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Over The Network

Brewer's Yucatan trip 2008

by Betty Brewer

Our Adventure Caravan officially begins tomorrow, January 22, 2008. We have met all of our fellow travelers, 41 great friendly and adventurous people. According to our roster, we have 21 rigs total, 18 motorhomes, 1 trailer and 2 fifth Wheels and 14 tow cars. Almost all participants have been on at least one caravan and the veterans have been on 5 caravans.

To let you know the tone of the group, we've already had several happy hours, lots of laughs and group meals together and the trip has not yet even begun. We are in Pharr, Texas (way down on the south tip of Texas)

Our trip log book says Yucatan & Caribbean Sea and it will be 46 Days ending on March 7, 2008.

January 22. 2008

We had our Trip Orientation meeting this afternoon. We got the "rules of the road” and learned all about those long time stories that are meant to scare us away from our adventure. Only 3 couples have never yet been to Mexico so we mostly know what we are in for. We leave at 7:30 am and will travel 218 miles on our first travel day. We learned, from Pat and Alice our Wagon Masters, about the Goofy award and the Care bear and will watch other participants for their worthiness of our "praise."

Terry and I went to Olive Garden for dinner and made our last cell phone calls for 2 months. We have put our Verizon phone on "suspend" until we return. We hope you enjoy our travels.

January 23, 2008

Pharr, Texas, USA to CD Victoria, Mexico

We departed promptly at 7:30 am and traveled over the Rio Grand River into Reynosa, Mexico with no problems. We are getting used to the 21 of us on the CB radio making announcements and learned along the way that someone had a bolt in their tire. (Hex the tail gunner got him to a tire shop along the road right away) someone else had to stop to fix an awning thing. Someone else had to stop for a bladder break. There are no secrets on the road in a caravan.

Instantly as we crossed the border we realized we were in a foreign country. The blight of the planet and most especially in border towns is the PLASTIC GROCERY BAG. Mexico has not yet embraced the notion of Adopting Highways and the roadways are littered with those bags hanging in bushes and trees. Note to self: lets do away with those bags. One huge advantage to traveling with a caravan is that the military checkpoints ignore us. They do not want to tie up traffic questioning each rig so we were waved, with smiles, through each of 3-armed military checkpoints today.

As we traveled through rolling hills on this very foggy and cool morning, livestock roam freely as do dogs and sheep. The roads were good and even though they were only 2 lanes in most places the shoulders are wide enough that 3 big rigs can pass in the road as we experienced as all the 18 wheelers passed us trying to get “out of our caravan.”

When we fueled up we learned some Spanish. The model of our Country Coach is a Magna and the name is painted right beside the fuel tank. This is a Spanish word for a grade of gasoline, so the filling station attendants were very hesitant to put diesel in our rig when it clearly states Magna. We figured it out and fueled up with our desired diesel. We put in 173.10 liters and it cost 1030 Pesos. We’re not sure yet about the conversions but we think this was 45.7 gallons. We exchanged dollars yesterday for pesos at a rate of 10.80 and have 27,000 Pesos to start the trip. It all looks like monopoly money but I’m told if we just subtract a 0 from the peso amount it will be roughly the equivalent of the American dollar. I need to be armed with this information for my shopping ventures.

At 2:30 this afternoon we made it into a lovely camp ground (the only one in town) . It took a while for Terry to position our rig among and between the trees but we finally got a signal and can send this post to you. Rosa, the owner of the campground came out and gave our group a few Spanish lessons and some safety hints. We are to store our credit cards in our safe. No need to carry a wallet full of cards that will not be used here. We are to carry copies of our driver’s license and NEVER give our official paperwork to anyone. Rosa is a former teacher and gave us some tips to shop. Carry a tablet and ask “Cuanto” and have a vendor write down the price. She showed us how to tell the vendor we are cheap and want a better price. She told us “donde” would get us all through Mexico as it is the word to ask… where? I am so impressed with her generous offer of safety and language tips. Her hospitality set a delightful tone at our first night margarita party. We retired early as we have another short travel day tomorrow to Tampico. The photos are of our group on the 30 minute lunch break at a PEMEX station and of Rosa and Pat our Wagon master.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 221
Temperatures: High 83 Low 53
GPS Coordinates: N 23degrees44.617 W 99 degrees 08.146

January 24, 2008

CD Victoria to Tempico (or close)

Terry and I loved the 9 am departure time, as we are not early birds. Every one was ready to go and a HUGE advantage of a caravan is that Hex the tail gunner walked out into traffic today to stop them so that we could get out of the RV Park on to a busy street, two or three rigs at time to get under way. We followed the “book” word for word and tope by tope. Tope is the Mexican word for speed bump. I mean to tell you they slow traffic, without police, with these bumps in the road.

We traveled through more rolling hill country with farms and scrub brush trees along the way and a few small towns. Again the caravan got through a military checkpoints without stopping. Those young guys in uniform are all armed and still smile at us.

We arrived at our destination; Tempico, Country Express Hotel Parking LOT just after noon but did not venture out into town as it was not advised. WE would have gone swimming in the beautiful pool, but the wind was blowing and we were shy. Instead most of the group played games as a group and had yet another happy hour. I was one of the hostess’ for Happy hour. Did I tell you served SPAM (a Terry favorite)

Tonight I gave the RVForum information for friends and family to join in my travel log. I hope you enjoy. I also honored, our late departed Friend Shayne tonight with a photo on the rvforum . RIP.

Most of the group had dinner at the very nice HOTEL tonight and I may attest that the marguerites were wonderful! Earlier in the evening the owner of the hotel cam out and gave each rig a souvenir of Mexico.

