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The hike to the hills South of Chilac

Friday, June 13, 2008 | 0 comments

In the morning when Esme put some sun block on my face I suddenly remembered (too late) that the brand we had bought some time ago, Coppertone (50 FPS), made my eyes tear and caused a bad taste in my mouth (no, I don't eat the stuff). Somehow Coppertone, or at least the 50 FPS bottle we have, releases a gas (or gases) that irritate my eyes and mouth. Alice had the same problem, because she started to rub her eyes, and cry. So we washed her hands and face, and I washed my face as well.

Alice enjoying a kiddie ride.
Alice enjoying a kiddie ride.

So after breakfast we went to Chedraui to buy a different brand of sun block. The first time we stayed in Tehuacán we had bought "Banana boat" sun block in a tube. When Esme went into Chedraui, I asked her to look for that brand. I looked after Alice, and she discovered the kiddie rides in front of a shop to the left of Chedraui. I let her climb into one, and she had a lot of fun playing with the steering wheel. When Esme returned, she put a coin into the ride, and Alice had even more fun.

After the ride had ended, we walked to the nearby bus stop to wait for the bus to San Gabriel Chilac, the starting point of our next hiking trip. We didn't have to wait long, and after a short trip we arrived in Chilac. We got off the bus shortly after it had turned to the right of the main road.

A bird's nest, probably a Barn Swallow's nest, attached to a wall of a house.
A bird's nest, probably a Barn Swallow's nest, attached to a wall of a house.

We follow the main street in southern direction, towards the hills, where we wanted to hike. Because my arms both suffered from sun burn - yesterday we had forgotten to put some sun block on during our hike near Ajalpan - we looked for a shop where I could by a cotton shirt with long sleeves. And Esme, already wearing long sleeves, wanted to look for a rebozo to carry Alice, because our little girl had outgrown her Go Go rider.

The first shop we entered couldn't help us, but had many nice embroidered blouses. After some browsing we decided to buy two blouses for Alice, who was playing in the back of the shop with some children. After Esme had paid for the blouses the friendly lady gave Alice a toy: a small turkey with a bobbling head. She also gave us directions to another shop, more up the main road.

So we walked a block up to the shop, but nor did they sell shirts with long sleeves, nor rebozos that had sufficient length to carry Alice. But they did sell cloth, so I said to Esme, why don't we just buy 3 meters of cotton. And so we did. After we had left the shop, we walked back the way we had come, and continued towards the hills south of San Gabriel Chilac

A Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica ssp.) resting on top of a traffic sign.
A Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica ssp.) resting on top of a traffic sign.

While looking at a house, Esme spotted a bird's nest, attached to a wall, close to a window. When we reached a corner, we saw a couple of Barn Swallows - Hirundo rustica, probably Hirundo rustica erythrogaster - flying; they came so close that we could almost reach out and touch them.

When I looked around I discovered why the birds were flying so close to us: they had a nest attached to the side of an retractable awning, and most likely tried to scare us away with their antics. After some time one bird landed on the top of a traffic sign, and I managed to take a photo of it. After we had looked at the birds a little more we continued our walk.

Nest of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica ssp.).
Nest of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica ssp.).

After some time we were walking on a road with some trees to the sides. Thanks to a nice cool breeze it was a nice place to walk. When we reached a crossing, we went to the right (south), in the direction of the hills we could clearly see in the distance. We crossed a small bridge over a stream that had been fed by the rains of the past days; the water was muddy. Just after the bridge I suddenly noticed movement to my left; a small brown animal running away moving too fast to clearly identify it, so I guess it was a rat.

A muddy stream south of San Gabriel Chilac.
A muddy stream south of San Gabriel Chilac.

The road slowly bend more to the east, and when it was roughly going south-east, we saw to our right a riverbed with large boulders, and a dog walking around, looking towards us. We kept following the road, which slowly turned towards the river. We came upon a ford; to the right the water was at about the same level as the road, some of it flowing over the road itself. And to the left the water dripped down to the much lower river bed. I took a photo looking east by south, of the arroyo.

Zapotitlán river (arroyo) south of San Gabriel Chilac, looking east by south.
Zapotitlán river (arroyo) south of San Gabriel Chilac, looking east by south.

We crossed the ford, which was quite easy because their was little water on the road itself. We kept following the road, which was now going south-east, parallel to the feet of the hills to our right. I started to look for a road or track that would go to the right, in the direction of the hills. Then we passed a soccer field on our left, which looked quite out of place in the dry surroundings, even though it was dry and dead looking as the land around it. Just after the soccer field we came upon a dirt road that went to the right; I had found wat I was looking for, and we started to follow the road.

Landscape south of San Gabriel Chilac, looking south-west.
Landscape south of San Gabriel Chilac, looking south-west. (large)

After a little walking on the dirt road, we came upon a few trees to our left. Around those trees were large, green beetles buzzing. We had seen those beetles earlier on in the town of Chilac, and a few times during our hike earlier on. I was hoping one would land on a low branch so I could take a photo. But the beetles either landed out of sight, or kept flying around, so I took photos of the hills in front of us.

When I had taken two photos of the hills, we decided to follow a dirt track going to the right. You can see the track in the above photo, in the center. I was hoping to find more stones to look under for scorpions at the edges of the fields. In my experience scorpion species belonging to the genus Centruroides often can be found near fields, under piles of stones, and I was hoping to find a few.

Close-up of a scorpion (Vaejovis sp.).
Close-up of a scorpion (Vaejovis sp.).

After some time we took a dirt track to the left, and we were walking towards the hills again. To our right were low bushes growing, and now and then a tree on a low slope of sand. Behind the bushes I guessed there was a small ditch with water. Then I spotted a large stone on the low sand slope; a good place for a scorpion burrow. And my hunch was right because when I rolled the stone over, I saw a scorpion, most likely belonging to the Vaejovis genus.

We continued our way, and after some walking the track made a turn to the left, and so we followed it. But since I wanted to get nearer to the hills; straight on, I looked for another dirt track. To our right was a sandy slope with reeds growing on top and a ditch behind. After some walking I noticed a very small dirt track almost hidden by the vegetation on the slope. When we stepped between the reeds we came up on a makeshift bridge that crossed a ditch with muddy water. We carefully crossed the bridge, which didn't look that stable, and continued our walk following yet another dirt track, still going roughly west, towards the hills.

A juvenile gecko on the soil of its uncovered hiding place.
A juvenile gecko on the soil of its uncovered hiding place.

The dirt track had fields on our left and right, and we passed several people at work who greeted us friendly. Then we came up a low slope with a lot of stones. On top of the slope a lot of vegetation and green trees were growing. Since there was a track parallel to it, we followed the track until we came upon an open gate to our left, and we went through it. To the left and the right of the gate were large stones. First I looked under the stone to the right: nothing. Then I looked under the stone to the left, and found a juvenile gecko.

You can read the second part of this blog entry in The hike to the "cactus garden".

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