I got up before dawn, as is my unfortunate habit—this time spurred on by typical rancho shenanigans. First a chorus of crowing roosters, which inspired a hundred dogs to begin barking, followed by a mysterious loudspeaker advertizing freshly killed chickens. As is often the case in the Mexican countryside, I couldn’t tell where any of this noise was coming from. The scrubby canyon looked deceptively peaceful as the rising sun lit the ragged silhouette of the hills. I blearily crawled out of the van and fumbled for the lighter and coffee accoutrements as I cursed dogs, roosters, chickens, and chicken sellers. However, my irritation  dispelled instantly as I took in the view to our north—Popocatepetl’s massive slopes against a bone blue sky.

That morning the volcano was wreathed in mist or possibly smoke, but lately its activity has been a lot less ambiguous. Tony Burton over at Geo-Mexico posted an interesting play-by-play of the current eruption, which has been disrupting flights out of Mexico City and is currently classified at alert level three. (A two mile high plume of steam and ash towers above the volcano.)