Mexico 49, 21st June 2004

I was a bit cold during the night even with the sleeping bag, but when I put on more clothes and spread my blanket out over the sleeping bag and it was OK. In the morning I found out why it was cold, it had been snowing. A damp, sleety sort of snow, it had settled on the van in places. The furnace in the van doesn't work at high altitudes so I had to remember ideas from my childhood (before central heating) and snuggle the fresh clothes in the sleeping bag to warm up before putting them on. (Marvelous isn't it. The heating doesn't work when I'm high up and it's cold and I can't use the air conditioning when it's too hot).

However, things improved with a hot coffee, both stove burners running full blast for a short while,(I don't want carbon monoxide poisoning) and a new man on the gate who, with a bit of persuasion, let me drive up to the crater. Here's the road at the start, with snow above.

Here's some views.

There's lots of those little pointy hills around. These sort of huge panoramic views do not show up well on photos but I'll have to mark Nevada de Toluca down as the best huge views of my trip so far.

When I reached the crater I thought this was it. But round the corner was another lake.

Yes, I did climb a bit to get this photo. The next picture might give an idea. I've given a hint to help spot the van.

A young man I'd already talked to caught up with me here, he'd run up the mountain. He's been here 20 days, training for marathon running, he's hoping for the next Olympics. So far his best time is 2h 15 min, the world record is 2h 5min. Anyway, when we were a bit lower down he said we were around 4,500m so I guess this was taken from about 4,550m or almost 15,000 ft.

Yes I know, almost same photo as the last one. But one's got the van in, one's got me in. Looking the other way from when we were lower down there was lots of snow on the mountainside.

Yes that white really is snow. On the climb up, on the sunny side, there were some gorgeous flowers scattered about.

As I drove down I re entered the tree line, more flowers, wild lupins I think.

Soon after I reached the main road I was waved down by Fernando who I'd also talked to earlier, he was lunching from the back of a pickup with some others from his club "Mountain Magicians" - they go around climbing mountains. So I joined them for a pleasant snack and a drink and a sort of chat then when it came on to rain it put short to the proceedings and I continued to Valle de Bravo, passing through luscious thick green pine forests before I decided I didn't like driving in the rain so I pulled off the road down a short track and stopped by an aeromodeler's flying field, and that's where I am now.

It was not so cold during the night, and in the morning I continued down through the tall pine forests which are more like the French or Swiss Alps than any thought of Mexico, even to the fields occasionally appearing as breaks in the forest.

I really needed to find a laundry. I was down to my last shirt, a new one, Marks and Spencers, present from my Mum years ago, I had been saving it, well I needed it today! I found a laundry, dumped my clothes etc., and went to look for the camp site. Another thing I needed was a proper shower. I found what appeared to be the right place on the lakeside, from the description in the book, but couldn't find the way in. Not to worry. After I'd driven past it a couple of times a battered old pickup stopped alongside me and the driver waved me to an opening in the fence. The driver, the boss, had noticed me driving past in my motor home and had come to collect me. The fee of 100 pesos is more than I have ever paid before, but I really needed that shower, and the service is pretty good.....Three men came to light the boiler just for me for my shower, there are no other visitors so they had put it out. Mostly the place here is a storage and launching place for boats on the lake, there are a few caravans in storage too. Those are trailer homes in American speak.

The view is superb. This time more like the Italian lakes than Mexico. This is the view from my parking spot.

After my shower I pulled out my chair, fixed a margarita, enjoyed the view, and read my guide books. Then I went back to explore Valle de Bravo with it's lovely old cobbled streets and nice plaza.

Tomorrow I think I'll drive around the lake, maybe climb that hill just opposite, behind the houses in my picture, which the man cutting grass told me gives a beautiful view over the town and the lake.

Best regards

David Barker

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