When Plans Go Awry

Lakes 1 WEB

Lagos de Montebello

Chiapas, MX

I have come to realize that when traveling, and plans go awry, the [real] adventure begins. That was certainly the case yesterday.  Joel and I booked a tour here in San Cristobal, on Wednesday for Friday, to Cascadas El Chiflón and Lagos de Montebello.  It’s a long day at the best of times.  We grabbed some quick toast and coffee at 7:45 a.m. and our driver showed up close to on time at about 8:15 a.m. but he was obviously grumpy.  We spent the next 45-minutes picking up other passengers at their various hotels.  Note:  These vans are not for gringos, especially when filled to capacity and beyond, and headed out for a very long trip.  Very cramped.   

Finally, at about 9:00 a.m. we headed to the border with Guatemala.  It’s about a 2-1/2 to 3 hour trip by aforementioned van.  The weather began to deteriorate almost immediately, heavy mist increasingly turning to thick cloud cover and eventually rain.  Not the  best weather for a photographer unfortunately, especially when shooting scenic’s.  We had a pleasant mix of international tourists, but our driver remained dour (actually, sour would be a better description).  I have found this attitude to be quite uncommon in Mexico, the opposite is more often the case.

Cascades WEB

Cascadas El Chiflón

Chiapas, MX

The falls at Cascadas El Chiflón was our first stop.  Beautiful as all the falls are here in Chiapas.  Our driver let us out, without so much as a by-your-leave, and said we should be back in 2-hours.  I don’t begrudge that he didn’t speak English—that’s on me, I begrudged his attitude (he treated everyone, even our fellow Mexican and Spanish tourists, with the same disrespect and lack of attention.  I’ve mentioned this caution before in the blog: Mexico doesn’t go overboard with safety precautions, you’re pretty much responsible for yourself (what a concept).  I personally like this feature of Mexico.  You want to be stupid, and fall into the raging torrent and drown, then have it.  With the recent storms the water was muddy, and overflowing its banks, but very dramatic nonetheless.

Cascades 2 WEB

Cascadas El Chiflón 

Chiapas, MX

I am very, very careful around running water, because I can’t swim worth a tinker’s damn, and I sink quickly with my hiking boots and camera gear.  Also, the rocks around scenes like this are very slippery and treacherous—having said that, the moment after clicking this photo, I slipped on the wet rocks.  With $4,000 USD worth of camera gear strapped around my neck I knew I wasn’t going to let it hit the rocks before I did.  And I didn’t. Consequently my camera body only has a few gently-received scratches, whereas my arm and leg received more damage.  When plans go awry, the adventure begins.

Cascades 4 WEB

Cascadas El Chiflón

Chiapas, MX

Cascades 5 WEB

 Cascadas El Chiflón

Chiapas, MX

Rejoining our van, we ventured on towards the 5 lakes of Lagos de Montebello—another long drive, and even closer to the border with Guatemala.  Again, no information from our driver, but we had come to expect that.  We were able to grab a quick bite, and though it was a bit expensive it tasted pretty good after having had only 4 pieces of toast and coffee for breakfast many hours before.  We could have eaten cheaper, better and sooner, but our driver appeared to have his place picked out already.  The lakes were nice, and the one in the top photograph was particularly stunning—however, the weather precluded any stellar images.  Just a hint of sun would have made the colors really pop.  But not everyday is a photographer’s day, so you just enjoy the sights like everyone else.

Lakes 3 WEB

Lagos de Montebello

Chiapas, MX 

Lakes 2 WEB

Chiapas, MX

Lagos de Montebello

As an added point of interest, the bright blue of the water is a combination of the natural water and a tad bit of sun.  I wish I had just a bit of that sun for the photo at the beginning of the post.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Boarding our van once again, it promptly broke down.  Limping along for many, many miles (and hours) our driver finally called his headquarters.  I know it wasn’t his fault, but he tempted Karma with his sour-grapes attitude (or maybe it was my attitude). Anyway, I AM BLAMING HIM.  More hours passed, and it was finally determined that another van (with a new driver) would meet us halfway, and we would transfer for the ride home.  We finally made it back to the hostel, and I slept like a dead man.  Although hard to endure, I’ve endured worse, and the story will grow in drama and magnitude as the years pass (of that you can be sure).

Special IMPORTANT note:  If you ever visit Chiapas, both Cascadas El Chiflón and Lagos de Montebello are worth the visit.  A good friend of mine took the exact same trip, with the exact same tour company (different driver) just last week and can’t stop talking about it.  And as mentioned before, as this story ages and mellows, it will grow beyond all reasonable proportions.  You will find most tour companies and their guides very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable—and the price is usually very reasonable.  This trip (some 14-hours long by the time it ended) was only 300 pesos or approximately $22 USD (that included transportation and all entry fees).  SFD

Tilley & Steve San Cristobal WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

On the road in Chiapas, MX

 

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2 responses to “When Plans Go Awry

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