Six years ago I visited Guadalajara’s Colimilla Canyon, located at the northeast end of the city, tracking down rumors of two huge “monos” or statues lurking among the abandoned works of the old hydrolectric plant built in the area back in 1945.
It turned out that my friend Rodrigo Orozco knew all about those statues and offered to take me there. A winding cobblestone road took us down from the Jardines del Prado neighborhood to a checkpoint manned by armed guards. “Proceed no further,” they told us, “unless you have written permission from the State Water Commission.” This we did not have, but, fortunately, we did have a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend and thanks to all that friendliness they actually let us through the gate, allowing us to continue along “El Camino a La Planta Potabilizadora Colimilla.”
No sooner had we passed the guards than we caught a glimpse of the river below us with a towering canyon wall on the other side. Although the Santiago is horribly polluted at many points, at this particular spot we could discern no bad smell. To tell you the truth, we were astounded at the beauty of the scene. It was dead quiet. White and gray egrets were frolicking in the river which was full of fish – yes, live fish! – and on a branch above the water a kingfisher was preparing to dive. On the canyon wall behind us, a lacy waterfall was trickling. It was hard to believe we were only 13 kilometers from the city’s bustling ring road.