Canyon and cacti


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North America » Mexico » Guanajuato » San Miguel de Allende
September 25th 2018
Published: September 25th 2018
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Botanical Gardens


This morning we are off on our tour so we are down in the cafe for breakfast at 8am. Christian is already slicing oranges ready to put them through the press. Ian orders the same veggie omelette that he had yesterday...I am tempted and order pancake with blackberries though I strongly suspect that these are not blackberries as we know them! Breakfast arrives and the pancake is not as we know it either! Three huge pancakes a bit like scotch pancake in consistency but twice as thick, and all covered in blueberries. Very nice all the same although I cannot manage to eat all three!

After breakfast we sort ourselves out and take a slow amble up to the meeting point for the tour. It isn’t far and we have arrived half an hour early so we sit on a bench enjoying the sunshine as a few other folk arrive for the tour. We pass the time of day with an American who now lives here...apparently it’s a popular retirement choice right now. I can certainly see the attraction.

It’s 10am and Albert has turned up to deliver the blow that there has been a hitch this morning. The site only allows limited visitors and the 9am bus broke down, meaning that Albert’s 10am tour has been put back to midday. Do we really want to embark on a 4 hour trip in the middle of the desert at noon? I don’t think so! We have the option to rebook for tomorrow at 9am and decide that would be a much better decision!

So now to switch plans. A trip to the botanical gardens was on the cards for tomorrow so now we will do it today. A great pity it’s so late though...we have missed the only shuttle bus so we decide to walk. Oh well, at least it might walk off some of those pancakes!

The walk (which really does not look very far at all on the map) proves challenging - mainly because it involves a long steep climb up through uneven cobbled streets in searing heat. It’s a relief to find a nice flat road at the top...though it’s pretty long and also cobbled. At the end of this road we reach a T junction which is not on our map. It’s time to consult google maps. It turns out that we have walked half a km too far. We retrace our steps and signs for the garden are clear...just a pity that they didn’t have signs facing in the other direction!

At last we arrive at the gardens and begin our walk. Now we need to explain that this is not a tropical botanical garden so anyone expecting verdant flora and fauna would be disappointed! The garden is home to hundreds of different species of cacti along with natural wildlife including butterflies, squirrels, giant grasshoppers and huge red ants.

We wind our way down on a well marked path edged with cacti, down past a hot house and finally find ourselves at the reservoir. Following the edge, we make our way to the 19th century dam. Ordinarily there is a path across the dam but there’s about a foot of water covering it so we can only get part way. Presumably this is because we are here at the end of wet season, but I am astounded that there is no sign or barrier stating that it’s currently dangerous to cross! Unfortunately it means missing a couple of the viewpoints but we will not be chancing it!

We retrace our steps back from the reservoir dam to the main path and pick up the route around a very scenic canyon with lookout points, waterfalls and the ruins of a 17th century water mill. We turn a corner, leaving the canyon behind, to be greeted with spectacular views of San Miguel, the Rio Laja Valley and Guanajuato mountain range.

It’s now 1245 and we have two choices. To cover the rest of the trail quite quickly in order to catch the 1300 bus back into town or to take our time and walk back! Although it will be all downhill going back, I am in favour of the former - especially as we are almost at the end of the trail.

The path returns us to reception, passing a sculpture trail and the plaza of the four winds - a ceremonial space with more fine views back over the canyon. There is also an observatory and a children’s play space - an adventure playground which looks decidedly unsafe by UK standards.

We have arrived back just in time, as a smart minibus now pulls up giving us a free ride back into town. It’s a slow ride down as the bus takes the steep cobbled hill very steadily - but it’s a welcome hitch all the same!

Back in town we are dropped by a fruit and veg shop. Here we pick up some very good quality avocados and peaches - so now it’s back to our room for shower, lunch and siesta!

This evening, after a reccy of the restaurants in town, we decide to go back to the Italian place we found a couple of days ago. The food was yummy and we had excellent service. We are not disappointed. Ian has chicken paprika and I have chicken wrapped in cheese, spinach and bacon. Both come with carrots, brocolli and marrow. OK, I’m really not keen on marrow but it’s nice to have some fresh veg. During our meal it starts to chuck it down...we’re talking real torrential stuff here! It has been hammering on the plastic corrugated roof covering our half of the restaurant and now we have a few drops squeezing through. The staff come over and move us to tables on the other side - they are obviously used to it. Lucky we are eating early and the restaurant is only half full :-).

We have finished our meal and the rain has stopped. Outside there is literally a river running down the street. Now, the main danger will be from vehicles splashing through the puddles! We also have to watch out for the building spouts. They don’t seem to bother with guttering here - just a long overflow spout which channels the water straight out to the street gutters. We dodge the overflows and the drivers are taking it slow so we make it back without incident.


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