The Easy, The Hard & The Impossible. Part 2. When Google says “turn left”, follow the donkey shit.

Weather forcasts are interesting here. Almost every day the weather app on my phone says rain / thunder. Almost every day a quick check of the hourly forcast shows a shower around lunchtime, and another in the evening. Sometimes they happen. I’ve only once got properly wet in Mexican rain…

So I woke up on Sunday feeling right back on form; Arturo’s tequila must have been good medicine! I decide to pursue what had been my plan for Thursday before I was laid low, namely to go Mexican waterfall hunting.

According to Google the Cascada Los Azules Tequila is a mere 43 minute stroll from the hotel. It even suggests it is possible to drive there. It sounds like a good way of burning off any remaining surplus blood sugars. The weather forcast indicates the usual lunchtime shower…
I head out through the barrio on the other side of highway 15, and soon I’m on a pot-holed dirt track through fields of Blue Weber Agave that will one day become tequila.

I feel a rush of satisfaction, this is what I wanted to see.
The track gets narrower, and rougher. It soon reaches the point where it is obvious that not even 4x4s come down here. I leave the agave plantation behind on my right hand side and the scenery changes to uncultivated scrubland.

The “path” deteriorates even further, essentially becoming a natural obstacle course.
“Turn right” says Google. Sure enough there is a path through the scrub, just wide enough to accommodate a human torso. I plunge in.

For a couple of hundred yards this alleyway through the scrub is actually easier to navigate than the “path” I just left. Then two things happen; as the ground underfoot changes and it begins to rain.

As the path begins to drop away down the side of the valley the rock underfoot becomes deeply rutted, every step a potential twisted ankle. The situation is made worse by the now steady rain. The rocks are becoming slippery. The route twists back and forth as it descends into the valley. Some of the switchbacks becoming more like bouldering exercises than walking. And a new hazard has appeared; regular dollops of donkey shit. Actually I’m no expert on donkey digestive detritus, but I’m guessing it’s donkey shit.

Time, perhaps to consider the situation I find myself in. I’m halfway (I reckon) down a steep, rocky, slippery valley side. On one side dense foliage clings to a near vertical face, on the other is a precipitous drop. The jumble of rocks between the two is rarely more than a couple of feet wide, and often less. My footwear (good quality chelsea boots) isn’t really up to the job and I’m now soaked to the skin. On the other hand, the views are spectacular…

Logic suggests abandonment. But that smacks of defeat. I started this, I decide, and I’ll damn well finish it. That British bulldog spirit again; an innate ability to compensate for one’s lack of resources with a stiff upper lip and boundless recklessness. I press on.

After a little while the going gets a little easier again. A young Mexican family pass me going in the opposite direction, soaked to the skin in their shorts and t-shirts, their agility like mountain goats to my lumbering old bull.
“Turn left” says Google. There is no obvious left turn here. I press on another few yards, and sure enough a small gap appears in the foliage on my left. The path, such as it is, seems to peter out into a wall of scrub after just a few paces. I check my phone again. It appears to be frozen, still telling me to turn left.
I study the ground. The path I am on is still liberally decorated with donkey shit. The path to the left is not. I opt to follow the donkey shit. The route is much less steep now, and I am soon rewarded – I can hear my destination! Five minutes later I am sat beside the river, just downstream of the falls. Google’s projected 43 minutes has taken me two and a half hours – much of it spent navigating the worst terrain I have ever “walked”. I am exhausted to the point of retching, my thighs are in agony. I am drenched. And I still have to find my way back, without Google’s help ‘cos my phone has gone on strike. None of it matters, I said I would do this today, and I did it.

Anyway, going uphill is easier in a sense – I reckon if necessary I can do the more difficult sections on all fours. The only thing that worries me is all that donkey shit…

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