A lazy start to the day (4th November 2014). Just as well because I was feeling rather jaded from jetlag and lack of sleep. After breakfast Derek and I had a wander around the locality of the Hotel Maria Cristina where we stayed. It is located in a quiet street quite close to the main business district. We went to Independence Square where a tall monument dominates the traffic circle that surrounds it. We thought it too early to risk life and limb trying to teach it so contented ourselves looking at it across the streaming traffic.
Back at the hotel we whiled away the time until our 11am pick up by Ricardo and Miriam. Today we were due to be off first to La Scala and then to La Malinche. However, a traffic hold up put paid to La Scala when we were held up for over an hour. Shame because La Scala is supposed to be a picturesque historical town. Instead we headed for Huamantla in the State of Tlaxcala for a late lunch.
Huatmantla is centred on a main square and is dotted with churches. The square has nice pastel coloured buildings. Although a Tuesday early afternoon, the square was filled with all ages with more children joining as schools finished for the day. Derek and I explored the town separately after the meal. Away from the square the buildings soon looked as though they could do with attention. But there was activity everywhere. Even backstreets had small convenience stores. Two men were emptying a van of dried meat. A hairdresser seemed to be doing a brisk trade, shops 2 metres wide were selling clothes, food, liquor, phones, tobacco. It seemed as though one could acquire anything here.
Although we were now at 2,500 metres, the sun was warm, shining in the unbroken blue sky. Immediately to the west the ancient volcano of La Malinche stood proud of the town. To the east, Pico de Orizaba rose against the blue sky, its snow-capped top looking as though someone had poured thick icing over its almost perfect volcano shape. With nothing around it, El Pico (as the locals call it) dominates the landscape for miles around.
En route we had passed Mexico’s other giants, Popacatapetl (with steam clearly visible rising from its summit crater) and Iztaccihuatl. These are the second and third highest mountains in Mexico and each over 5,000m. The authorities have banned climbers from Popacatapetl for many years because of the volcanic activity.
La Malinche and Iztaccihuatl are our next two objectives.
Tonight the four of us are staying in a cabin on the side of La Malinche with an alpine start promised. The weather’s calm with an almost full moon rising. Tomorrow we attempt to ascend around 1,400m – a real test for our acclimitisation. In the meantime Derek has been entertaining us with some guitar playing and we’ve both been scaring off the local wildlife with our singing.