Last updateFri, 29 Apr 2016 3pm

Revisiting dramatic Santa Rosa Vista “Suspended in space, the river looked miles below me.”

Many years ago we heard a rumor about a huge cave located north of Tesistán, supposedly full of the bones of Mexicans caught on the wrong side of the fence during the Revolución. The cave was called La Cueva del Muerto, located near a rancho called Las Presitas.

One find day, we drove out of Tesistán and through Santa Lucía, heading towards an isolated pueblito called Palo Gordo. After driving some twelves kilometers along a winding brecha (dirt road) in so-so condition, we topped a small rise and suddenly beheld a marvelous spectacle off in the distance: the grandiose Santa Rosa Canyon, carved over milennia by the Santiago River and overshadowed by Tequila Volcano dominating the Horizon. A shimmering lake could be seen deep at the bottom of the gorge, created by the Santa Rosa Dam.

According to a friend, this lookout point is the place to be if you love spectacular sunsets. Fortunately, there are several grassy knolls there where you could spread a blanket while awaiting dusk.

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From this spot, which we called El Mirador de Santa Rosa, we continued on towards Dead Man’s Cave, where, instead of piles of bones, we found only a handful of moths, indisputable proof of what moths like to eat beside clothes. The “huge” cave turned out to have a very high ceiling, but, sad to say, was only ten meters deep and not much to look at. Disappointed, we took a stroll around the area and soon found ourselves standing at the top edge of a sheer cliff overlooking an even more magnificent view of Santa Rosa Canyon.

“I want to do a rappel right off the edge of this cliff,” announced one of our cave-explorer friends, Juan Blake.

“But Juan,” Susy and I replied, “we don’t have nearly enough rope along for you to reach the bottom.”

“So what! I just want to know what it feels like to be hanging in space above this tremendous canyon. Then I’ll prusik back up.”

So, we rigged our ropes and Juan went over the edge, dangling like a piñata tied to a cloud.

How did it feel?

“It was very different from rappelling into a pit, where you are always enclosed by walls. There was so much space and the river looked miles below me! Not only was my stomach in a knot, so was every other organ I can name, plus a few I’d better not name; but it took John Pint so long to snap his pictures that I had plenty of time to unwind and finally to relax and thoroughly enjoy the view as well as an exhilarating sensation that must be akin to flying. It was truly unique.”

We described the Santa Rosa Vista in volume one of our book “Outdoors in Western Mexico” and recently received an email from a reader in Chapala, Eileen Collard, requesting the coordinates for the lookout. When we told her we didn’t have them because the GPS hadn’t been invented back when we found the place, Eileen gathered together ten friends and ventured out along that lonely, rough brecha in a large van. They succeeded in finding the grassy knolls and the Santa Rosa Vista, which Eileen says “was definitely worth the drive.”

Before you head for this isolated mirador yourself, no

te that Eileen says, “The best view I’ve seen is from the Hacienda Lomajim, off highway 23,” where she celebrated an anniversary one year. “Unfortunately,” she adds, “i

t’s very expensive, the food was not very good and you can’t get into the property unless you’re staying there or scoping it our for an event of some sort. The highlight was when we looked down into the canyon from there and could see a golden eagle flying below us!”

That view from Hacienda Lomajim is so good that another friend, Guadalajara Yoga master Paul King, rates it “simply the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in Jalisco.” So, if you want to avoid bad roads and you have the cash, c

heck out haciendalomajim.com.

Of course, if it’s hanging in space over the deep multi-hued canyon that you hanker for, tune up your four-wheel drive and follow the directions below to Dead Man’s Cave.

How to get there

Head west out of Guadalajara on Vallarta-Highway 15. Pass the Periférico and go 10.4 kilometers to the Pemex station in La Venta del Astillero. Here turn north toward Nextipac and Santa Lucía. In Santa Lucía, at Calle López Mateos (N20 48.106 W103 29.701) turn north and head north towards La Mesita. At N20 50.906 W103 30.154, turn west and drive 6.5 kilometers until you reach the Santa Rosa Vista at N20 51.684 W103 32.082. If you want to see La Cueva de los Muertos and hang in space above the canyon, keep going northwest to N20 54.679 W103 35.976. You can see this route in Google Earth by looking for “Santa Rosa Vista” at Wikiloc.com. Driving time from the Periférico to the Vista: about an hour and a half.{/access}

In the footsteps of Lawrence & La Rusa

My wife Susy and I recently joined Salvador and Diana Mayorga for a tour of selected historical hotspots in Ajijic and Chapala. Our “Cicerone” for this visit was Jorge Varela, author of  “Mr. Lawrence,” a short piece of historical fiction (in Spanish) based on writer D.H. Lawrence’s 1923 stay in Chapala, where he began work on his novel “The Plumed Serpent.”

NatGeo photographer Ben Horton visits Guadalajara: How ‘Wow’ photos can save sharks and teach English

This was a talk I did not want to miss. National Geographic photographer Ben Horton was to speak about his work as an explorer during a conference promoting a new series of textbooks for teaching English with NatGeo photos and themes.

Since I’m interested in both exploration and teaching, this looked exactly like my cup of tea, and so it was. I just regret that so few people turned out for what I’d say was one of the best adventure and conservation presentations I’ve ever experienced.