A long, long time ago I showed you the mountains/hills that rise between Jocotepec and Guadalajara. What I didn’t realize is that there is another set of mountains/hills between Joco and Guad and that in between there is a big valley.
And it was to that big valley that my friend Phyllis took us a few days ago. She’s been enamored of this valley for quite some time and decided that this was the occasion to share it with us. So we set off on the road to Potrerillos and points beyond. The attraction? Phyllis said she loves it because it reminds her of the Mexico she saw when she first came here about 40 years ago.
We had no real “destination” in mind, except that Phyllis wanted the three of us who were going for the first time to have a picnic at a place she loves. There were no real “activities” planned either. Whatever we stumbled on or saw were pretty much left up to fortune.
We left Joco and headed north on the road that eventually leads to the highway to Guadalajara. But instead of traveling on that road for any distance, we turned off at the first crossroad. I’ve passed the sign for Poterillos and Trojes many times, but never taken it. And I suspect that I’m not alone in this. It’s just one of those roads that we whiz by in our cars and pay no attention to. But attention SHOULD be paid!
Although I must say that for a few minutes, I thought we truly were on the road to nowhere! We saw a few vehicles coming our way, but otherwise it was just us and the dirt and gravel road:
However, within minutes of leaving the highway, we came across this beautiful valley:
A few minutes later we arrived at the pueblo of Potrerillos. Aside from a group of fellows working on one of the schools and some others doing road construction, there wasn’t a lot going on.
There were a few vendor stalls set up in the plaza, but the only one getting any visitors was the one with the trampoline.
Phyllis knew about a man in the village who makes candles for some of the many religious processions that take place in Jocotepec municipality, but she didn’t know where he lived. So we ambled down the street to one of the little stores [abarrotes] in Potrerillos to ask directions.
I’m always amazed at the variety of things that an abarrote contains. They almost all sell snacks and cold drinks and beer, but this one was chock-full of lots of other stuff, too.
And when your store is only the size of a small room, you use all the space available….even the ceiling!
Directions having been received, we set out in our vehicle to find the candlemaker. And we did. Before big festivals, he sets up a variable assembly line of folks to help with the candle making, but now, when it’s quiet, he sells a few of them out of his house, and that’s where we went.
I had seen these candles in processions here in Joco before, but I always thought that the lovely decorations were made of paper. As I discovered, they are primarily made of wax, too, just as the candles are, with a bit of brightly-colored paper thrown in.
I bought one like this. Candle itself is about a foot tall. Cost? Thirty pesos [about $2.28US].
But as much fun as that was, it wasn’t really why we had come to this area. Phyllis wanted to show us a great place to have a picnic. So we ventured over to the next town [Trojes] and then took another one of those roads that seemingly lead to nowhere.
Along the way, we encountered numerous livestock and many bucolic views, like this one. Remind anyone else of a pastoral setting in England or Ireland….or the hill country of Texas? Or a painting?
Now, I’ve never been to either England or Ireland, but I’ve read a lot of books about them, and I have been to the hill country of Texas, and this is kind of what I think the countryside looks like.
After driving along a dirt and gravel road for a bit longer, we arrived at what Phyllis hoped would be the highlight of our day. And it was! Seemingly out of nowhere we encountered huge trees and a babbling brook.
We each grabbed our lunchbags and settled in for a picnic lunch. Here are Pat and Kathi settling down on some big rocks by the stream for comida:
We munched away and then some of us grabbed our cameras to try to capture the beauty that surrounded us.
Soon we were joined by some of the animals that consider this “their” watering place.
Oh, as to the size of these trees? Here’s Kathi next to one. It was probably 20 times her height and probably at least 20 feet around the base.
And here’s a picture that Phyllis took of Kathi, Pat, and I trying to circle the tree with our hands:
It was just a lovely day. The weather was fabulous. We’re in the rainy season now, so highs are normally about 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity can build up a bit as the rains approach, of course, but that’s normally in the late afternoon.
Thanks, Phyllis, for taking us to see one of your favorite places. It has certainly become one of mine now, too!