I have left Bridget at the airport – or rather she has left me at Villahermosa, Tabasco – after a wonderful morning waking to the jungle sounds of millions of birds and insects singing – interspersed with the rumblings of trucks pulling into and out of the Pemex (gas) station we have spent the night at.
I head even closer to the outskirts of Villahermosa and just before Centro, take the cutoff heading south towards Teapa.
For the first time in 3 months since I’ve been in México, it has been misting to a very light sprinkling now for two days almost none-stop since we were entered into the clouds heading north to Palenque.
As I drive the straight, flat road the misting rain increases to a deluge. There are several large lagunas lining the road, outside Villahermosa. Huddled and squeezed between the edges of the water and road, under temporary plastic tarp palapas or simple umbrellas, are large, still bunches of fresh, dead fish hanging off a pole next to a smoking grill or pit with a couple of men cooking over them.
I briefly consider trying to also squeeze between the lake and road to purchase some fresh fish but then I think about pollution and question if the fish are healthy, so I don’t stop.
I continue down the road, 195, which is perfect with few topes or potholes. I am able to go 45 almost the entire way to Teapa. Although mountains are barely visible through the rain and mist in the far distance, the road is entirely surrounded as far as the eye can see – and in my truck, one can see very far – by mega-farms of bananas with the occasional cow pasture in between.
Men walking or on bicycles and/or horseback along the route are bending into the hard but warm rain, peddling rapidly, urging their horses along, or hanging out under the low branches of an occasional clump of trees. Only a few wear raincoats.
I reach Teapa in no time. The first sign just outside Villahermosa tells me it is 50k; the next sign 3 or 4k later tells me it is 23k; and the last sign about 15k later tells me it is 28k. Go figure.
I go to the Grutas (caves) first and find, once again, no tourists are there but me. The man at the gate wants to charge me 80 pesos: 30 for entering the caves, and 50 for a guia (guide). He is willing to allow me to park overnite.
I tell him a guide is not necessary, I will go without one and he tells me it is not permitted. I HAVE to have a guide.
No, I don’t. I don’t want a guide so I leave to retrace my steps and this time follow the other signs for ecoturisco – swimming this time.
Without Bridget navigating, I have to depend on signs. Fortunately for me, the turn-off to swimming and ecoturisco is again well-marked: 28k, which is about 15+ miles so I head up the paved road.
And up it is! I am entering the wonderful mountains and I think I’m very close to the magical Chiapas. Before I travel a mile or so I see a sign for “Baleanaria – 4k” so I take that road.
I drive down a rutted, bumpy, rock and dirt – and now water-logged road as it is still lightly raining – until it ends into a beautiful property delineated by bright green grass, foliage, and trees declaring “bienvenidos” welcome!
I can see a beautiful rushing river at the end of the road that winds through the property around a couple of structures, 4 or 5 palapas, and a children’s playground.
I park outside the gate and enter on foot. I think I will really like parking here tonite!