January 20, 2022
The tallest volcano in North America is also Mexico’s highest point, and the third-highest mountain on the continent overall after Denali and Logan. Dormant but not extinct, Pico Orizaba last erupted in 1846. Its most violent eruption is thought to have occurred in 6710 BC.
Located 300 miles south of the Tropic of Cancer on the border between Puebla and Veracruz, Orizaba is one of only three volcanoes in Mexico still having glaciers. Its soaring ice gets lit in morning sun, visible to ships approaching in the Gulf of Mexico when the coast is still bathed in shadow.
A much closer view is had from the hilltop adjacent to the small city of Orizaba, one of Mexico’s oldest towns, which for eons has been an important settlement along the route between the central highlands and the coast.
After taking in the morning view and hiking back down, the walk along the river running through town is an utter delight. This is also a great place to go running, especially in the mornings; it rivals or surpasses the best city-river runs anywhere in the world.
Stonework paths line each side of the waterfall-imbued stream, and cut beneath the dramatic archways of the venerable street bridges above. While walking or running here you’ll gaze into the eyes, and breath the breaths, of the many animals that live in the intermittent streamside enclosures, including jaguars, tigers, toucans, hippos, lions, spider monkeys, coyotes, ostriches, and emus.
If it’s after 1:00 or so, it’s a good idea to climb up to the overpassing bridge of Poniente #2, the street that runs through the center of the center of old town. By this time, LuzyLu has switched over from breakfast, and put out her signboard listing the 40-peso set-menu options for the day in her five-table dining room adjacent to her kitchen. Everything she makes is good, but if she’s got green mole stew don’t pass it up! This warm dish is especially great on a cool day when it’s cloudy and drizzling out the door.
The trip to LuzyLu’s little restroom is unforgettable! It’s via a narrow metal balcony that winds around the exterior, about 60 feet above the rushing creek water. I accidentally dropped my pen once and it almost landed in the exotic duck zoo cage far below.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Orizaba, to me, is a reminder as I head into a new year to always trust my gut and go with what feels right. And if things don’t feel right, change them so they do.
When you do that, more often than not, what is for you will not pass you.
Something wasn’t right with the Yucatan. It just wasn’t a place for me and my travel mate to wrap up our nearly-four month voyage in Mexico.
So we got on an overnight bus on New Year’s Eve and headed back to the Mexico we love, the Mexico that is HOME, the Mexico of the central highlands.
And lo and behold we stumble across Orizaba.
And then head on to Taxco…and Valle de Bravo…and Mexico City again. I could go on and on.
Thank you, Mexico!! Everyone, every place, everything. You are AMAZING!!