We leave early (6:45 am so I am off to bed tonight)

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 117
Temperatures: High 73 Low 60
GPS Coordinates: N 22 N 30.966 W 98 07.199

January 25, 2008

Tempico to Costa Esmeralda

The Adventure Caravan brochure advertising this Yucatan Adventure noted that this trip is not for the faint at heart and today proved that to be so. What an adventure. We awoke at o’ dark thirty and departed by the dawn’s early light. 7am. While 237 miles is a normal driving day for us, I shall never ever again complain about any US road as we experienced the bumpiest roads with potholes the size of small cars. Terry thought some of the potholes looked like bomb craters. We detoured around two auto accidents with our trip leader stopping the oncoming truck traffic so we could sneak by over rows and rows of TOPES. Each little village has a dozen or more topes that slow us down to a stop to inch over. One in the caravan was not watching the book carefully enough and took a wrong turn. Someone else followed them down the wrong path. We waited until the group found itself again. Gosh I’m glad that was not I. As we headed toward the coast, the scenery transitioned from dry grasses and yucca to a more jungle environment with Palm trees and tropical plants. The grasses are green and the humidity is high. We passed lots of Mexican farms with corn growing and then orchard after orchard of oranges. We saw donkeys, dogs and ducks and pigs in a pasture. We saw goats in gullies and a possum nearly became a road kill for us. The PEMEX station we chose for fuel, while the rest of the group stopped for lunch, was closed so we headed on up the road on our own and waited for the caravan to catch up. We crossed through 5 tollbooths today and think we spent about 20 us bucks on them. I’ve still must learn to convert the pesos in my head. The RV Park we are in tonight is steps from the ocean but we got in just before dark so have not yet explored. The RV park is washing rigs tomorrow; $25 for both a car and motorhome. I forgot to tell you yesterday that Terry won the Wheel roulette. Each person who chooses can put in a dollar and when we stop the next day, the number of the rig (which is painted on tailgunners tire) that ends up on the ground wins the pot. We won $16 and promptly spent all of it and more going out to dinner and killer margaritas. Tomorrow will be a tourist day and we are glad not to have another driving day in front of us. We need to rest.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 237 Driving average speed 28.1 It took 8 hours and 25 minutes.
Temperatures: High 74 Low 58
GPS Coordinates: N 201692.7 N 30.966 W 9649.693

January 26, 2008

Costa Esmeralda

Today was a tourist day as opposed to a driving day. Our luxury tour bus departed at 9 am and we were happy to have someone else do the driving so both drivers and navigators could enjoy the scenery. We drove 1.5 hours out to the El Tajin Ruins and Museum, while our tour guide gave us a verbal description of the area and it’s history. The Mexican history is rich in culture, exploration and a variety of races. Our guide told us that on tours it is a guideline to never discuss religion nor politics yet it is nearly impossible to discuss the history of Mexico without encroaching each topic as it was the Spanish Catholic Kings who once ordered exploration of the area. Cortez was given “credit” for paving the way for exploration of area. Again I wish that I paid more attention in my world history classes!

We learned today about an ancient Indian civilization dating back to the 1100’s. The Tajin Ruins and Museum demonstrate the rich culture found semi recently buried in the Mexican Jungle. We learned from a very knowledgeable and educated guide of Tajin heritage about the archeologist’s interpretation of the long lost culture. This culture practiced human sacrifice, believing that the blood of a fallen football player would yield a bountiful crop on the next years harvest. I’m taking all of this in verbally from a guide with a heavy accent as when I went to purchase the book on the area it was written only in Spanish so it was of no value to me. We walked the ancient village and climbed up on the hillsides to envision what it might have been like those many years ago. Questions remain… what happened to those people, why did their culture die out…What could happen to us one day?

At the conclusion of our walk of the grounds the Papantia Flyers treated us with a demonstration. They defy vertigo by climbing a very large pole and hanging upside down roped by ankles and fall to the ground while a fellow native beats drums and a flute plays, all I can think of is how afraid I am for these guys lives. There are no guide wires, safety straps etc.

After a delightful gratis mole lunch, a surprise courtesy of Adventure Caravans (due to the fact that most of us were over 60 and got in free to the museum) we shopped with the local vendors. I spotted a woman who was hand embroidering the blouses she was selling. She gave me an offer I could not refuse and I now own an embroidered blouse in a” muy grande” size. Terry had roasted corn on a stick as did other members of the group.

When we got back to the RV park our cars and rigs were washed ( just in time for a rain tomorrow) and Terry had a part repaired on the motorhome. The cost of his repair was $2.95 US. Can you believe it? For sure Terry paid more than that just to be fair. A trip briefing was held with notes on how to follow along so that we don’t get lost if we get separated from the group. We depart at 8:30 am for Vera Cruz.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 66 Low 60 .02 inch of rain
GPS Coordinates: N 220 16.927 W 98 49.693

January 27, 2008

Costa Esmeralda to Vera Cruz, Vera Cruz

Our leisurely Sunday drive with an 8:30 departure time produced some new sights today. We saw more of the same little villages along the way more colorful and in my opinion neater than those before or it could have been that the sun came out and everything looks better on a sunny day. We continued to see a variety of cattle grazing in the field, some Brahma looking types with long ears that touch the ground as they graze. Egrets nest in circles around the cattle as they mutually live in the tropical grasses. We passed fields of banana trees and noted blue plastic bags’ surrounding the banana bunches. We learned the sacks are placed there to hasten the ripening and that the color of the bag denotes when it will be time to harvest that bunch. We saw fields of sugar cane and harvesting being done by hand. They produce a lot of sugar cane and over load their truck in the transport. Vera Cruz is the city we are in and we are still in the state of Vera Cruz too. The 3 main exports of Vera Cruz are Coffee, honey and oil.

We experienced much better roads today and even got up to 60 mph only to be slowed again by several detours around road construction sites. As the day warmed the beautiful ocean appeared on our left. The guide yesterday told us how hard the moist salt ocean air is on the homes. Iron rusts, cars rust, homes mold and yet to us it was a beauty to see.. We pulled off the road to our RV Park around 2 pm and traveled on a very sandy road to the park. Much to our delight we are parked facing straight into the ocean with an ocean view from all front and side windows. Now we have no power, water or sewer but were reminded by others in the group who have no view and do have hook ups that their power is not much better than nothing and no one can drink this water.

