Colima and Comala
View from museum
El Chanal archaeological dig
La Compana archaeological dig
La Compana tomb
Museo Universitario Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo
Hidalgo botanical garden
Volcan de Fuego
Volcan de Fuego
Laguna La Maria
Laguna La Maria
Steve and I had decided that this year we would try to do more inland travel in order see more of this country so we planned a quick trip to Colima.
Colima is located about 28 miles inland from the coast. Colima is a small, non-touristy city. North of the city are two large volcanoes; the active, constantly steaming Volcán de Fuego de Colima, which has had nine major eruptions in the past four centuries and the extinct, snowcapped Volcán Nevado de Colima. An even bigger problem is earthquakes. The city has had a series of them over the centuries, the most recent major one happened in 1941. Colima's higher altitude means cooler temperatures and lower humidity--sounded good to us.
Ron and Anita on Liberty Call II and Gary and Judee from Reverie also wanted to make this trip so we purchased our bus tickets for the ETN bus in Barra. At 6:30 a.m. on January 16, we took a panga water taxi in to Barra and then left on the 7:20 bus to Colima. The bus was a first-class passenger bus with large, comfortable seats and TV sets to watch movies, and the one-way fare for both of us was only $14.
The drive took us through Manzanillo where we turned east. After just over two hours, we arrived at the central bus terminal in Colima where we then grabbed two taxis and headed to the Plaza to find a hotel. We were pleasantly surprised to find the taxi fares extremely low when compared to the coast.
We used The guidebook for Mexico by Lonely Planet and found the lovely Hotel América just a few blocks from the Plaza. We checked into our rooms and then left to explore the Plaza area. Colima has a lovely Plaza with lush vegetation and a large fountain in the middle. The cathedral was built in 1527 and is, as usual, large, beautiful, and impressive.
Next to the cathedral is the Museo Regional de Historia de Colima. We were again impressed by the museum and the wonderful ceramic vessels and figurines mostly of people and Tepezcuintle dogs. These dogs are portrayed as rotund figures of hairless dogs. In some ancient Mexican cultures, dogs were buried with their owners because it was believed that they were able to carry the dead to paradise. Dogs were also a part of the indigenous diet. The displays also included masks, textiles, costumes, basketry, and shellwork from the Colima coast and shows the 19th- and 20th-century history of the state.
Just a few blocks away was another lovely park with lush vegetation and another fountain. We found several of these parks within walking distance of the Plaza. They were always full of people as well as vendors selling clothing, coffee, candy, etc.
We returned to the hotel in the afternoon and asked about a van to take us on a tour the next day. The young lady at the desk arranged for us to meet with Alejandro, who told us that he recently purchased a van and was just starting a business. He spoke excellent English so we agreed to a tour. We all then went to the pool to cool off and relax. Later that evening we went out to dinner and ended up quite a ways off the Plaza at a restaurant next to another church. We had a nice dinner and then enjoyed a long walk back to the hotel.
The next morning Alejandro picked us up at 10 o'clock, and we decided to first visit two archaeological sites dating from as early as 1500 BC. Both sites are still being excavated. We drove to El Chanal first. We found low pyramid-like structures made of rock. Some were low while the one in the center was much higher. This was probably the temple used for sacrifices. There was also a ball court. We walked around the grounds reading the explanations about the buildings and their uses. It was quite interesting.
Next we drove to La Campana where several pyramid-like structures have been excavated and restored. There was also a tomb that where you could climb down steps look through a grate to see the site complete with bones, pottery, etc. This site was much larger than El Chanal and very impressive.
Our next stop was in Nogueras to visit the Museo Universitario Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. Alejandro Hidalgo was an artist and furniture designer. At one time he also studied architecture. When Hidalgo died in 2000, his hacienda was turned into a museum, and the display of his art work and furniture design was wonderful. Many of his works expressing Mexican traditions were used on UNICEF post cards in the 60s. Also included in the tour was the botanical gardens behind the hacienda.
By now we were all hungry, so we stopped in nearby Comala for lunch, and then we headed for the volcano. Volcán Nevado can be hiked; however, access to Volcán de Fuego is usually barred for safety reasons. So Alejandro drove us to his grandparents home up in the mountains. From their back porch we had a beautiful view of Volcán de Fuego. The volcano had been venting for most of the morning, and you can see the plume in the picture at the left. Alejandro said that about 30 years ago the whole volcano was green; but now, because of lava flows over the years, only the bottom quarter is still green. Also, along our drive up to the volcano, we could see large lava boulders, which obviously had been blown out of the volcano.
Our last stop was at Laguna La María, which is a lovely lake that offers picnic and camping. There are also rustic cabins for rent, and you can fish in the lake. Large, beautiful trees grew on the edge of the water, and we were amazed by the size of the trunks of these trees.
We stopped by the bus station to buy our tickets for our return to Barra the next day and then headed back to the hotel. Alejandro dropped us off, and we thanked him for a wonderful day and a great tour. We highly recommend him, and cruisers who would like to hire Alejandro can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his cell phone at 044-312-109-8433.
The next day we decided to enjoy one more walk to the Plaza and have lunch. Gary and Judee were leaving on the 1 p.m. bus, but Ron and Anita were going with us on the 3 p.m. bus so we headed to another park. This park was large and had some bird and animal exhibits somewhat like a zoo but much smaller. We then returned to the hotel, got our bags, and took a taxi to the bus station. We arrived back in Barra around 5:30 in the afternoon. We had a wonderful trip, but it was good to get back to our boat.