Picture this; freezing cold, pitch black, no food or money, alone in the middle of nowhere. Sound like your ideal trip to the mountains? No, me either! However, these were some of the things I faced on my latest road trip through the mountain towns of Hidalgo, Mexico.
The more travelling you do the more likely it is that you will come across problems and hard times. It’s how you choose to deal with these problems, and the outlook you have, that decides whether they will ruin your entire trip, or just become another ‘funny’ story to tell when you get back home.
My nemesis on this particular trip was a storm that hit central Mexico, producing winds up to 80 kmph, electric storms and heavy rain. The areas that were most affected by the storm were all on my list of places to visit, and so as soon as the weather front moved in I knew we were in for an interesting ride!
5:00am. This is where the madness began. My boyfriend and I woke up in a hotel, in the small town of Real Del Monte, to the sound of roof tiles and plant pots smashing, people shouting and the wind rattling the doors and windows. The usual reaction in this kind of situation is to reach over and turn on a light… no electricity. We quickly dressed in the dark (sporting odd socks and major bed head) and went down to the reception, where we were informed electricity was out in the whole town and they didn’t expect it back on any time soon.
Since we’d already explored Real Del Monte the day before, we decided to leave for the next town on our list. After a 30 minute ride, down a winding road full of fallen trees, we arrived in the extremely remote town of El Chico. Our planned destination was a group of cabañas nestled on a sun drenched hill, surrounded by beautiful forest and all only a 20 minute walk to the town. However, when we arrived it was a remote, barren piece of land, covered in debris and at least an hour walk into town. As you can guess we decided to cut our losses and stay in a hotel near the centre of El Chico that the taxi driver recommended.
As we walked into the hotel, the lights were all on and the rain had stopped, things were looking up! In high spirits we left our bags and took the steep walk into the town centre, only to find that we were in a ghost town… all we could see in every direction were locked doors and CLOSED signs. So after a long day of hiking and exploring this lovely little place in the pouring rain, our feast was bags of crisps and cookies from a little vendor we found on our way back to the hotel.
This was the day we were going to the place I was most looking forward to visiting, Huasca! We had so much planned for this place that we decided to book our cabin there for two nights in advance. With the anticipation of horse riding, zip lining and hot air ballooning circling through my mind I couldn’t wait to get started. We dropped our backpacks off at our little cabin, and were told by the elderly caretaker that we were the only people staying in the area, so it was just him and us. On the drive in we saw fallen trees over the main electrical wires, and so we weren’t surprised to find that there was no electricity in the cabin, we simply figured he would have it fixed by the end of the day.
In the town of Huasca the story was very similar to that of El Chico, with the exception of a couple local vendors and restaurants. With the last of our remaining cash we bought a bottle of wine, some sweet bread and juice for the morning, and grabbed a taxi for the 20 minute drive back to our cabin. By this time it was dark, the kind of dark where you can’t even see you hand in front of your face, pitch black.
We fumbled into the cabin, to find the electricity was still out. Using our phones as torch we lit the log fire, which provided a small amount of light and heat. To add to our crazy day we then received a call telling us that, due to the high winds, our balloon trip for the morning was cancelled, and this lovely call used up the last of our phones battery.
Even as I think of this scene I can’t help but laugh… Sat there, cuddled up to the fire as our only source of light, eating cold pasties from the day before, with a lovely unopened bottle of wine (as we had no bottle opener), chatting about the hilarity of the whole scenario. After around 30 minutes the fire began to die, and so we crawled into bed and were fast asleep by 9:00pm.
My Birthday! We woke up at the crack of dawn (due to the extremely early night) to find all the lights on in the cabin! My birthday present from the mountains! Due to our prior experiences on this trip, we decided to call the places we planned to visit that day to see if they were open… the answer was no. We must have called every number, in every guide-book we could find, only to hear the same thing “due to the current weather conditions we are closed until further notice”. Can’t a girl find one place to throw herself off the side of a mountain on her birthday? Zip lining, I’m talking about zip lining!
Eventually we called a bio park named Aguacatitla that had everything I ever dreamed of available, and most importantly it was open (you can see more of my birthday adventures here)! The next challenge was getting there and paying for things with no money. We headed off on the two hour walk into Huasca in search of the ATM machine, we figured that now the electricity was on everything will be working as normal… we were wrong! I was mocked by a flashing OUT OF SERVICE sign on the ATM machine’s screen.
Thus began the wild goose chase around the town, being pointed from vendor to vendor, with each one saying “oh they will swipe your card for cash back”. After visiting two stores, a hotel and a petrol station we gave up and decided to take a $25 taxi cab to the nearest bank, which was in the next town. By 1:00pm we were at Aguacatitla bio park, cash in hand and ready to be filled with adrenaline and from this point on our trip was smooth sailing!
We visited three more towns and even got to do our hot air balloon ride the following day, which you can read all about here. We could have given up, been in the worst mood the whole trip or simply gone back home, but we didn’t. We continued on and kept a smile on our faces the entire time, laughing and the ridiculousness of our situation at times, and just making the most out of where we were.
That’s the sign of a traveler, you take your problems and face them head on, because at the end of the day, they are all new experiences that will turn into stories you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Stay Salty x