Many years ago I stumbled upon a hidden pool fed by a cold spring, the source of a bubbling stream of clear, clean water, all shaded by the most beautiful trees imaginable: enormous, stately, ancient Montezuma cypresses (sabinos in Spanish), but still popularly known by their name in Nahuatl, ahuehuetes (old men of the water).
And well do they deserve their title of Mexico’s National Tree.
Where was this halcyon haven found? Not in the middle of the impenetrable Lacondon jungle in southern Mexico, but just outside the pueblito of La Cañada, located only eight kilometers north of Ajijic as the melodic jilguero flies.
In those days, this enchanted pool was reachable from the airport road, but only via bumpy brechas so rough you needed a big truck or a 4x4 to negotiate them. To complicate matters, this magic spot was on private property and getting permission to visit was not easy.
Fast forward nine years. My friend Josh is looking for an interesting place to take his kids – and he has four-wheel drive. “Let’s go to La Cañada,” I suggested.
Upon investigation, I discovered that the entire extent of the Sabinos River, from the enchanted pool to the town of La Cañada, has been incorporated into Campamento Equestre La Cañada, a center dedicated to acquainting both children and adults with the very natural beauty of the area that had captivated me years ago.
“Can we come and see what you are up to?” I asked María Elena García Rulfo, the center’s director and a descendant of famed Mexican writer Juan Rulfo. “Yes, come and see!” she enthused.
Happy surprise number one: The previously bad road from the airport highway is now paved with the smoothest cobblestone I have ever driven on. Surprise number two: A pleasant 800-meter walk along the lovely Sabinos River will take you straight to the Enchanted Pool – no truck needed.
Under a tall shady tree, Maye, as everyone calls García Rulfo, told us all about the Campamento.