Our Welcome to Mexico dinner tonight was held tonight. My coconut shrimp was delicious. Terry’s steak was delicious and the margaritas were the best. I won the Care Bear animal award tonight for helping to save Fern and Annette’s marriage. It seems she MUST have Internet to keep in touch and I helped them join the RV Forum and their family has joined too. Welcome to Mexico! Welcome any other friends and family of this Adventure Caravan. Tomorrow is a free day!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 123
Temperatures: High 80 Low 63
GPS Coordinates: N 19.05531 W 96.02309

January 28, 2008

Veracruz, Free Day

We did not move our vehicles today. We held a beach clean up at 9 am and most of the group, able to walk the beach, came prepared with rubber gloves and plastic trash bags to clean up our beach. We worked for 55 minutes and bagged over 10 big bags of trash. Jack arrived with a chair as he thought he was going to be the chairman of the group and supervise our work. We all want to recycle more for our planet and to stop making plastic items. John L. bagged the most ( 4 huge bags) and earned the care Bear award tonight for doing so. Our beachfront value is greater today for making a difference on our planet. Pictures show our beach front view.

Many made a Wal-Mart or Costco run and some of us just relaxed on the beach today, as we had no agenda in sight.

Chicken Award went tonight to Owen who is traveling with 2 women and all are having a good time! Tonight we got to use the facilities at this RV Park. The water slide proved good fun and entertainment for all. What bunch of wet heads. The evening was topped off with Mexican hot dogs which are hot dogs roasted over our own fire and then wrapped in tortillas. Please note the utensil Bill brought which was purchased at the Yuma flea market and is called a rake. Watermelon and cherry cobbler was dessert. We are happy campers who will tour Veracruz at 8:15 am.

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 83 Low 68 Humidity 91%
GPS Coordinates: N 22 N 30.966 W 98 07.199

January 29, 2008

Veracruz, Tourist Day

The bus picked us up at 8:30 and took us to The Grand Café “The In” place for coffee and or breakfast this morning in downtown Veracruz. I had a lechero, which is like a latte, and Terry ordered scrambled eggs. The restaurant is the original built in 1908 and is still going strong. The coffee making equipment is pretty impressive. We wandered around the streets looking at shops and were then taken by bus to the original Fort built in the late 1500’s ( and took 300 years to construct) It is built right into the gulf of Mexico on a base produced out of coral and most of the labor was done by Indians under the direction of the Spaniards. It’s late tonight and all the facts are running through my head so history buffs might want to question any thing I recall from today. I was suffering all day from the big sunburn I got while beaching it yesterday. Oh the price of not using any sun block!

From the Fort we traveled to a very old and quaint town of La Antigua for a yummy garlic shrimp lunch. We toured the oldest church in Veracruz and the home thought to be that of Cortez. We saw a big Ceiba tree and posed under it. It was pretty hot and very humid today and many were wilting. We came back to the RV park for an hour break and then returned by bus to Boca Del Rio for a surprise treat. The mayor and Secretary of Tourism greeted us and provided front row seats for a dancing light/water show to welcome us to Mexico. Mini tacos were provided for dinner. As we walked the town on this balmy evening, local dancers and musicians treated us to their talents and we tasted peanut butter liquor made locally with a 95% alcohol. Many purchased bottles of it but I saved myself from the extra calories and did not make a purchase. By now it is well after dark and we have a 300-mile drive in front of us tomorrow to Villahermosa but they’ve promised better roads than before.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 85 Low 68 Humidity 95%
GPS Coordinates: N 22 N 30.966 W 98 07.199

January 30, 2008

Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico

We had a 7 am departure time and we scrambled for the one dump at this park in Veracruz. At 7:15, under the light of a beautiful sunrise, all of us had pulled out and as we had a pretty much straight shot down the toll roads today. We were to travel “on our own.” Pressure was indeed on the navigator to follow “the book” and get us to our destination. It was a long mileage day and the first hurdle we encountered was a huge CRANE on a bridge under construction a few miles out of our RV park. No problemo, just creep along at a snail pace but it did separate the group. Much later in the day, we saw a bridge of astonishing engineering feat. The book said to get off and look at the statue but we did not. We followed the directions into Villahermosa.

Last October when we knew we were going on this trip, we heard in the news, how Villa Hermosa was 90 % flooded. Today we found, the park, mostly grassy, wet in the middle and the good new is , it has not rained for 4 days. We arrived way ahead of schedule as the roads today were better than before but still had their “moments of bumpy.” We traversed a long narrow driveway and were directed onto a grassy field.. They have completely redone their pool and most of the group enjoyed it all afternoon.

It was a significant day in that Bruce had a 70th birthday today. The group had happy hour and made a baked potato feast. The only problem was that before cake could be served, Terry and I were swarmed with a biting insect so we hurried back inside to the comfort of our rig. Thanks to a Russell Mahoney’s cure of Benadrly spray, our bites subsided and I decided we don’t have to go home after all. Hopefully they saved cake and we can spread Bruce’ birthday over a few days. Our Villahemosa tour begins at 8:30 am.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 295
Temperatures: High 89 Low 66 Humidity 84%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 58.927 W 093 2.782
Tolls $64.10 US in tolls with no tow car.
Fuel 57.7 23 gallons for $130 Us dollars

January 31, 2008

Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico

We had an 8:30 rendezvous time with our tour busses. Two little mini VW vans pulled up to our RV “park” to take us on today’s tours. The tour company calculated 3 vans for our 42 people. Yes we have seen pick-ups with upwards of 15 people loaded onto them, but it was not the comfort level we would enjoy. One of the vans was late so several people drove their cars but Terry and I were lucky enough to get a ride in this “Tijuana Taxi.” It was only about 5 miles to the Park/Museum and what a ride. Speakers blared out the back with very exciting Mexican music and we hung onto the grab bars for dear life as this little town has quite a fast moving traffic pattern.

We arrived at the Parque Museo La Venta and began a leisurely-guided tour through this lovely garden site, which was a combination zoo and archeological display. It was actually a Poet who envisioned this park and established the surroundings in this tropical paradise.

The stone head artifacts are from the Olmec Culture, thought to be the original people of Mexico. Terry thought the jungle environment reminded him of Viet Nam and he watched for trip wires all through out the display. They had a huge flood here in October but with the efforts of sand bags were able to protect the stone figures from the floodwaters. We learned the stone figures are dated from between 400 and 1200 BC. The figures either depict humans, animals or a combination. While our guide was limited in English, he had knowledge and pride in his heritage and history. The main God was that of the Sun and a jaguar was thought to be holy.

We saw two spotted leopards, a crocodile, spider monkeys, a relative of the anteater, and numerous birds on our tour.

