Friday, June 21, 2024

Beat the heat the natural way in Guadalajara’s Primavera Forest

When does the rainy season start in Guadalajara? 

For years, I would confidently reply: June 12th.

Where I got that date, I don’t know, but over nearly 40 years, it has mostly been right, even though the traditional start of the lluvias is June 24th, the Feast of John the Baptist — a water-bringing saint if there ever was one.

This year, my prediction was wrong, but in compensation for my errors, allow me to present two completely natural water holes only half an hour from the city’s Periférico (Ring Road), known to very few.

Agua Dulce

The Primavera Forest, located immediately to the west of Guadalajara, is known for its Río Caliente, a river both hot and salty. The forest, however, has other secrets, and one of them is a delightful river whose waters are both cold and dulce, which here means drinkable, rather than sweet.

The Agua Dulce River first starts out as a pool where you can cool off while trying to walk along several rope bridges stretched over the wonderfully clean water.

Agua Dulce, Jalisco
Crossing the rope bridge over the spot where the Agua Dulce River is born.

The river is born inside the Rancho Ecoturístico Agua Dulce, an extensive campground that is located inside Bosque La Primavera. There are facilities here like toilets and plenty of flat, grassy meadows where you can pitch a tent and even a few zip lines, as well as a tall watchtower from which you can see the beautiful forest all around you. The Tequila Volcano looms on the horizon.

You can visit Agua Dulce for a very nominal fee, and the site is easily accessible via Google Maps. The last 3 kilometers are dirt roads but very well-graded and maintained, so you can easily get there in any sort of vehicle. Driving time is only 30 minutes from the west end of town.

Hugo’s Heavenly Pool

For the more adventurous, I offer the very coldest body of water I have ever encountered in Mexico. No, it’s not atop a 3,000-meter-high mountain — instead it is hidden away at the northern edge of Villa Felicidad, a failed fraccionamiento (subdivision) outside the town of Tala, located only 25 km west of Guadalajara and owned by one Hugo Castellano, who welcomes visitors but endlessly reminds them not to leave any trash or garbage around.

Castellano’s pool is fed by the Río Zarco, another of those unknown rivers born inside the Primavera Forest. The water is perfectly clean and deep enough for swimming. It’s graced by a small waterfall at one end and a small sandy beach at the other.

Double spirals at Presa de la Luz, Jalisco. They are thought to be prayers asking the Mexica god Tlaloc for rain.

To reach Hugo’s Heavenly Pool you will need a vehicle with high clearance. It can be found at M88C+3C, 45343 Tala, Jal on Google Maps. 

Getting there will no doubt be an adventure, but these days of extreme heat are exactly when this very cold pool can be best appreciated. Driving time is 45 minutes from the edge of the city.

If you can’t visit either of these wonderful swimming holes, I suggest you make a more direct contribution to bringing on the rains: just grab a chisel and carve a spiral on the first hard surface you find near your home. 

If I correctly understand the writings of archaeologist Joseph Mountjoy, the spiral petroglyph was the most common “prayer” to the rain god Tlaloc, and you can get some idea of how often las lluvias were late in past centuries by the plethora of spirals still to be seen on rocks all over Mexico. 

I hope it works, but if it doesn’t, head for those cool pools!

The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, since 1985. His most recent book is Outdoors in Western Mexico, Volume Three. More of his writing can be found on his blog.

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