Leaving our campsite at 4000m by Volcano Nevado, we begin the long descent into Colima some 90kms (57 miles away) and 3500m below us! The descent down the dirt road is massively easier going down rather than up. With a certain relief we reclaim our sack of goodies we hid on the ascent to save weight. Several items are irreplaceable, like spares for the bike and some are just valuable like my laptop and it's content, but given the volume of traffic on this road; 3 cars a day, we thought it worth the risk.
It is only when I am crawling through dusty bushes looking for the sack that I notice an old set of tyre tracks, which flatten parallel lines in the vegetation, before disappearing off the edge and down, down into oblivion.....
These curves are not to be taken lightly....
The first 60kms are all gently downhill and we scream along at a good lick. Easy riding!
On reaching Queseria, that all changes. Set deep in a valley basin, the town exists to make paper, it's huge industrial plant belching a lung hugging filth into the sky. The surrounding hills help to contain the pollution and once we slow to climb out of the valley, there's no escaping the cloying fog. The road zig zags up the hillside and so do we....
Vulcan Nevado has a twin; the 3820 metre Vulcan Fuego (Volcano of fire!!) and this one is currently active. In the nearby cities of Guzman and Colima, the central plazas have a traffic light warning system displaying the current status -
Green :- we're going to live!
Amber :- things are looking iffy - make a will.
Red :- Things are going to get a little warmer round here - RUN!
These are only rough translations - the signs were in Spanish, but I think I got the gist. The lights are currently on amber! The sky is a little hazy as we pass by, but you can still just make out the warning signs above the cone....
We ride atop a ridge along a broad valley, and wish we had taken the toll road below. You can make it out running along the nice flat contour diagonally into the distance across the valley floor. The newer toll roads strive to keep gradients to a minimum by following low points in the land and by bridging the chasms that the free road plunges down.
The day time temperatures are really starting to soar now we have left the mountains behind, hitting high 80's and low 90's. Roadside fires are becomming a common sight....
It's been a great ride into Colima, with a total drop for the day of around 3500 metres - that's well over 2 miles in height! In Mexico, it's never that simple though and we also managed over 1000 metres of climbing during the day.
After the tackling the volcano, we plan on a couple of days recuperation to ease weary legs and bodies, sleeping late and drinking coffee round the lush semi-tropical central plaza....
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