Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jalisco - Tapalpa, Mexicans' Mountain Getaway

Tapalpa, a "magical" town in the mountains - the description sold me so I signed up for the tour.

En route I discovered that "a magical city or town" is one that has hotels and activities for visitors, not necessarily one that is unusually charming or psychic. Keep that in mind as you travel through Mexico.

Tapalpa is where Guadalajarans go when heat and work become oppressive, much as Floridians flock to the North Carolina mountains in the summer.

The persistent rain dampened much of Tapalpa's charm although the wildflowers at 7,000 feet were spectacular.

We drove out to the piedrotes, huge volcanic boulders in what romantics referred to as Valley of Enigmas. They looked interesting, but lashings of rain deterred what could have been idyllic and photogenic rambles.

"How did they get there?" we asked our guide. "Volcanoes?"

Usually knowledgeable, he shook his head. "Too far away, I think." Later learned they were of volcanic origin, the only explanation for such huge lumps or rock to crop up in the middle of nowhere.

Tip: It's about as flat as Tapalpa gets here, so we Levelers could enjoy a walk, weather permitting.

Tapalpa streets are cobblestone, good for photographers but bad for automotive suspensions. ATVs and four-wheel drive trucks are the vehicles of choice.

The colonial architecture is appealing and, as almost always in this fascinating state, one finds beauty behind what appear to be plain Jane walls. 

Fans of extreme sports and mountain hiking will find more to love about Tapalpa than we Levelers can, but if you want a long drive (90 minutes from Guadalajara  at least) through the countryside and into the mountains on a pretty day, it's a very scenic choice.


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