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A field trip to El Frijol Colorado

Sunday, September 11, 2005 | 1 comment

I had for quite some time plans to visit El Frijol Colorado (Veracruz, close to the border of Puebla), especially since our recent visit to El Limon Totalco, during which we discovered that the dark brown stuff as shown by Google Maps is volcanic rock covered by cactuses, agaves, etc. A beautiful landscape home to scorpions, lizards and snakes.

El Frijol Colorado, edge of the town
El Frijol Colorado, edge of the town

From Caxa (central bus station in Xalapa) we took a bus to Perote. It was a very nice day, almost hot, and during the trip from Xalapa to Perote we had an excellent view. We could even see most of the Cofre de Perote (NaucampatÚpetl), a magnificent shield volcano, 4282 m in height. In Perote we first bought new batteries for my Philips ESP60 camera. Somehow this camera works best with Duracell Ultra batteries, meaning we had to see several shops before we found those. We also asked directions. We were sent back to the bus station, but there we heard that there was no bus going to El Frijol and we should take a taxi or hitchhike. We were told not to take a taxi in front of the bus station, since they overcharge, but in a side street nearby. The first taxi asked 80 pesos. So we asked the next in the row, 60 pesos. I joked to Esme that we should also ask the one in front of the row, maybe the driver would charge 40 pesos. But again the price was 60 pesos, so we took that taxi.

The road to El Frijol is so bad that most of the time the taxi had to drive at a very slow pace. At times not driving on the road was the best option since the asphalt road had way too many holes. At last we arrived in El Frijol. The taxi brought us to the edge of the town, by Esme's request. We saw that the land was quite different compared to El Limon Totalco.

Cactuses covering the volcanic rocks
Cactuses covering the volcanic rocks

We climbed a ridge at the edge of the town and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. Cactuses everywhere, rocks, rocks and more rocks, and big yuccas. Walking was very difficult compared to El Limon Totalco because of the huge number of rocks. We had to be very careful, some rocks were not stable, and falling on sharp rocks with cactuses is a bad idea. The rocks themselves are covered with lichen in various colors: gray green, yellow, orange, with here and there some cactuses and other plants.

Cactuses and lichen on volcanic rock
Cactuses and lichen on volcanic rock

We saw many lizards, running away, but not really shy. I started to look under stones, hoping to find some scorpions. But there were so many stones, most impossible to lift. After some time I found the first snake under a stone, similar to the ones we saw in El Limon. We decided to walk more towards the road since it was very difficult to walk, and the great number of hiding places made spotting scorpions probably extremely hard.

Scorpion
Scorpion

Some places were less covered in rock, flat spots with sand, and just a few rocks here and there, and some plants growing. In one of those places I found the first scorpion hiding under a stone. This one looked similar as the ones we saw in El Limon, were we saw two kinds: transparent brown, like the one in the picture above, and more yellow colored ones. My best guess is that both kinds belong to the Vaejovidae family.

Cactus growing on a yucca trunk
Cactus growing on a yucca trunk

We came upon another small flat part, and under a stone I found another scorpion. Smaller this time, and looking almost like made out of glass.

Small scorpion
Small scorpion

I joked to Esme that my nose for scorpions was working again. I took a picture of the habitat, including the part that was hidden under the stone. Kneeling to take pictures is quite dangerous because the cactuses are everywhere, pushing needles in ones back, legs, etc.

Scorpion habitat, (stone removed)
Scorpion habitat, (stone removed)

Somehow the closer we got to the road the easier it became to find scorpions. Especially under rocks on the flat sandy places.

Another scorpion
Another scorpion

It was quite easy to take pictures of the scorpions. Most don't move for several minutes and then make a run. It's even easier to take pictures in their natural habitat compared to at home, when they are in a terrarium, or so is my experience.

Esme in front of a big agave
Esme in front of a big agave

The weather was excellent for walking in such a rough place. The sun was shining, but not too hot, and there was quite some wind. We both had used sun block, because we knew that it's very easy to get sun burn in places like this.

Scorpion (the yellow kind)
Scorpion (the yellow kind)

We finally got down to the road, and looked back. We had been walking for quite some time, but we came out on a point less then 50 meters removed from our starting point. Rough terrain indeed. We kept walking on the quite flat terrain between the slope and the road. We found scorpions here much easier. Maybe because there were less places to hide. I also found two times a very small (less then 10 cm) gray colored snake.

Close up of a scorpion tail
Close up of a scorpion tail

Taking pictures was easier, less risk on sitting on a cactus or two. Still, good walking shoes are recommended when one visits a place like this. It's very easy to end up with several cactuses clinging to one's shoes.

Scorpion, defensive posture
Scorpion, defensive posture

We kept on walking, keeping the slope covered with volcanic rock, cactuses, and yuccas to our left, and more flat terrain, to our right. Next, when I lifted a stone in a place with more plants and some grass, I found a small tarantula, probably a juvenile.

Tarantula
Tarantula

Because I was afraid I might crush it when I put the stone back I did the same as with the scorpions and snakes I found, I pushed it carefully with a stick to a safe place.

Tarantula on grass
Tarantula on grass

It walked on the grass, and when I moved my hand close it climbed up my hand. I handled a much bigger tarantula about a week ago, for the first time, so this one was easy.

Tarantula on the base of my thumb
Tarantula on the base of my thumb

I let the tarantula go, and replaced the stone. A bit later, Esme noticed several big holes in the ground. Maybe those have been made by tarantulas.

Scorpion, trying to hide in a small hole
Scorpion, trying to hide in a small hole

We walked a bit more and then decided to go back. It was already late in the afternoon. We decided to walk on the dirt road back to the village.

Agave
Agave

Esme found a piece of vulcanic glass (obsidian) and decided to take it home. She found another piece, and started to look for them. I kept looking for scorpions.

Scorpion
Scorpion

We saw many lizards running away while we walked back. I tried to capture one when it was running up a sand slope, but failed.

Scorpion, defensive posture
Scorpion, defensive posture
The mast (stem) of an agave
The mast (stem) of an agave

Later I saw another lizard. I tried to take a picture of it, but it prefered to run away, also up the sand slope. This time I managed to capture it, and put it on Esme's hand.

Lizard on Esme's hand
Lizard on Esme's hand

I was able to make several pictures before the lizard decided that it had enough, and jumped down.

Close up of the lizard on Esme's hand
Close up of the lizard on Esme's hand
Cactuses growing near the road
Cactuses growing near the road
Agaves growing near the road
Agaves growing near the road

When we arrived back at El Frijol we decided to walk in the direction of Perote until a taxi would show up. I estimated the walk back to Perote at over 2 hours. We walked and walked, fields to to the left and the right, Cofre de Perote in front of us. After over one hour and a half of walking we a car asked if we needed a lift. We got in and arrived at Perote after 10 minutes or so. We had to wait for almost one hour for the bus back to Xalapa.

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