Sunday, February 8, 2015

Route 120 to Puente de Dios. Or, God's Highway to God's Bridge.

The locals in this small indigenous town seemed not to know what to make of us, so they largely ignored us, but for a few friendly kids who ogled the bikes.

Prior to meeting Jose and Laura in Guanajuato, we hadn’t exactly been sure of our next destination, figuring perhaps we’d just head to Mexico City and then “South” from there. But in the course of a ten minute discussion about winding roads through high desert sierra, blue waters, illuminated swim-throughs and concrete art in the jungle, Jose had convinced us to take a ride up Route 120 to Tamasopo and then back down through Xilitla.

After a few days in the cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, we were thrilled to set up our tent under a tree, surrounded by cacti, just a little ways off Route 120.

Ahhhhhhh... :D Peace. It's good to be back in nature!

It was off of a dirt track that didn’t look well-used. Well, by tires, at least. The next morning a guy on a donkey rode by but did not notice us or just let us be.

These were all taken on Route 120 in the state of Querétaro. The photos we managed to take along this route don't do it justice, but hopefully you can get a feel for what an incredible road it is.

After some of the most beautiful riding we’ve encountered in Mexico, we finally arrived in Tamasopo. It’s a scruffy town that seems to want to cater to tourists coming to see the beautiful natural wonders of the area… but. it. just. can’t. quite. figure. out. how.

We followed elusive signs to Puente de Dios, both excited to get in the water and wash away the sweat and grime accumulated from the past two days of riding. We rode out of town and there were only sugar cane plantations with the occasional farm house, and towering mountains in the background. Sigh. This felt more like what we were looking for.

Until out of nowhere a little girl jumped out into the road in front of the bikes and started yelling about 20 pesos and waving her arms towards a patch of dirt on the side of the road. Totally startled I said “no gracias” and continued on. We rounded a bend in the road and there were another 6-7 children scattered along the road, all waving their arms and yelling to us. Eventually, we figured out that they were trying to get our “parking” business and offering to guard our bikes while we were hiking down to Puente de Dios. Wow. We understand everyone is just trying to make a buck to survive, but this was not exactly the peaceful experience we were looking forward to. Eventually, we settled on one lot that a young boy was selling convincingly and locked up the bikes. Farther down the road, we payed the fee (30 pesos) to what seemed to be a national parks service employee, and hiked down into the lushly forested canyon.

Guide ropes lead across the pool as the current can get quite strong in some spots.

The view, once we made it to the bottom, was spectacular. Rushing waterfalls poured into a beautiful blue pool that disappeared through the naturally made “Puente” and flowed out on the other side.

Given our our penchant for camping in the wild, people often ask what we do about showers, etc. Trust me, no hotel offers a better shower experience than this.

We took turns diving in, bathing under the waterfalls and swimming under the Puente. The Puente, for which the site is named, is actually cavernous once you get inside and light is reflected from the bottom of the riverbed, making it seem as though the entire cave is glowing from beneath. No wonder it is called the Bridge of God.

The river flows underneath the "Puente" and once you swim under the Puente, it opens up into a cavernous cave over your head. The light from the pools on either side of the Puente reflect up from the sand and gives you the feeling that that sandy bottom beneath you is glowing. Magical.

Completely refreshed, we hiked back up the mountain and asked the gentleman who owned the lot we had parked in if we could set up our tent and stay for the evening. For another 50 pesos, he was more than willing and accommodating, and so we stayed.

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