We had the afternoon free to enjoy the biggest pools I have ever seen and partake of happy hour snacks yet again!

Tonight we were cautioned that a border stop in the route tomorrow would include an agriculture inspection. Chicken, pork and eggs are subject to being taken from us. So we had scrambled eggs for lunch and it is chicken for dinner. Many others had pork chops. Each Mexican State determines it’s own rules for imports.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 91 Low 71 Humidity 96%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 58.927 W 093 2.782

February 1, 2008

It’s a new month and Day 11 of our Adventure. We had a travel day today and are in Isla Aguada (Freedom Shores).

We left at 8 am and navigated the very busy city streets of Villhahermosa, complete with returnos (U TURNS), glorietas (traffic circles) and construction typical of all roads we’ve ever traveled anywhere. Our destination was out on a sand spit along the Gulf of Mexico and GPS coordinates have us in the water but we are in a lovely RV park. The scenery today became more and more lush. By lush I mean tropical, water standing, marshes and lots of green. Trees are covered in bright flowers and the houses are bright too, even if only on the front side. We saw many push, pedal carts out among us in traffic today. As we neared our beachfront, the narrow strand of road showed definite signs of the recent past hurricane damage. Parts of the road would be crumbly or missing so the driver had to pay attention to the erosion patterns. At one point today our speed got up to 34 mph and it felt like we were doing 100 mph. Our moving average today was 29.1 MPH.

Travel days are eventful. With 22 rigs traveling together connected by CB radio we feel the pain of other who “mess up.” A few senior moments today resulted in missed turns, going under tunnels not expected, knocking off mirrors on trees and Terry and I found ourselves in the lead as the Wagon masters were held up at a Military Check point. We lost our eggs at the checkpoint as others lost their oranges. The last leg of the trip revealed the Mexico we came to visit. The turquoise blue seas came up beside us and this RV Park is right on the ocean. We do not have the ocean view tonight but we are very close to the restaurant and the bathrooms if we need.

At Happy Hour tonight Hex got Bull’s ladder and climbed a coconut tree to extract a coconut. After several hacks with a machete by Pat, we enjoyed coconut milk and rum. Ekkkkkkk. Then we enjoyed sweet fresh coconut. Yum. Animal awards were given tonight for those present. Following that we put out our laundry in a big sack for a morning pick up and headed to dinner. I ate yet another shrimp dinner that was a 5 on a scale of 10. (By now I am getting picky).

I caught up on email (thankful to have a signal between the many shade trees on our sight.) Tomorrow we rent a cart to tour the city.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 143
Temperatures: High 87 Low 63 Humidity 84%
GPS Coordinates: N 18 46.59 W 91 29.40

February 2, 2008

Isla Aguada, 1100 miles into our trip.

Today was a free but very busy day. Many in our group decided to take the taxi tour of town. Motorcycles pulled our “chariots” through this little village. We saw the Pharmacia, (Terry bought bug anti itch cream) a grocery store, a butcher shop and many, many homes of differing amenities. We toured along the bay and stopped at a shell shop where I bought a necklace made of local shells. This is a fishing village where fishermen go out early in the morning and the catch of the day seems to be conch shells.

Those in our group did a variety of activities today. We had folks cleaning rigs, doing laundry, swimming in the ocean, and reading. It is good to have a free day. I personally soaked in the ocean to see if my fire ant/ mosquito bites would subside with the salt water. I was ok until a 4 year old Australian tourist told me there were eels in the water and then I was outta there. We enjoyed a cook out of Texas beef brisket dinner tonight complete with chocolate cake and red beans. Owen and Paula provided the Texas music. Following the dinner some adventuresome souls ventured down to the local street for a Mardi gras parade. My bug bites kept me inside composing this log. We leave at 6:30am ohhhhhhhhhhhh. But it is a short day.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 87 low 74 Humidity 89

February 3, 2008

Campeche (Club Nautico)

Today was the most beautiful of all our drives after an eventful start. Hex , our tail gunner, thumps tires early in morning to make sure all are safe and discovered a bulge on Allen’s fifth wheel tire. Terry assisted by crawling under the fifth wheel and supplying a socket to retrieve the spare tire. So the question is, how many new clean shirts does it take to change a tire? Answer= 2. By the way this tire was 5 years old.

Once under way the first 100 yards of travel resulted in a motorcycle taxi blocking the road and requiring some tricky maneuvers by rigs to round the glorietas on the wrong side of the road, or go up over the curb, or turn right onto a street designed for pedestrians only. Each of these options was taken by some of the rigs. From then it was an easy drive with but one main turn of the day. (Two in our group managed to miss that only turn of the day) Now we all laugh about our course corrections!

If you picture the Gulf of Mexico as a giant letter C , we were at the bottom of the C today and traveled North. We passed through two military checkpoints and then traveled on a very good road for miles with the turquoise waters of the gulf to our left. White sandy beaches, palm trees and miles of uninhabited shores were those of National Geographic beauty. We watched big pelicans dive for their meals in the seas. We traveled through a few little picturesque towns that advertised shrimp cocktails but we had no good place to pull over and stop in a 40-foot motor home. We passed through only one toll booth today. Can you figure out the amount we were to pay for a 40 foot single axle motorhome with NO toad?

When we arrived at our destination, Club Nautico, we found a very manicured park with the best of both worlds, a beautiful pool and the beach. I ordered my first Pina colada of the trip as they did not serve any margaritas. Go figure… it is Mexico. Terry ordered a huge shrimp cocktail poolside. We swam, we bathed in the sun and later we had a Superbowl Party in the recreation room. The game was on a very small TV and only in Spanish so after dinner was served Terry and I adjourned to the comfort of our motorhome, 37 inch TV and it was in English. We are able to get a few Direct TV stations.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 107
Temperatures: High 90 Low 73 Humidity 71%
GPS Coordinates: N 19 46.41 W 90 38.51

February 4, 2008

Campeche

Today we toured Campeche on our own. It is the Capitol city of the State. It is known for having one of the most impressive Carnivals in Mexico. In our drive into the city today we saw massive floats parked along streets, remnants of confetti, streamers and it sure looked like we missed the party. All public museums and Cathedrals and the 7 fortresses in the city were closed today (as they usually are on Mondays) and tomorrow they will be closed due to Constitution day. We rode into town with Jack and Shirley so that we could make a grocery store run and to see a few sights of the city. We took pictures along the shores of this quaint fishing city, which is very clean. The MEGA Grocery store was a tourist treat in itself. It is a massive grocery store on the second floor of a building and we were amazed that the escalator that goes up to the second floor accommodates shopping cats that have special wheels. It is very strange to see every product labeled in Spanish. Gosh how I wish I had taken Spanish in high school instead of French. I knew the familiar color and label of Clorox but I could not determine if it was scented or plain. We had a hard time figuring out how much Deet was in the insect spray we wanted.

