Puente de Dios

As is tradition, New Year’s Day was a relaxed affair while different people nursed different degrees of their respective hangovers. The weather had not broken up yet, and a wet grey day hung over the camp. It very much reminded me of an English summer day in August. A year of sun has left me incredibly intolerant to bad weather. Sun, a commodity that used to enjoyed as a novelty is now a day to day occurrence. Rain is practically unthinkable. I phoned my parents and complained that I was wearing my slippers and hoodie as I was cold in the 20 degree drizzle. Needless to say, the sympathy was limited.

Hanno and Kikki had more pressing issues on their mind. Their visa was due to expire in a few days and they were undecided what to do. In the end, the decided to drive the 800km to the US border in order to renew it. They headed off the next to start their killer drive, leaving us to decide what we were doing. We decided that the next day we would go to Puente de Dios, only a short distance away as it had been recommended to us.

The plan was going well until the sun refused to come out, we kept holding out knowing that the sun shining down into the water was one of the things that made this place so beautiful. As it reached midday we gave up on the plan, not only was it Sunday, the worse day to do anything in Mexico but the weather was a bit rubbish. We were all happy to spend another day at the campsite. Lee wanted to fly the drone in the sun and I wanted some pictures that did it justice, so we hoped the weather would break before we left.

The following day started off dull and cloudy, but before too long the sun appeared and broke through the clouds. I walked around taking some more pictures before we packed up the van and left.

Photo by Kikki

It wasn’t a long drive, and within half an hour we were parked up in the car park. The car parking attendant was incredibly excited to see us, one foreign camper was a lot, but three? After paying 50 pesos to park, we walked up through lines of stalls selling water shoes and tacos, picking up some mandatory life jackets on the way. The entrance is a little walk away, after passing all of the stalls, you need to cross over a railway track and pay the entrance fee. From here, it’s a steep descent down a large number of steps to the pools.

Puente means bridge in Spanish, and but no bridge is really apparent. The first thing you see is the main pool, you can either throw yourself in from a small ledge about 10 metres above the water, or walk around and climb in.

We opted for walking around to the lower ledge. Clem was the first to test it out.

The water, despite its blue appearance, is not that cold. Again a thermal spring feeds this place. Now the bridge part becomes a little clearer. From one end of the pool is a large waterfall, this flows across the pool and into a little entrance in the rock. Ropes crisscross the pool to help you navigate, at points the current is way too strong to swim against. Following the current takes you into an underwater cave, and then out into another pool. We didn’t realise it before, but the river flows right under the path we were on. You swim through in the near pitch black, the main illumination coming from light shining through the water from the other end.

The other side opens out more, the river continuing down the valley. Lee tried the rapids out which just looked rather painful.

We made our way back into the main pool. From here there are various points you can climb out. One side has a pretty small waterfall you can stand under. Not for too long though, it’s actually warmer in the water than out of it unless you’re in the sun.

We watched as someone on the high platform couldn’t decide whether to jump or not. The pool soon realised too, and eventually she jumped off the platform to the cheers of the entire pool. I was glad we didn’t come on Sunday, Monday was busy enough. The pool was fairly full of people bobbing around in generally oversized lifejackets. They were incredibly annoying to swim in with a tendency to get stuck up around your ears.

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Earlier, I had noticed people on the waterfall and wanted to have a look. Lee struggled in the current, nearly losing his shoes as we tried to haul ourselves around the rock edge against the current of the waterfall. I made it too a small cave at the back, hidden from everyone else and not the easiest to get too, it had been taken over by two teenagers making the most of a ‘private moment’. Feeling just a tad weird stuck in a cave with the two of them groping each other in the corner, I left to retrieve Lee. After giving him some help, he made it to the cave. He then managed to climb up the side to gain access to the waterfall. I tried and fell in the water, splashing the groping couple. With the help of the Lee and the boy, I managed to get up the edge. I was too short to reach the nearest handhold. It was probably in his interest to help me, they could then have their private spot back. The top of the waterfall was worth the effort.

From here, you can stand in the sun, looking out at the main pool. Behind you another waterfall roars past. We appreciated the view and spot to ourselves.

The easiest way out of here, is not the way you came in. It is far easier to jump off the waterfall, letting the current wash you back into the main pool. This requires a bit of a run up though, so you get enough clearance to miss the rocks and any unseen obstacles at the bottom of the falls.

Back in the main pool, we decided we had seen everything. We got out and found Jaro by the towels. Walking back up the long steps we had earnt our lunch. We found Clem and Emilie in a small restaurant eating lunch. Jaro joined them, while we went to scout out other food options. We ended up in a buffet style place. A nearby kid translated for us as we clearly looked lost. We then grabbed some plates and picked from a large variety of different pots. When you’ve got what you want you had it across and they heat it up. On the other side a lady makes fresh tacos. With a plate full of hot fresh tacos and other one full of fillings we sat in the garden at the back, surrounded by cats. A perfect lunch.

Ridiculously full, as she kept bringing tacos over, we waddled back to find the others. We decided we wanted to head to the next spot, Clem and Emilie wanted to go back down with Lu as they had left earlier than us. Jaro looked like he just wanted to sleep after a late night the night before. We decided to catch up with them later, heading off into town with Jaro to get some groceries before going to Tamul.

We weren’t in the town long before we saw Clem and Emilie, they had left not long after us and so our little convoy left together, climbing the steep road out of Tamasopo. It was at this point it was clear Ruby was not happy. The engine temperature climbed as we gained elevation but the power wasn’t there. We were out in front, slowly crawling up the hill. It seemed we had a misfire, but nowhere to pull over and check it. I wondered if it was our lack of spark plug tube seals coming back to bite us. We just made it to the top with the engine hotter than I would like and struggling. We pulled over and found a loose HT lead, no big deal. Continuing on at a more reasonable speed, Tamul waterfall was less than an hour away.

After the satnav sent us on an interesting an incorrect road, we turned off down the correct street. Here a guy pulled us over and asked us if we wanted to see the cascade. We hadn’t realised it then, but we were already at the start of the entrance. We had heard you needed to pay for access, it all seemed rather complicated. They also said we couldn’t see the cascade today as it was too late, that was fine we just wanted to camp. In the end, we negotiated 300 pesos for a completely unnecessary ‘guide’ to take us down the road on his moped.

We stopped off to pay another 20 peso fee to cross some private land. The guide showed us to a free spot, and told us he would come back in the morning to show us the cascade. We got a bit confused as we thought there was a campsite, Fabia had been telling us about it. It turns out there was, and it was pretty cheap for the night so we decided to go there.

The official camping spot is only a few minutes from the free one. It’s a basic field with cold showers and some toilets. The host explained that you couldn’t leave the water on for the toilets, so if you needed to flush it after you needed to go around the side and turn the water tap on the fill the cistern, then turn it off, go back and flush the toilet. This seemed a little much for the price but we were here now. The guide said he would be back at 9am and we had an early night. While the campsite left a lot to be desired, it was at least very, very quiet.

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