Thursday, August 30, 2007

How Lady Emmeline Stuart viewed Veracruz and Jalapa

Google, if you can imagine this, has set out to organize all the information in the world and make it available for free. Alright that may be a tad hyperbolic, but the staggering vision of these people boggles my mind. I guess if you have their billions you can set your sights high.

But to get to the point of this post, in the course of writing my blog entries about Cofre de Perote I thought it might be interesting to include a Google Earth view of the mountain. I like to turn on the various overlays in Google Earth and when I captured the view for the blog I happened to have an overlay turned on that displayed a dozen or more yellow icons. I had not noticed these before so later on I went back to that view to determine what these icons represented. Turns out they represent printed volumes that Google scanned and turned in to regular text that you can search, read on line, or download them as a PDF file. Each of the icons contains the word Jalapa and that is why they cluster around the callout for the city. I think the term for this scheme is geo-tagging.

One icon I picked at random represents the book Travels in the United States, Etc.: During 1849 and 1850 where the good lady Emmeline Stuart waxes enthusiastically:

One morning, at sunrise, coming from Puebla, we saw the great mountain, Orizaba, reflecting the light of the rising luminary, and looking as if it was literally made partly of gold and partly of fire, so gloriously was it beaming back those dazzling splendors from its huge crest of glittering snow. Between Jalapa and Perote, and still more between Vera Cruz and Jalapa, the astonishing prodigality and unutterable magnificence of the tropical vegetation is perfectly overpowering ! I could not have believed, without beholding it, that such a Paradise remained to this world ! Such colors—such blooms—such forests of flowers ! Such inconceivable luxuriance of foliage and fruit! You can not for a moment " begin to imagine" the glories of these scenes—their inexhaustible variety—their indescribable exuberance—their extraordinary and matchless brilliancy of coloring !
Very poetic writing, so typical of that long ago era. If you are fascinated to read more by the gentle lady here is a link you can follow.

Seasonal views of Cofre de Perote

Clockwise from upper left: the "chest" from fairly close up, another view of the western side from several miles away -- taken in spring or summer, the eastern side of Cofre de Perote as viewed from my bedroom window in Xalapa, the area around the village of Conojo (picture was posted on Panoramio). Panoramio is the Google photo sharing application that allows you to pinpoint the spot on the earth the photo was taken from. To be really accurate you need a global positioning device, which I don't have yet.

Topographic map of Cofre de Perote

This topographic map shows the route up the Western side of Cofre de Perote to the summit. To see an enlarged view click on the map or to see an even larger view go to this web site and click on their map.

On our drive to the summit, we left the main highway a few miles to the Northeast of the town of Perote at the Los Molinos junction. From there our drive was on good paved road to the small village of Pescado. Here the road changes from asphalt to cobblestone and you will think you are driving on a dry stream bed. At one point we were suddenly passed by some four-wheel off-road vehicles going like hell down the track. Later on we came upon a man leading three horses towards Pescado. Horses and four wheelers make sense on this kind of road!

I found it interesting that the Ski Mountaineer web site talks about possibly skiing on Cofre, but so far it seems no one has officially tried this. I've never seen any mention of skiing on Cofre in any guide book or any other web page that I know of, but my next post will show some photographs of Cofre dusted with snow so perhaps some day some hardy soul will try this.

If you seriously contemplate driving to the top of Cofre make sure your vehicle is up to the task and allow plenty of time. Weather can be a problem so pick a day when you can clearly see the top of the mountain and leave well before noon. Take a cell phone if you have one and let someone know you are going and when you will arrive back. Plan on at least six or seven hours for the round trip. I would not advise driving on the mountain if there is any snow or the forecast is for snow or even rain. This is not a trip to be undertaken lightly.