We found a lunch spot along the Gulf and used our limited knowledge of Spanish to order shrimp tacos. Shirley and I acted out the ingredients of a dish. You should see our rendition of fish or chicken! Jack ordered a shrimp chili relleno and we were all very happy with our meal. We spent the after noon back in the pool at the campground enjoying the rafts we bought at the Mega store. My insect bites are healing and I thank you for all of your suggested remedies.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 92 Low 68 Humidity 89%
GPS Coordinates: N 19 46.41 W 90 38.51

February 5, 2008

Campeche Day 3

Today was another free day in Campeche. Terry took the optional tour to the Edzna Ruins and left at 7 am with 7 hearty souls in our group. I opted to sleep in, drink coffee, do my email, defrost the refrigerator and swim in the pool. I got shots of the brave divers going off the high dive as we rated their skills. Thses will be in a seperate post to follow)

Terry returned around noon and reported that the ruins were fantastic. Tonight after our potluck, Ede told about them and I took her notes to make my comments here.

The Edzna Ruins (300 BC) are Mayan ruins discovered in 1956 and are only 25% uncovered. The remainder is still buried in the jungle. The pyramids are 5 stories high. If you could see from the top of one pyramid to the next you could see to the next community. The very educated and articulate guide revealed that he is Mayan and that there is much intermix of races. In fact Mayan’s here have 2 names, one Mayan and one Spanish. A path to the sea was available to all structures here as salt was an essential element of the life. The manatee and deer were used for their fat for pigment to paint on rocks. The roads were wide so that the rocks could be rolled on logs. The structures here are made of rock and covered with stucco and white washed. The original red paint was made of pigment from fruit and deer fat. Needless to say it was a happy day in archeology when this structure was discovered. Terry noted how steep the climb down from them was! I am a little sorry that I did not go today but my tan is coming along nicely.

Fern offered to make his beans for the group and it turned into a caravan potluck, which we all enjoyed at 4 pm. At 7 pm we were invited to a “Sing along” with Fern and we sang our lungs out to the songs we knew the words to and hummed along if we didn’t know the words.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 92 Low 73 Humidity 86%
GPS Coordinates: N 19 46.41 W 90 38.51

Campeche Feb 5 Continued.

What Betty Did all day.

February 6, 2008

Merida

We had a travel day on very good roads. We are told that the poorest roads are behind us now (except for the return trip on some of those same roads.) We’ve entered the State of Yucatan so my journal log title is accurate. We were waved through the agricultural inspection where we had been warned of losing eggs, pork, chicken and cheese. The officials boarded some of the RV’s but not much was “taken.” We had used up all of the potential foods to lose and now will shop like crazy here in Merida which is a big city. When we arrived at this grassy RV Park that had been advertised as “full hook up”, we found the power does not work in many spots, the water spigots have lost their thread and sewer is not available at all sights. But hey, we are in the Yucatan, with wonderful friends and we don’t complain. Some offered to run extension cord to the rigs of others, some moved to park in shade. Everyone is very helpful. The level of amenities in Mexican RV parks is not something we can count on. We are flexible. We are frugal with our supplies. We are having fun. When we arrived it was around 12:30 and steamy hot!!!! Clear skies were blistering us in the heat, which made our quest for power all the greater. Within a couple of hours big clouds covered the sky, cooling the temperatures.

The shopping came to us. Jose and Ricky came selling hats and hammocks. Many purchases were made. Ricky showed pictures of how the hats are woven from palm fronds by his family. The work is done in caves to avoid the humidity that stretches the frond too much. Terry and I bought the tourist mid-grade hats (two for 300 pesos) The good ones felt like real cloth and less like straw but they were more pesos. The swinging hammocks take a week to make and many of those were sold too.

During our happy hour, it started to rain and we were happy to be under the cover of an open palapa. Not one single complaint was made about the rain. The temps dropped nicely. The animal awards were presented. WE would have won the tire roulette again tonight but we had forgotten to contribute the $1 to the pot last night. I’ve now paid in advance for the next travel day.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 124
Temperatures: High 95 Low 76 Humidity 90%
GPS Coordinates: N 12 02.494 W 89 37.821

February 7, 2008

Merida

The cutest little open-air bus picked us up for our city tour of Merida. The Mexican guide had excellent English skills and imparted information to us for over 2 hours. I did not have anything with me on which to take notes so here goes my memory of the morning. The State of Yucatan is flat, having no mountains, no rivers and no lakes. They get water from underground springs and within the City of Merida there are 19 such natural springs and 18 of those are built within private residences. Merida has been such a contrast from the remote little villages we’ve seen. A huge Mall is within walking distance of our park and has an ice-skating rink inside as well as a casino. Today I saw many familiar stores Simmons mattress, Pirelli Tires, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and we were told that Taco Bell does not operate in all of Mexico.

The houses are such a contrast in styles from each other. Tract housing does not exist here. One modest little house can be right next door to a mansion. The City was founded in the mid 1500’s so as you might imagine some of the homes are real “Fixer Uppers.” There is a strong French influence here and the main street is built to look like the Champs Ellysee in Paris. Many of the mansions are French in style but we saw a Chinese home, several Moroccan style and of course the Spanish Haciendas. Many of the commercial building that are now Banks or insurance companies had a history of housing Governors, hospitals and even a prison. Recycling the buildings is evident. The city bus dropped us off for a short stop at a Park dedicated to all the Countries in North and South America. A tower is carved with the name and National symbol of each Country. I captured a picture of Mike and Eileen, our Canadian friends, beside the monument dedicated to Canada. Our guide told the 3 stories of how Yucatan got its name. They were similar but here is the one I can recall. When the Spanish explorers landed and asked the Mayan people “Where are we, what do you call this place?” The Mayan Indians could not understand the language of the question and answered in their language “I don’t understand what you are saying!” That answer loosely translates into Yucatan. Another stop was in the Mercantile for Handicrafts. Many of us have new dresses, shirts, hats, tablecloths and snakes. We are true tourists at heart. Of course Terry had 3 carnitas tacos from a street vendor. The Meridian people are very friendly with happy faces. Note my last photo, which captured some curiosity of our busload.

