Visitors to the pueblo mágico of Tapalpa inevitably wander outside the town to see the area’s famed Piedrotas or Great Rocks.
Few people know that a few kilometers beyond those rocks, hidden deep inside a huge forest, stand far bigger monoliths which make the Piedrotas look like peanuts. The name of that big forest is Mazati, taken from the Nahuatl word for deer: mazatl.
A few years ago, I was invited to camp overnight at Mazati by one of the staffers. All I knew about the place at the time was that those woods had suffered long ago from extensive logging but had been purchased by conservationists who were bent on restoring the forest to something like its former glory.
I had also been told to prepare for a cold night, even though it was the first week of May, traditionally the hottest month of the year in these parts.
My friend Mario and I drove to Tapalpa from Guadalajara and headed northeast until we came to a big sign announcing Rancho el Mazati. From here we were guided to a tejabán, an open-sided shelter over two rustic picnic tables. As the sun set, the woods glowed red, while the new moon rose overhead, so bright that we put away our flashlights.