Thursday, August 16, 2018

Volcano Road

No, it isn´t always cloudy, foggy or rainy in Jalapa.  On Monday morning, when we left the city, the sun was shining.

However, clouds were already starting to form.  El Pico de Orizaba, the snow-covered volcano which is Mexico's highest peak, was already shrouded in clouds.  However, unlike our trip from Mexico City to Jalapa a couple days before, on our return we had views of the other volcanos which line the route.  As we left Jalapa and climbed through the Sierra Madre mountains, we had a good view of El Cofre de Perote.

El Cofre de Perote is an extinct volcano and is the eight highest mountain in Mexico.  The word "cofre" means coffer and refers to the box-like outcropping at the peak.

We soon reached the "altiplano", the high, semi-arid plateau of central Mexico.  This plateau is far from flat however, because it is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.  Even many of the smaller mountains here are obviously of volcanic origen.

When we entered the state of Tlaxcala the mountain named La Malinche came into view.

La Malinche is a inactive volcano which last erupted about 3100 years ago.  With an elevation of 14,500 feet, it is the sixth highest mountain in Mexico.

After passing La Malinche, two of the country's most famous peaks came into sight... Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, often referred to as Popo and Izta.

At just over 18,000 feet in elevation, Popo (to the left) is the second highest peak in Mexico.  For half a century the volcano had been dormant, but starting in 1991 activity has increased with eruptions of gas, ash, steam, rocks and even occasional lava.   Smoke constantly emanates from the crater.  

Izta, "the White Lady" is a dormant volcano.  With an elevation of more than 17,000 feet, it is Mexico's third highest mountain.  According to Aztec mythology Popo and Izta were star-crossed lovers... you might say the Romeo and Juliet of pre-Hispanic Mexico.  The gods turned them into mountains so that they would be side by side for all eternity.  

Just beyond the two volcanos is Mexico City.  Our journey was coming to an end. 

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