Day 223 - Xilitla, Mexico - 5947 km

Magic in Xilitla

…During the days I worked on this graphic design project, or I tried, I couldn’t focus. I was already 5 days in Mexico City. Natalia told me about a place, Xilitla, a few hours north from Mexico. I was actually planning to leave Mexico City after a few days, but the idea grew to go here with Alejandra, whom I met in Guadalajara. We had become friends. I explained her the plan and she was excited. We connected with a local fashion brand to do a photo shoot, so we had actually something to do.

At 4 in the morning arrives in Xilitla after a long drive over winding hill roads. The Airbnb host was so friendly to receive me early. When everything got loaded off the bus I put the bags on my bicycle and roll down the hill towards my apartment. I try to sleep a few hours. In the afternoon Alejandra arrives. Talkative as she is, she easily connects with everyone around. Using her magical bright blue eyes. With the hotel owners, the people from the restaurant around the corner, taxi drivers, shop owners… It doesn’t take along that the whole town knows there is a model from Guadalajara and a foreign photographer in town. Also because I forgot my camera charger - I left it in Mexico City - so the hotel owner has called a number of people to ask if they have a Panasonic charger. The people in Xilitla are extremely helpful. But without luck, after a few visits to local photographers nobody has a compatiple charger.


The next day we visit Las Pozas, a 15 minute taxi drive out of town. It’s subtropical garden area with surrealistic structures created a few decades ago by the British poet, Edward James. A mystic gem to wander over numerous trails and explore the rich plant life. Nearby there are waterfalls where we cool down from our walk.

Back in Xilitla we have lunch in the centre of town. It’s a sunny and tranquil place. While I work in the cafe Alejandra visits the old church. She got in touch with the priest who offered us a ride to Sótano de las Golondrinas (Cave of the swallows). Together with his friend he picked us up from the apartment. ‘Padre’ looks far from a typical priest. He has large beer belly and wears a sloppy t-shirt and sweatpants. But his heartwarming voice and generosity makes him credible. He drinks while driving and offers us a Corona as well, the radio at max volume, playing passionate ballads from Los Bukis. Padre tells me I look like the singer. On our way we stop at someones house in a little village, where we have to join for a birthday toast. We are sat around the table and serve us pork meat and tequila, with lime and salt. We join the conversation, I have no idea what they are talking about, but it’s a good vibe. It took much longer than we thought and padre has to step on the gas to be on time at the caves. We park the car at sunset and Alejandra and I rush down the trail to the cave, a 500 m deep hole in the ground. It’s the home of hundreds of swallows, which fly out at dawn and return at sunset. The size of the opening, which is about a 50 m diameter, is hard to capture by camera. You have to lean over the edge to sense the depth. The sound of whiplashes, caused by the passing swallows flying down by numbers with dazzling speeds. It’s an incredible phenomenon to experience, leaning over the edge with a rope around your waste to prevent from falling into the gab.*

When it got dark we hike back up to the road where padre is waiting for us with a bottle of tequila and some peanuts. We drive home and sing along with Secreto De Amor by Joan Sebastian.

*The photos from inside the cave are by Brian Masney. We did not go down.