Our detour to the Pacific coast after the Copper Canyon doesn’t last long and then our adventure trip through the colonial highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico continues with our travel companions Caroline and Heather sitting in the back of the camper. It’s a huge contrast to our previous experiences on the Baja. This region is much more populated and there are hundreds of villages and towns instead of secluded beaches.


The Spaniards have done an impressive job here and each town or village has one (or more) beautifully arranged plaza with a small church or cathedral. Often, they have great stonemasonry work on their facades and impress with their sheer size. Life-size statues of European explorers and missionaries show situations in which they bring not only the Catholic belief but almost enlightenment to the indigenous people… We are not convinced of this glossed over version of the story, for this the Spanish reign demanded to many bloody sacrifices and we feel a little ashamed for the dominant behavior of the Europeans… ☹

Nevertheless, thanks to the Spanish dominion, colonial towns like Guanajuato, Durango and San Miguel de Allende have a lot of flair and culture to offer. The latter, San Miguel de Allende, today is the home of many Americans expats who escape the cold winter months in the US and enjoy the large number of cafes, restaurants and boutiques. We too, drift and lose ourselves between historic buildings and the great culinary offer of this colonial town.


Our last leg of the journey with Caroline and Heather takes us even higher into the mountains. We visit the Monarch butterflies in the fir forests at over 3500 meters above sea level. Years ago, we saw this natural spectacle in a National Geographic documentary, and it’s been on our bucket list ever since. After their trip from Canada through the US, the orange butterflies arrive here in the tall fir trees, where they spend the winter. There are but millions of these filigree animals, which settle in huge grapes on the branches. When the spring sun shines on their wings and warms them up, they lift off in their thousands, buzzing through the air. A natural wonder beyond compare that touches us and makes us rest in amazement.

It is a worthy farewell to a great, common road trip with our English friends and we award the two of them with the certificate “overlanding-tested”. ? After a hug and an indefinitely goodbye, they fly for a week to the sea for recreation and then back to London.

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We on the other hand stay a little longer in the mountains and drive to Morelia with its imposing cathedral and on to the volcano Paricutín. A hike takes us there to a church of a different kind at the foot of this relatively young volcano… During just eight years, in 1943, so much lava flowed out of a sudden hole in the ground that a whole village was buried underneath. The remains of its cathedral, which stands in the middle of the cooled lava flow, bear witness to this today. Mystical, almost scary is the atmosphere in the late afternoon when suddenly black clouds rise and a few big raindrops fall from the sky like tears…

After several weeks, we have enough of colonial culture and the cool climate in the mountains of the Sierra Madre for the time being and we long for warmer weather and the sea again. ¡Hasta luego!

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