In the mountains of Oaxaca
Finally the day has come when we can set out on new adventures! Our first goal is rather coincidental. In the morning of the departure day we don't know yet whether we should go to the Pacific or enjoy the pleasant temperatures in the mountains of Oaxaca a little longer. The title already betrays it: We decide spontaneously for the mountains.
After we have left the traffic chaos in Oaxaca city behind us, we turn sometime on the MEX 135 to the north. We have set ourselves the goal for today the Reserva de la biosfera Tehuacán-Cuicatlán. In this biosphere reserve there is the possibility to meet very special wild animals, which of course immediately caught our eye when we stumbled across an article about it.
The road is curvy and meanders through a hilly landscape full of cacti. But the drive is pleasant, as we rarely pass a village and therefore meet almost no topes. We just enjoy being "on the road" again!
After about 3 hours we arrive in San José del Chilar. Here we have set the coordinates on our planning map as a starting point for the hike to the said wild animals, which we would like to see.
We park at the entrance to a nice small yard with "Comedor" (= dining opportunity) and "Cabañas" (= huts for overnight stay). As well as possible we ask for the hike to the Guacamayas verdes and only a short time later the responsible guide Señor Isidro López actually greets us. He explains us some things about the rare endemic Guacamayas, of which we understand only half, but at least we know after the conversation that we can start tomorrow at 14.00 o'clock for the hike.
We are allowed to spend the night in the yard with our car. When we start to set up, i.e. fold up the roof and take out the table and chairs, we are surrounded by the whole Mexican family within a very short time. We find out that Keren and Saúl are brand new owners of the property (since 3 days) and apparently see Overlander like us for the first time in their lives. Everybody is totally excited, want to see every detail of Baloo and are curious where we come from and who we are. We are perforated with questions, immortalized on photos and Facebook and are greeted with beer, tequila and quesadillas. Unfortunately we still can't express ourselves in Spanish as well as we would like and besides the overwhelming hospitality we go to bed this evening with a feeling of displeasure about the given situation.
On Iguana hunt
Saúl and his friend Isaac insist that we accompany them before the upcoming hike for fishing and so it happened that we now know not only half the inhabitants of San José del Chilar, but also the local river. With brooding heat (approx. 40°C) we stroll along the shore and can cool down only moderately in the shallow water. Saúl goes into the water and throws out his net, while Isaac explains us the local flora and fauna. Suddenly he points with his finger at the lush green crown of a mighty tree and repeats the words "Mira ... una iguana! I look very closely in the direction of his index finger, but with the best will in the world I can't spot an iguana anywhere. Suddenly he takes out a slingshot (correctly read!) and shoots unerringly at his spotted object, then disappears between the bushes under the tree. I can't believe my eyes when he comes back a few seconds later with an iguana about the size of his palm. Days later it will still be a mystery to me how he could spot the green lizard in the green tree (it had exactly the same shade). Without asking, I get the lizard pressed into my hand and at that moment I am glad that reptiles only belong to the species "moderate". The stone was probably a little big for the poor animal and so it only twitches a few more times in my hands until eternal peace returns. After all, the lizard is then buried in the sand with dignity.
It is 14.00 o'clock, the backpacks are packed, sun cream is smeared, the drinking bottles are filled and we wait in the glistening afternoon sun that we can finally start hiking. The start is very tough, it's steep uphill. For about an hour we walk along a wide path lined with cacti. Although we walk very slowly, I am already totally exhausted in the half of the way and the heat gives me a hard time. Mathias is not much better.
Luckily the road levelens out and we come to a section with many trees that provide some shade. So we manage the 6km to our destination quite well and arrive after two hours at the "Mirador", a wooden shack with a narrow opening to look through.
We are too early and have to wait another hour until sunset. Then the spectacle should start. There is dead silence. We look tired sitting on the ground through the opening of the Mirador to the rock wall on the other side of the canyon to which we have hiked up and put up the tripod and try out some camera angles. Also Isidro and his dog seem to be exhausted. Both take a nap.
Shortly before 18.00 o'clock suddenly a distant cawing breaks through the silence and Isidro is startled...
...and come to us. He tells us the direction in which we should look ... and then we see it. The first Guacamayas verdes are approaching!
Guacamayas verdes (Ara militaris mexicanus) or soldier macaws are an endangered endemic parrot species that survived here in the mountains of Oaxaca. The population consists of about 60 pairs that live in the rock walls of the "Cañon del Sabino". Due to their long tail, the animals can reach a length of 80cm and are strikingly colorful, with the green color dominating. There are other places in Latin America where other subspecies of this species live. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 individuals worldwide. Here in Oaxaca the population has not diminished in recent years, but it has not increased.
Within the next hour it gets louder and louder and we see how single pairs are approached again and again. If we are lucky, they take a round in the canyon so that we can see all the colours of their feathers before they settle in the trees above the canyon and finally disappear into the niches of the rock face. Already after dark we start our way back and walk the whole 6km in complete darkness. We are glad that Isidro thought of headlamps and that his dog accompanies us, because in this area there are pumas and wild pigs.
After another two hours we arrive at the car tired to death, but very satisfied. To have seen these rare birds in the wild was incredibly exciting, extraordinary and somehow magical. These are moments that we always like to remember and that we will never forget. Moments that make us happy and about which we are incredibly grateful to be able to experience them.