Experience: La María and The Fire Volcano

In the middle of November we took a bus from Comala, Colima, Mexico to a semi-remote pueblo called La Becerrera, which is one of the closest communities to the most active volcano in Mexico; the Volcán de Fuego de Colima. Our mission: to record for our episode The Volcanos of Colima.

La Becerrera is located about 12 kilometers (~6.5 miles) from the volcano and is home to fewer than 300 inhabitants. We stayed at La María, a natural park with cabins, a lake, a restaurant, a swimming pool, a small grocery store, a camp site, and lots of chickens and geese.

At La María, you can get a room for two people for 350 pesos a night (~$17 USD). We decided to stay for three. The restaurant at La María was not open during our stay, so our next closest option for food was to walk to La Becerrera (1.5 kilometers away from La María) to eat at the only place open for miles. We walked until we found “La Concina de Doña Esther”. The quaint little restaurant is where we met 68 year old Doña Esther, the owner, cook, and lifelong La Becerrera resident, who makes different homestyle Mexican dishes such as sopes, quesadillas, chilaquiles, and much more.

Doña Esther, during our interview with her for our episode on "Los Volcanes de Colima."

The first morning we were at La María, we woke up before sunrise and began our way up to La Yerbabuena, a community located seven kilometers away from La Becerrera, and only five kilometers (~2.7 miles) away from the top of the volcano. On our way to La Yerbabuena we saw a variety of local fauna, including cows, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and different kinds of birds. There are many signs along the cobblestone road to La Yerbabuena to remind people that hunting is forbidden in the area. People who live there told us they have seen wild animals such as pumas and coyotes roaming around looking for food.

We walked about six kilometers (~3.24 miles) and passed La Yerbabuena, where we took pictures and some footage for our upcoming episode “Los Volcanes de Colima”. We went back to La María to save our pictures and video footage, took a siesta (little rest) and headed to La Becerrera for breakfast. In total, we walked about 16 kilometers (almost 10 miles) that day.

Being in La María can induce cabin fever if you are not used to being secluded without wifi or even a phone signal. We needed to make a few phone calls and download some information for another episode we are working on, so we had to take a bus to Cofradía (located between Comala and La Becerrera) where we drank delicious local coffee at a teeny coffee shop by the road and used our phones to access the internet. After our coffee we were ready for food, so we went back to La Becerrera for dinner.

It was already dark when we started walking to La María and spotted a red light on the sky. The volcano was erupting! We hurried to our room to get the camera and ran back to take pictures of the event. We were incredibly lucky to have been there to witness an eruption. People spend days or even weeks camping at La María in hopes of witnessing the volcano erupt, yet few get to see what we saw. Once we had our pictures we went back to our room, worked a little, and went to bed.

The Volcano of Colima erupting at night.

The next morning we got up early again and started our way up to La Yerbabuena at about 6:30am. We filmed some more for the episode and started our way back to La María. After about 30 minutes of walking back to La María in the hot sun, our feet and legs were exhausted we decided to hitchhike. People in the area are very friendly and we didn’t have to wait for too long until we saw a truck coming. It was a couple in their 50’s driving an old truck going to La Becerrera. They gave us a ride to La Maria, where we proceeded to save our work from the morning and walked to La Becerrera to have breakfast with Doña Ester again.

We had a delicious home-style breakfast with coffee for just $100 pesos (about $2.50 USD each). When we finished breakfast, we set out to find an art museum that we had seen advertised at the entrance to La Becerrera. What we found was a house that had been converted into a museum called “La Casa de los Monos” where Alma Araiza, an independent artist exhibits her paintings and her sculptures. The house, Alma explained, was constructed with the use of volcanic rocks that were collected from the nearby Cordovan river. After touring La Casa de los Monos, we a walked along the river and went back to La María where we took a very well deserved nap. Afternoon siestas go a long way to helping recharge after a long morning of walking in the searing hot Mexican sun. We decided to stay at La María for the rest of the day and finished organizing what we were going to do the next day before leaving.

On our last day at La María we were awoken by children running and playing around our room. It was the weekend so we noticed a lot more people in the area. La María is a very common place for families to have picnics and barbecues, so weekends tend to be much busier. We went for our last meal with Doña Ester, and she agreed to answer some questions for us about what it’s like to live next to a volcano for our episode. We also interviewed Mercedes, the lady who owns the store in La María. She told us about the volcano’s recent activity and how she survived being shot through the stomach by a stray bullet.

Later that day, we packed our bags and started our way to La Becerrera to take the bus back to Comala. We hitchhiked again, this time with a guy driving a bus who gave us a ride to La Becerrera and told us where to catch our next bus. After waiting about 15 minutes for the bus, another guy driving a truck offered us a ride. We jumped on his truck and he took us to Cofradía, back to the coffee shop where we did some more editing and drank some more delicious locally grown and roasted coffee.

May hitchhiking near La Yerbabuena in Colima, Mexico.

It was a breath of fresh air to be secluded for a few days and have time to focus on putting out new content for you all. We enjoyed the nature, got to meet amazing people, and heard some very crazy stories about things that have happened in the area in the past 3 years. In total, we spent around $90 dollars on the room, food, and visit to the museum total. I will be posting the list of this trip’s expenses below.

Right now, we are getting ready for an upcoming episode on the process of a very Mexican drink. We are going to take you to a town called Tequila, in Jalisco, one of the few places in the world where tequila is produced.

 

This trip’s expenses:

  • Room x3 nights ……………... $51 dollars
  • Food and snacks ………….... $38 dollars
  • Museum x2 …………………...... $1 dollar
  • Total …………………………......... $90 dollars

 

When’s the last time you went more than a day with no cellphone or internet service? Would you ever live next to an active volcano? Have you ever hitchhiked before? Leave us a comment and let us know. We love to hear from you!

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This is the Most Active Volcano in Mexico.

May Larios

May Larios García is a Mexican English and Spanish teacher who grew up in a small town in the state of Colima, Mexico. She graduated from the School of Foreign Languages in Colima in 2010. She has been teaching English and Spanish as a Foreign and Second Language since the age of 18. She has worked with students of all ages and hopes to be able to keep helping others learn around the world.

    May enjoys visiting new places, meeting new people, and she can't wait to show you all the awesome places where Spanish is spoken. When she is not working, you can find her in the kitchen creating vegan recipes, sharing laughs with her friends, or at the closest tiangüis or mercado looking for the freshest produce.