The storm is over. All that is left are some patches of snow on Paso de Cortes, which are being exploited to the very last snowflake by hundreds of people from Mexico City and Puebla – their children have probably talked them into coming here to witness the rare, exciting snow and build small, dirty snowmen on top of their car’s windshields (!). When we pass by Paso de Cortes at nine in the morning, the scenery already resembles a small fun fair, with improvised food stalls, barbecues, policemen with machine guns (they are there to protect the people from bandidos), and snow-capped Popo as a side attraction:
An early fiesta at Paso de Cortes. You can see the snow-capped Izta, Popo’s neighbouring volcano, in the background
Popo watching over the fiesta
And this is only the beginning of the day. Many more will arrive in the next few hours, but we won’t be around to witness the chaos. We need to dig a hole…
We have only spent a few days in Mexico, but so much has happened already: we have driven 600 km around the flanks of El Popo whilst getting a comprehensive crash course in Mexican music by Hugo; we have casually named previously unmapped lava flows; scared away scorpions with our merciless hammering on rocks; digested 3-cows-worth of Mexican food; and, above all, marveled at snow-covered Popo, which was silent witness and patron of all our endeavours.
But let’s wind back a bit and take it up at the beginning of our trip, Mexico City…
Dear reader, be aware… the content of this blog may be explosive! As I am writing this, the crater of the Mexican volcano, Popocatépetl, is alight with the glow of the hot lava that is slowly being squeezed out to the surface. Sometimes this happens very calmly, and only a trail of puffs of steam mark the activity.
But this apparent tranquility can quickly change into something much larger, much more violent, and much more dangerous to the 30 million people living around Popocatépetl. How can the volcano change its behavior so quickly? And what, exactly, does quick even mean in this case? Well, this is what we Volcanologists at the Museum are trying to find out, and that is why we are right now packing our geological hammers, getting ready to take off to Mexico!