We soon learned that we what we were looking for was called Los Azules, the Blue Falls, but nobody seemed to know exactly how to get to them.
Fifteen years later, we got a clue. “You know that waterfall you’re always talking about — Los Azules? Well, I heard that the people down at Santo Toribio know how to reach it.”
I talked my wife into joining me and off we went down a very steep road to a tiny settlement at the bottom of Barranca La Toma, which boasts a grandiose church in the middle of the jungle. This is the shrine of Santo Toribio, a martyr killed in the Cristeros War.
After visiting the saint’s spartan lodgings, we mentioned Los Azules to some local children. Their eyes lit up. “We know the way — vámonos!” they said, practically dragging us on to a narrow path through an exotic landscape. Well, the path got steeper and steeper, the humidity got higher and higher, the mud got slipperier and slipperier and all of a sudden we were overlooking a chocolate-colored roaring river.
“Now what?” we asked our little guides.
“We have two choices,” they replied. “We can swim or we can try to cross the bridge.”
Well, the “bridge” was a precariously balanced tree trunk spanning the river which, by the way, smelled anything but inviting. Admitting that our adventurous spirit was not quite up to the standards of those little country kids, we gave up.
That 20-year search for an easy way to reach Los Azules ended quite by accident when I bumped into canyoneering guide Luis Medina.
“John, that waterfall you’ve been calling ‘elusive’ is only a half-hour walk from Tequila — and, guess what, it’s not one waterfall but three — and all of them very impressive. I’ll show you the trail this coming Friday.”
A few days later, Luis picked me up and off we drove to Tequila. We parked only one kilometer from the highway and began walking through gorgeous fields of blue-green agaves, along a road dotted with chunks of high-quality black obsidian.
At the end of the road we had been following we started down a narrow, steep trail surrounded by jungly growth. Suddenly we came to a clearing and there, far below us in all its splendor, lay the huge valley of La Toma, framed by high, red canyon walls.
“Welcome to the Machu Pichu of Tequila,” announced Luis.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the kind of waterfall I would expect to find in the Garden of Eden. It was 40 meters tall, wide and wispy, with a sunlit blue-green pool at its foot that beckoned us to jump right in for a swim — which, of course, we wasted no time in doing. The water, by the way, comes from springs near the top of the canyon and is perfectly clean.
To our surprise, the pool temperature was neither hot nor cold, but pleasantly cool. As we swam and played in the water, dozens of blue and red dragonflies danced in the air above us, exactly like the birds and butterflies in a Walt Disney movie.
In fact, the whole scene was more like a dream than reality and to top it off, we had this paradise all to ourselves the whole time we were there, which was most of the day.
“Luis,” I said, “this is heaven! In the U.S.A. this would be a national park with no-swimming signs and hundreds of tourists filing by just to get a glimpse of paradise.”
“You know,” replied Luis, “that’s just what my clients tell me when I bring them here — these falls are even more enticing when you’re rappelling down them.”
Luis mentioned that the flow of water in Los Azules is more or less the same all year round and also during storms. This means you don’t have to worry about flash floods in this canyon, as you must in many others.