When we returned to the “Trailer Park” (as RV Parks are known in Mexico) we made a run to the grocery store and walked to the mall next door. The evening was capped off with an ice cream social provided by Eileen and Trish who won the Super bowl Pool. Oh we had Thunder, lightening and it poured rain during our evening. We know why all the buildings have mold on the sides!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 92 Low 72 Humidity 95% .76 inches of rain
GPS Coordinates: N 12 02.494 W 89 37.821

February 8, 2008

Merida, Free Day We got to choose our own activities.

Our destination this morning with 8 of us in 2 cars was Dzibilchaltun. Now try to say that fast. It is the site of a Mayan Ruin and the name means, “place where writing appears on a flat stone.” After paying a parking fee, admission fee, and taxes to get in, we hired a guide to tell us what we were seeing. We opted for the short tour, which was about 1.5 hours. This ruin was significant in that it represented all 3 of the Mayan eras. We could see where the Spanish had come in and decided they did not like the Mayan gods and tore down their temples and used the building materials in their construction of an open-air chapel. This ruin was not nearly as well preserved as others we’ve seen and we could visibly see how vegetation can destroy structures, especially those constructed around 300 BC. While the Yucatan is flat with little visible water, there are thousands of sinkholes that open to under ground streams. This ruin had a very nice fresh water pond and it is easy to see why the Mayan’s selected this site for a city. Had we brought along our suits, we could have chosen to swim in this very tepid water. It is thought to have purification qualities so now I have pure feet. There were lily pads on the water surface and little fishes all through out the water. The museum connected to this ruin was exquisite and showed many artifacts of the Spanish conquistadors, as well as clothing articles and handicrafts from each area.

We traveled along the road further to Progresso, where we dined right on the beach with our feet in the sand, overlooking the mile long pier that cruise Ships use when they dock. We were lucky to have no cruise ships in port. . Small waves lapped at our feet and we fought off the vendors who had very good prices on their stuff. Others in our camp had Sandy cut or color their hair. Annette had a manicure and a pedicure. Some went ½ way back to our last place to see another set of ruins. Everyone had an enjoyable day.

A group dinner was held at La Parilla, a Mexican buffet with a Mayan flavor. The flavors of the items I chose were wonderful as was the company. We watched in fascination as the waiters made Mexican Coffee. It is quite a production. I’m not sure the flames will show up in my photos but they were hot and quite a deal!!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 89 Low 69 Humidity 96%
GPS Coordinates: N 12 02.494 W 89 37.821

February 9, 2008

Piste, Chichen-Itza

Today we traveled to the touristy spot of Piste a small village near the ruins of Chichen –Itza, which are some of the most visited in the world. We had good roads and passed through very quaint villages. The plan was to drive the village and park all of us in the city ball field. At last night’s trip briefing we discussed how we might be able to circle the wagons and park nose to tail so we could all run generators.

Well even the best laid plans, call for some flexibility in Mexico. When we arrived the ballpark had rocks across the driveway, as they were having a ballgame in there both today and tomorrow. The wagon masters came on the CB and said find a spot to pull over. I had visions of having to sleep alongside the road tonight. Within a short time Plan B had been devised and we were directed on to a small grassy RV park that was VERY tight to get our 21 rigs into. To keep our group together we parked in aisles, driveways and every which ways with but inches to spare on mirrors in parking. Thankfully, the park is associated with a hotel that has a lovely pool. We were invited us in for refreshment from the heat and humidity. We had synchronized swimming, water aerobics; toss each other in the pool and noodle floating sessions. Fern brought out his boom box and we even had Country 2 step dancing. Sandy was in heaven! It was a good thing for this bit of relief from the heat as the power has such low voltage that most of us are without any power. We are so close together that it would be dangerous for us to run our generators but we are making the best of it.

At the hotel tonight, run by an American, we had a buffet dinner and the entertainment of the night was a family who performed Mexican Dances to our total delight. Many of our group was invited to participate but they were not as good as the performers but did provide a laugh!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 79.2
Temperatures: High 95 Low 70 Humidity 86% 0.02 inch of rain
GPS Coordinates: N 20 41.58 W 88 34.37

February 10, 2008

Chichen-Itza

Today we toured the ruins of Chichen-Itza. This amazing city has recently been named as one of the 7 man made Wonders of the World so the Mexican government is now taking more care to preserve the ruins. We split into 2 groups for a guided tour. There is so much to say about these ruins. One of the things I noticed first was the perspective of the guide. While in Tajin a few days ago, the very educated guide imparted his information as “fact.” Abel, our guide today, gave us food for thought. He presented theories as speculation on what might have been regarding the rituals and ceremonies of this place. He implied there had been no human sacrifice. He asked, “Why would a civilization so advanced as to be able to construct the amazing qualities of this pyramid have to resort to loss of life?” He suggested the carvings could also reveal their reverence for life by using metaphors! He pointed out the precise geometric qualities of construction of this pyramid and it’s relation to the calendar with the number of steps correlating to days in a year. He pointed out that on the spring and fall equinox days the sunrises right on the god. He demonstrated the outstanding acoustical qualities of the placement of the buildings and clapped while the echo came off sounding like a bird. We oooooooweed and ahhhed. I could not begin to do justice to the names of the places. Do your own google search on Chichen-Itza for the facts. I was in awe all day. There were many vendors with shopping opportunities along the walkways today. I got an early Valentines Day gift from Terry. He was "in" to shopping today.

The afternoon surprised us with a delightful downpour of nearly an inch of rain in 30 minutes, fortunately we were back from lunch and in our rig. At 7 pm in the evening we car-pooled back to the ruins for a nighttime Light and Sound show. We were given headphones with an English translation of the historical version of the ancient civilizations and we told that nearly 2 million people still use the Mayan language so the culture is not lost.

