiful view becomes as invisible as anything which is always around.

It also talked about people liking to be in places of travel. Airports, trains, etc. I couldn’t really relate to this except maybe for train hopping.

Light began to fail. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to camp where I was, and wasn’t sure if camping was free (I think it was), so I climbed up the slope to an overhang and made camp on a tiny ledge that required me to extend it by jamming a triangular rock between some boulders and raising one side with the ropes and other things in my pack.

In the morning I packed, dropped down and set up my tent in the same spot. I grabbed some breakfast from the same place I’d eaten at the day before and went for another soak. I was going to pay another visit to the tunnel too, but it was too crowded and I turned around. The disadvantage of visiting during the Mexican holidays.

The advantage was that when I decided to leave and the bus was still over 2hrs away I managed to get a ride back into Ixmiquilpan. ?? was actually working in California and was heading to the airport. I caught a bus with him into the city. We grabbed some pizza and I then shared his taxi to the airport. Atzin was running late, so I had about 6hrs to wait around before walking to his place about an hour away. I was harassed by a guy when I left the footpath by the main rd. I retreated and went the long way ’round.

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