Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

Las Pilas: the picturesque pools of Ahualulco, but beware the chiggers!

Ahualulco is a small town located 55 kilometers west of Guadalajara. Never heard of it, you say?

pg7aWell, in 1810 it was the home of Jose Maria Mercado, a priest and co-conspirator with Miguel Hidalgo in instigating Mexico’s revolution against Spanish rule. Without the help of Mercado, Hidalgo would never have acquired all those big cannons with which he somehow ended up losing the Battle of Calderon Bridge. How those two padres managed to touch off a successful war of independence never ceases to amaze me.

Ahualulco … still doesn’t ring a bell? Well, just think of megaspherulites. Yes, Ahualulco is the home of the world famous Piedras Bola, the giant stone balls whose exact origin still has geologists scratching their heads.

All of this, however, is beside the point, because today I’m writing about Las Pilas (The Pools), which lie five kilometers northwest of Ahualulco.

For some time, my friend Chris Lloyd has led canyoneering trips down this series of waterfalls, but I learned from local birder Julio Alvarez that Las Pilas is also popular among the townspeople of Ahualulco.

“Don’t tell me they’re into abseiling?” I asked Julio. “No,” he replied, “there’s an easy path that will take anyone to a set of natural pools further down from the big waterfalls and here people love to bathe and in some cases they can even swim a bit.”

I heard about all this months ago during the dry season and decided to wait until August to go and have a look, even though Julio warned me that I might not see much. “This year very little water is coming down the river. I’m not quite sure why that is,” he tried to explain.

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