Fifteen of us had a very special opportunity after the light show. I will not give you the details about it but I did giggle in the dark all evening and was told to be quiet! It will be a story to be told in person and I shall share no pictures.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 87 Low 69 Humidity 94% 0.091 inch of rain
GPS Coordinates: N 20 41.58 W 88 34.37

February 11, 2008

Cancun, Meco Loco Trailer Park

Exiting the RV Park this morning was a bit like fitting a rubix cube together. We had to leave in order so that the guy beside you had room to turn around and get out. We actually made it out in a lot less time than it took for all of us to get into the park. We traveled on two toll roads and paid a total of 476 pesos (approximately $47.60) but that expense seemed to keep out all traffic. We are not towing a vehicle so our fees are less than most others on the trip. The good news on this expensive toll was that there was virtually no one else driving it today. We traveled through dense green jungle today and it is so easy to see how ruins could quickly become overgrown by the lush tropics here.

We’ve arrived in Cancun!! Now I may warn you that not all parts of Cancun are the white sandy beaches and lovely hotel scene you might see on the travel brochures. We came through the “local” part of the city for 15 miles today. Lots of narrow roads, traffic, rain filled potholes and cars passing on right. Not many navigators enjoyed this ri

de.

At happy hour we were treated to Margaritas courtesy of Owen, Paula and Sandy. Paula made sure our glasses were never empty. Sherry served delicious sausage, which was made from venison provided by Aaron’s first deer. (Aaron is her grandson) Hi to those reading. As the margaritas flowed, we heard of some laughs had by drivers who failed to follow the directions of their navigator. Seems Art went the wrong way down a ramp and Jerry failed to make a turn as his wife followed in the jeep honking!! All men seem to be the same when it comes to listening to or following directions.

Several of the group adjourned to Flamingos for a delicious dinner. We are stuffed and will get an early night as we have a full day of touring tomorrow.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 127
Temperatures: High 82 Low 68 Humidity 94%
GPS Coordinates: N 21 12.77 W 86 48.22

February 12, 2008

Xcaret 49 miles from Cancun

I had never heard of the place we visited until today. It is called Xcaret ( X’s are pronounced as sh so it sounds like shiscaret. I think. It is an amusement park that I can compare to Disneyland, Wild Animal Park and Monterey Aquarium. We arrived after a 49 mile bus ride and were given maps, coupons for lunch, drinks and discounts on scuba gear. We were told to meet for the dinner show at 5:30. On your mark, get set, HAVE FUN! We played like kids all day. The first thing we did was to figure out how to get a locker, get our clothes changed, pack a wet bag, get a life jacket, get snorkel equipment and get into a river which follows an under ground tunnel for almost a mile. We floated down this large tunnel with about 15 of our closest friends. Or at least they were after all of the pushing and shoving and water banging us into each other and the side. We finally got the hang of just relaxing and letting the slow current carry us around the twists and turns of this tunnel. Occasionally a skylight would appear and we could see the sky above us. We paddled and screamed and posed for the many photo opportunities along the way. At the end we were wet, tired and very hungry so we trotted off to the seafood buffet. It overlooked the part of Cancun you see in the travel magazines. White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, then deep blue waters, Palm trees, balmy breeze and a scrumptious buffet. We went back for seconds, desserts, ordered beers and then we were set for the rest of the day to tour the park. We went off to snorkel, rest under the cabanas, hang in the hammocks and use up the free beer coupons. We saw the bats in caves, big sea turtles in ponds, manarays, rays, leopards, fish, dolphins, parrots, a tapir, and many others but I’m too tired to recall them all. We managed to return our locker keys, change clothes and meet the group for the dinner show at the theatre. The theatre is a huge arena type deal that seats 4,000 people and we had VIP seats that included a 4 course dinner and wine with the show.

The show depicted an historical timeline of the Mexican history through dance and music. The ancient games of Mayans were enacted and we cheered when our side got a goal. We marveled at the feathered costumes of the Mayan dancers. I wanted to boo and hiss as the Spanish soldiers came on the scene (but they were good dancers). The songs and dances went through the history and came into modern time where we saw a rendition of the Mexican hat dance. The Mariachi’s trumpeted and singers sang and the audience clapped. I can’t begin to describe how elaborate the costumes and how precise the dancers. There were hundreds of dancers who thrilled us all evening. It was like a culmination of all that we had learned on our trip so far in a musical format. But alas the day ended and we arrived back at our motorhome at 10:15 pm. I’m writing this late as I don’t want to get behind in my story telling. Tomorrow is another big day in Cancun.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 84 Low 71 Humidity 92% .2 inches of rain during night
GPS Coordinates: N 21 12.77 W 86 48.22

February 13, 2008

Isla Mujeres, an island just off Cancun

The first thing I did this morning was to check out the bathroom her in our trailer park. Now I’ve heard about Mexican bathrooms but this one was really unique that reflects the true meaning of a potted plant.

Today we took a 20-minute ferry ride to a small island, Isla Mujeres, just off Cancun. It reminded me of Catalina for my California friends. It is a laid back island with a few touristy shops, white sand beaches, crashing white waves, a turtle farm and numerous restaurants. We rented a golf cart and shared it with Jack and Shirley all day driving a big loop around the island. The island has very few private cars but the taxi’s are fast and numerous. Shirley and I had more than one thrill watching the driver come up from behind at a very high rate of speed. Terry stopped at several restaurants so we could fill up on beverages. By this time Shirley and I are feeling quite daring and decided to get a tattoo. Yep, she has a seahorse and I have a turtle. We had lunch on the sand while watching the sharks swim in a nearby caged lagoon. Shirley bought a conch shell and tried to call us to order, but the island has a quiet way about her. She is known as the Island of the Woman. Almost all of the women on the trip got t-shirts, which will show up, in photos tomorrow. We owe a thank you to Paulette for being the personal shopper for some.

