The gulf coast region of Huestaca is known for all sorts of adventure activities: from the hub for whitewater kayaking in Mexico, to spelunking, caving, and rappelling. Needless to say we were drawn to the area and took an overnight bus Friday night to Ciudad Valles. We even took two unsupecting victims with us on our adventure, Phil and Severine. Although its not the season for whitewater, the guys at Kayak Huasteca told us that heavy rains (read: flooding of 30 year proportions) earlier in the year left enough volume to run the waterfalls at Rio Micos. Yes! Since the volume is down the waterfalls are mostly class II so taking our friends who’ve never whitewater kayaked before would be ok. Or just that they probably would not die on the adventure. 🙂
Aaron, Marjie, and Tomato outfitted us with gear and we headed off to do some whitewater kayaking in Mexico! Hola, Rio Micos. After a substantial climb down to the river, including a few slips, we suited up, gave our friends a mini lesson in how not to die (ie. how to get out of the boat safely), and headed down our first waterfall. A series of 8 with large deep pools in between, I will admit that I was definitely scared on the first and maybe the second. By the third I was having a great time and wanted to do each one again and again.
One, called the serpent, was particularly fun and Phil, Danny and I ran it backwards. Eventually the waterfalls got bigger and bigger and when the boat hit the bottom we would completely submerge before coming back up for air. I think the largest one we did was a 15 foot (5m) free fall! It was scarey going over the edge of the waterfall, but the water cushions your fall if you land correctly. Fortunately all of us did and we came up smiling again and again, even those of us that came up outside our boats. (I think it only happened once though!)
It was an awesome day on the river, the water was warm and the sun was hot so we got out at some of the falls for a swim and even a jump or two off the falls. Although scrambling up the rocks with boats was a bit of a challenge, especially for our newbies, it was a lot of fun and definitely a good first place to kayak waterfalls. The take out was at a picnic area full of local families enjoying a lazy Saturday at the river and the smell of roasting chicken was overwhelming. We packed up the gear, headed back into town, grabbed some food and bid our new friends farewell and hit the bus station.
Got to Xilitla (first person to pronounce that right, no seriously, gets a postcard!) after dark and attempted to find our accommodations, Cabanas Las Pozas. Cabanas in the jungle right at the landmark we were going to in the morning, Las Pozas, incredible right? According to lonely planet they were in the park, we jumped in a cab, got to the park and…..not so much. No cabanas. After an hour in the jungle around Laz Pozas, driving back and forth a number of times without finding the right cabanas we settled on other privately operated cabanas outside the park. A tad more expensive, they at least had hot water and a place to lay our heads. Many discussions with the cab driver and locals determined that the Mexican government wanted more money for the cabanas, the park refused and closed down the cabanas either a month ago or a year ago (seriously, thats what we were told, what a time difference!). Lesson learned – the coolest and cheapest option might not exist. Create a plan B.
Las Pozas, the main attraction in Xilitla, is a surreal garden park in the middle of the Xilitla jungle. This was of course not of Mexican design, but that of a strange British man, Sir Edward James. In love with the area around Xilitla, he spent several decades and almost $5million USD to build a surreal jungle park with lots of strange sculptures and different open air buildings. Huge concrete flowers and concrete stairs to nowhere gave us something to climb on and great views of the area, but I could not really connect with James vision of the place. It almost felt like we should be in SE Asia, but we were definitely in Mexico. It was unusual to say the least. Never completed and not taken care of in his will, Las Pozas is quickly becoming another Mexican ruin… a very surreal feeling ruin. Overgrown and being consumed by the jungle, the concrete sculptures and unfinished buildings add a sense of despair to the garden.