The Gymnosperm Database


Our route on Day 12.


Animation of the eruption of Volcan Fuego.


The eruption seen from a distance.


Coconut palm plantation near Manzanillo.


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Conifer-Hunting in Mexico

Day 12: Tuesday, February 15

We were up bright and early, well before dawn, and on the road well before dawn, headed for Colima town and the beach beyond. It was perfectly clear and the mountains (Colima and Fuego) were very impressive off to the right, I could see that the sun would be coming up in a few minutes, and we had a really nice view with a pine savannah in the foreground. So I pulled off the road, walked out into a cornfield, set up my tripod, waited for the sun to come up, and took a few pictures of Volcan Fuego, which has a very classic Fujiama-type shape, covered with fresh tephra. Then it started to erupt. A little plume of smoke appeared and then the plume got bigger and bigger and bigger until it was bigger than the whole mountain. After 15 or 20 minutes the eruption ended, the ash cloud started to slowly disperse, and you could see the ash falling out downwind. It was all beautifully lit by the rising sun, so I got some fine pictures.

We followed the quite expensive toll road—I think it was running about 2 pesos per kilometer—all the way out the coast to Manzanillo, Barra Navidad, and beyond, to a little town called Melaque and just outside it, an even smaller not-quite-a-town called Cuastecomate. We arrived shortly before noon, rented Bonnie some snorkel gear, and went out and snorkeled the rocky point near the hotel. It's a fun snorkel, the water is warm enough to not need a suit, and we saw lots of brightly colored fish and some rays and some fish behavior. There's only the one coral that you see at the southern tip of Baja and the fish diversity is also about the same, maybe even a little less, for instance I haven't seen any Moorish Idols. The water isn't the clearest because there's upwelling offshore and a fair bit of phytoplankton in the water, so visibility is mostly 15-20 feet, but that's enough to get around in. After our swim we had lunch at a little restaurant on the beach by our hotel that served poor food for high prices. Then we went in to Melaque and poked around the town a bit, and had a drink, a pretty good drink, at a little restaurant right on the beach. The town is filled with North Americans, a lot of them snowbirds that come down and stay for months in rented places. The hotel that we're staying in, oddly enough, is practically deserted. Obviously in the summer it's a premier luxury hotel. It has a big swimming pool with a bar, with bar stools in the pool, and a big bandstand, and it feels kind of queer that it's so deserted. I think it must be a place where Mexicans come to spend their summer vacations, and in the off season, they really don't make any effort to cater to gringos. Certainly it's a lot less of a tourist scene than Melaque, two kilometers away over the hill. The waves are always crashing in, making nice wavy sounds as they roll into this gorgeous beach posed between two rocky headlands. It's a very pleasant spot. This evening, Bob and I went back into town and had a couple more drinks and a pretty good dinner. The clientele was all tourists but the food was good and the drinks were generally good. We also had a couple of coco locos today, that is a coconut with the top whacked off and some of the milk decanted and liquor added, like we had at Chalma, but these were pathetic drinks compared to what we got at Chalma. Our bartender in Chalma was an artist who took pride in his work and this tourist stuff fails in comparison. Anyway, that's the news, its getting pretty late, so I'll sign off.

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Last Modified 2017-12-29