I had visited this place my last trip as well http://motorcyclemenus.com/2011/01/21/entrada-de-sotano-de-los-golondrinas%E2%80%A6/ but this time it was very different.
Dave and I got there just before sundown with plans on camping. I was worried about time, but the road to the Sotano had been completely paved, and there was even palm trees and flowers planted on the sides of the road on the way up. Northern Mexico feels so much more prosperous than when I was there three years ago.
We got to the park entrance in plenty of time and were immediately surrounded by kids that wanted to guard our motorcycles (for a tip of course). They were cute and enthusiastic and immediately Dave and I felt welcome (when I was there three years ago I was the only tourista and felt nervous about even leaving my bike for an hour or two to see the golondrias, but this time I had no such concerns and felt 100% confident I could leave my bike on the street overnight and nothing would be missing.
Armed with an army of 14 kids, Dave and I opted to bring all, and I mean all, of our stuff down the 400 vertical feet steps to the camping hut by the Sotano. The kids were great and kept egging us to get there faster. Once there they just wanted to head back but we held most of them for a group photo. We gave them each 2 pesos and told them double tomorrow morning for the way back up and be here at 8:00am.
The sight of the Golondrias blew away the experience I had the first time. When I was there in January 2011, the sunrise never crested the mountains before the birds exited the cave, so with the flat light, you could never get a good focus on them as they spiraled around at 160kmph. Also it took over an hour for the 3 million sparrows to exit the cave versus the 20 minutes this time. This time the sun light the birds up with a hard contrast again the light rock, and the sound, the sound was so intense that it felt like the whole cave was shacking.
In the morning we packed up and were ready to go by 7:30 as we waited for our army of kids to help carry our gear back up but only one boy was there. Eager and waiting at 7:30, we told him we had to wait for the others to show up at 8:00am. 8:00 came and went and by 8:15 we were thinking we were on our own. We sent the boy to go and recruit other but he came back ten minutes later empty handed. At this point we realized he was all we had and started loading up for multiple trips up.
Our little sherpa, I’ve forgotten his name, was a real trouper and entrepreneur. He ran up the steps carrying his first load and was back for his second in no time. He did 3.5 trips in the time I did 2. With all our stuff up at our bikes we gave our new friend 15 pesos (he deserved every penny) and Dave gave him his wallmart comforter he picked up in Douglas before crossing the boarder. The pesos were expected but the boy got really excited about the comforter and rushed it home to show it off to his mom. Overall, the whole experiece at the cave was magical and am so glad I returned.