This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!

Letters from Mexico

Letters - Where Expats Blog

Cloud Atlas Tepoztlan

January 25, 2020

There is a downside to these sky views. The active volcano, Popocatepetl, is only 25 miles away. When the wind direction is towards Tepoztlan carrying volcanic debris, the air quality is foul. This is very noticeable during a large explosion, or at the end of the dry season, when smoke from forest fires and agricultural burning gets added.

Last year, after a few months in the States, when I returned to Mexico, my eyes were itchy and watery. Last weekend, I awoke one morning with a cough, sneezing, and a runny nose. I thought I was coming down with a cold, but the symptoms disappeared shortly. I heard that there was a major eruption. I monitor this activity on the web.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve looked at the skies. I loved lying on my back on the grass, gazing at clouds, and seeing strange animals in their shapes. More recently, I like photographing them.

Tepoztlan, Mexico. Slideshow of photos from my apartment window. Video by Don Karp

The Active Volcano, Popocatepetl

Tepoztlan, Mexico. Popo at sunrise. Photos by Don Karp

House, large, rear

Tepoztlan, Mexico. Whimsical "angel cloud" at sunset. Photo by Don Karp

In central Mexico, there are two seasons—dry and rainy. During the rainy season, we often see spectacular skies, with clouds oozing down the strange mountain shapes that characterize Tepoztlan. I like to call them “mystical mists.” I call my photo collection “cloud atlas,” after the movie with the same name by the Wachowskis, the ones who also made the Matrix. These skies remind me of those I’ve seen in Japanese art.

Tepoztlan, Mexico. Popo at sunrise with town below in the lower left of the images. The first image (upper left) shows the valley after sunrise. Photos by Don Karp

Notice that the color in the above photos is washed out. That's because light levels were low at sunrise and I used a zoom to capture the volcano. Popo is only visible on very clear mornings. Usually there are clouds or debris in the air from causes I mentioned earlier that block views of Popo, but add to incredible sky colors, or odd shapes, like in the initial photo.

Some of my expat readers in Mexico have expressed annoyance when I mention anything negative about Mexico. I try to express what I experience, both the positive and the negative. Please check my other blogs, in the archives, and you will see a lot of positive comments. Otherwise I'd not be here.

When I came home from that trip last year, as I mentioned above, the air quality had a very bad effect on me. I was thinking of moving elsewhere. But where? Everyplace on our earth these days has some form of negativity associated with it, so why leave to trade one fault for another? I still find Tepoztlan the best place for me.

Tepoztlan, Mexico. Clouds draped over the mountains during rainy season. Photos by Don Karp

Popo at sunrise comp
Popo over Tepoz comp