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Rim of the Canyon

Saturday, October 9, 2010 | 0 comments

Yesterday Esme and I had decided to go to Mesa de Guadalupe, a small town close to Coyolillo. To the north of the town in a barranca (canyon) that has been on my list of things to explore for quite some time ever since I saw this canyon during a hike near Alto Lucero.

From our house in Indeco Animas we took first a taxi to Plaza Crystal. Opposite of the "Plaza" we bought two large bottles of water and some food. This spot is the place to get a "colectivo" taxi to towns like Actopan, Otates, Coyolillo. So we expected to get a taxi to Mesa de Guadalupe without any problems. When we got out of the shop a man asked us were to go. Since he had driven us before -- last time back in 2007 when me and my brother visited Otates -- I asked Esme if she could explain were we wanted to go. He quoted us 150 pesos (about 12 USD), which Esme considered a bit steep. But the man told us he would only take the four of us so I agreed with the price. We had to walk some distance to the taxi since the location is not really a legal taxi stand. And soon we were on our way to Mesa de Guadalupe.

Rim of the canyon near Mesa de Guadalupe. In the distance Blanca Espuma
Rim of the canyon near Mesa de Guadalupe. In the distance Blanca Espuma

Around one o'clock, after about an hour driving on a road with a lot of potholes, we arrived in Mesa de Guadalupe. I wanted to walk to a road leading down into the barranca and follow it down to the river at the bottom. But I misread the black and white print out of Google maps I had made at home. So after following a road next to the soccer field of the town we ended up at the rim of the canyon.

Close-up of a juvenile tarantula.
Close-up of a juvenile tarantula. (large)

And soon enough we were walking in the shadows of trees, which was very welcome since it was a hot day, surrounded by coffee shrubs. We saw various butterflies; most present the Banded Peacock (Anartia f. fatima), but also several Crimson-patched Longwings (Heliconius erato petiverana) and now and then a Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia vazquezae).

There was a sudden drop but the track ended upon a few rough steps of pieces of rock so we could go down and continue our walk. When we ended up on an open area with some stones here and there I rolled one promising stone over and found a juvenile tarantula hiding under it. Next to it was its cast-off exoskeleton (exuvia).

Tarantula exuvia (cast-off exoskeleton), from above.
Tarantula exuvia (cast-off exoskeleton), from above.

I called Alice over to have a look as well, and then she spotted the exoskeleton and exclaimed: "oooohhh it's broken, it's broken." So I explained to her that when tarantulas grow they remove their "skin" like clothes so they can grow bigger.

Habitat of the juvenile tarantula.
Habitat of the juvenile tarantula.

The above photo shows the habitat of this large spider, including the moss covered stone its burrow is located under.

I explored the surroundings a bit more and enjoyed the view from the rim of the canyon a lot. Esme wanted to have a break so we continued our walk to find a spot better suited to rest which we found just a few minutes later.

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