Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Camping in Cuatro Ciénegas - Part II

We couldn't help going to Cuatro Ciénegas for the second time for camping, for it's sheer beauty and isolation. We hit Mex53 highway by 3 in the noon, it was a late start for a 300km drive. We reached Rio Mezquite camping area of Cuatro Ciénegas lit by a pleasant twilight at 7:00. It was too late, too windy and too cold for taking a dive in the river. Without wasting much time we started our jobs promptly...me lighting the charcoal, Loks collecting firewood, Mallesh and Liyan raising tents.

While I was busy blowing the charcoal, I saw a truck advancing towards us and two gentlemen alighted. They said the site was not open for camping during this season and we had to return. I begged and pleaded that we had come all the way from Monterrey for camping and the charcoal was all lit. He said we should have called up someone before arranging the trip, now he can't help and he showed the message he had recieved a message from his owner to send everybody back and close the area. We were really upset to hear that...3 hours of journey, 2 bags of charcoal, a tank full of gas, marinated chicken, bottle of rum...everything would have gone waste. Then I tried my usual trick which, surprisingly, worked in our favour. In an abjectively submissive manner, I told him that we were foreginers and I was going back to India in the coming month, so we wanted to have one last camping before I would go back forever. I asked him to explain the same to his owner. He did and the owner, thankfully, obliged!!! His authoritative voice suddenly softened and he was suggesting us to be careful and sleep in tents during night safely. He also asked us not to use the firewood for it was not permitted and asked us to pay for the site in the morning. We agreed for everything, thanked them and got back to our jobs.

The grill was well heated, chicken and hotdogs were roasted, onion-tomato-cucumber salad was made, tents were raised, rum flowed and Maiden and others rocked the whole night. We had dinner, surprisingly everything tasted doubly delcious in that cold desert, probably its psychological. Post dinner, we religiously disobeyed the officers' order not to burn the firewood. We kindled the bonfire with the collected firewood and it lit the surroundings well. Trust me, the warmth of a bonfire in the cold desert night, accompanied by friends, rum and music, is one of the best things to experience in life. Such kinda simple pleasures in life is what I cherish the most...technology, project deliveries, social status, mobile phones, harvards and oxfords, bmws and lamborginis, religion and creed...F*$&'em all. We drank and danced and blabbered till 1 in the night, before we retired to our tents.

The dawn broke with sweet chirpings of desert birds, the air still had a biting chill. The sun shone brightly but still he was helpless in making us warm. While we were having our breakfast of yogurt, fruits and juice, another truck drove to us and two different older gentlemen alighted whom we paid 60 pesos each (which included 40 pesos for camping + 20 pesos area conservation fee). We then left to Pozo Azul, which we had missed during first visit for it was closed.

Pozo Azul, is located just next to Rio Mezquite, around 3 minutes drive on the highway towards Torreon. We had to wait until 10:15AM for it to open, the entrance costs 15 pesos per person and we had to drive (or walk) for about a kilometer to reach Pozo Azul. Pozo Azul, is one of the most wonderful water body I've ever seen in my life. Imagine! In the midst of a desert, a small pool of water, crystal clear, deep azul blue coloured and housing various species of fish! I was enchanted by this waterbody and had a deep desire to dive into it...but it was forbidden to swim. We just clicked and head towards Dunas de Yeso.

Dunas de Yeso is about 10km ahead from Pozo Azul and is known for it's white sand dunes. Entrance costs 50 pesos per vehicle and it's about 15 minutes of slow drive along rough road. It's surprising how the white dunes have covered only a small portion of the much larger desert area of Cuatro Ciénegas. The dunes got higher as we drove, we left our car at parking and head to the biggest of the dunes. The biggest set of dunes were around 300m from the parking and we walked upto it. The feeling of walking on white sand with barefoot was nice. The sand was soft and cold. The biggest dune was a complex structure of many small climbable mounds. It was white as snow against the blue background of the sky. We were enthralled to climb the dune and click photographs. The vision from atop the dune was a deserted one...humongous and humourless mountains all around with very less vegetation. We then walked back, boarded our car and started our long return journey. Though we broke the continous journey for lunch and to see the ruins of Boca de Potrerillos in Nuevo Leon.

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