We returned to dine at the restaurant of 2 nights ago and brought new friends. Mosquitoes nearly drove us out, but Jack got in the car and drove back to his motorhome home to get us some bug spray. We loved our dinner by the sea overlooking the water with a balmy breeze blowing. This is the life! Life is good.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 84 Low 75 Humidity 87%
GPS Coordinates: N 21 12.77 W 86 48.22

February 14. 2008

Xel-Ha Parking Lot

Happy Valentine’s Day

Today our route only had 2 turns but many had concerns, as the mileage in our trip log was way out of whack. Pat and Alice had left an hour ahead of the group to scope out the destination, as Adventure Caravans had never stayed here at this parking lot in Xel-Ha before. Along the way the CB radios informed us that Phoebe and Warren had been pulled over by the Policia. It seems the police thought they ran a red light. The rig following them did not think so. But as the rumor has it, Warren paid the fine, $800 pesos and was “Let free”. We arrived in this parking lot to “dry camp” for 3 days. We are happy as it is on cement pavers with no mud, sand nor dirt. We jumped out of our rigs and went to tour the waters. Terry and I had been here over 20 years ago and we do not recall any of what we saw today. This is now an upscale destination amusement park. We got snorkels, fins and masks and slipped into the warm waters to see the sea life. I saw two stingrays along the bottom, several blue tangs, and a few other fish I could not identify. If my mask had a prescription lenses, I may have been able to see more but even when I spit into my mask many times and it was still a blur. I did enjoy it but my memories of Xel- ha snorkeling were better than what I saw today.

As everything was included, I had lunch, 4 margaritas and dessert. Then we went on the River trip. We boarded a train to the ”end of the line” and got inner tubes where we floated down the river back to the lagoon. Float is not a good word as I thought we had to kick and paddle all the way. I was exhausted.

Upon return we ordered more margaritas, Terry went to the hammocks to rest and I found new friends who enjoyed the outfit of the day. Many of the girls had a new uniform, which got either whistles or mostly laughs. When we returned to our rigs in the evening we sat around and Trish passed out glow sticks for us to twirl to celebrate Valentines Day. We told the secrets of the day. This place is very ecological friendly and we are not allowed to poop, party or pee. But as truth be told, a bird pooped on Eileen (splashed on Shirley) the whole group partied tonight and Sherry admitted that she did pee in the water today. No one else admitted such a deal!

We have an early call in the morning so I shall call it a night.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 75 but “the book” said 122
Temperatures: High 84 Low 78 Humidity 80%
GPS Coordinates: N 20 32201 W 87 36016

February 15 2008

Tulum Xel-Ha Parking Lot

Today we got to be the first ones into the Ruins of Tulum. This is good because we beat the tour bus groups and the heat of the day. Some 22 years ago Terry and I visited Club Med and made a side trip to these ruins. Our expectations were high. The Ruins are impressive but the place has gone completely commercial. You can’t climb on the ruins and there are grassy areas with landscaping and it is a definite tourist attraction and because we have seen so many ruins and listened to so many tour guides we felt as if we had “been there and done that.” However in our guided tour today we did learn to tell the difference between a male and female iguana. Do you know?

Answer: The males have spines on their backs and the females do not. Lots of the creatures roamed the ground’s blending into the scenery whenever they can. These ruins are right along the beach so the setting is beautiful. After our ruin tour we set our to find white sands and found a restaurant on the beach for lunch. I love it when you can put you toes into the moist sand while having lunch. Some in the group went swimming in the balmy waters and Sandy had her hair done in cornrows.

We returned to our parking lot RV Park and rested. This touring is very tiring! Of course the humidity, heat and beverages are contributing to the fatigue. It was my turn to provide Happy hour snacks this afternoon. As has been the tradition on this caravan, we (3 people) sign up for a day when we bring goodies to the group. This tradition would have my Weight Watcher leader in shock, as healthy snacks are not available. Guacamole, chips, meatballs, cheese, crackers and dip are the norm. The laughs during Happy Hour tonight included the group photo of “the Girls” in their uniform. Tour busses drove by and we flashed them with our outfits. I do not believe you could ever have this much fun traveling on your own. It just might take a caravan to get this much energy and creativity and laughs together! Warren got the Goofy award, not for his traffic ticket of yesterday but for arguing with the Policia about it. He is a riot.

The schedule for tomorrow is to take a ferry ride to Cozumel but Terry and I may stay back and take another day on the beach. I am shopped out and I want to sleep in for a day.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 85 Low 77 Humidity 82%
GPS Coordinates: N 20 32201 W 87 36016

February 16, 2008

El Pariaso Beach Club
Xel-Ha Parking Lot

Today at 7:15 am while we were sleeping, most of our group left to drive the 20 miles to board the Ferry to Cozumel, an Island off Cancun. We chose to skip this trip, as we wanted to sleep in, rest and shopping was not high on our list today. Around 10:30 we trekked back to yesterdays beach with several of our group. I felt like those who might live the lifestyles of the rich and famous. When we arrived Walter had already reserved 3 palapas and 6 mattresses on the beach. We rented enough lounge chairs to accommodate the 10 of us. It was only $10 dollars US per couple to reserve our spot, furniture and Alberro, our waiter for the day. He set up a table right on the beach for our lunch and provided us with menus. We swam in the crystal clear turquoise waters before lunch, but we did manage to have margaritas before and after our swim. Since we had dined here yesterday we knew just what to order and I had the chicken Caesar salad. Eileen had the coconut mango shrimp to the tune of $25 US dollars. (Remember how I said the RICH and famous eat here?) No matter… everything was perfect today. The white sand beach, the breeze, the sun, the water, the company were the best. It was my favorite day of the whole trip. It also ranked in the top of all of the days of my life. I had a massage right there on the beach. Some of the photos Terry took of my massage left a bit more exposed than I would ever post so you will just have to imagine the rest. The beach is the white powdered sugar kind of sand, the water looked just like the travel brochures. We saw topless sunbathers but we were not among those getting that much exposure! We did go out into the water every time we dried off and wanted to “check the prop.” We stayed until the sun went behind the clouds and then reality hit as we had to go to the grocery store on the way home. After dinner we had another ice cream social and a trip briefing. Life is very good.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 84 Low 77 Humidity 82%
GPS Coordinates: N 20 32201 W 87 36016

Feb 17, 2008

Chetumal (Yax-Ha)

Today was a sad day for 2 reasons.
1. To leave our neat clean parking lot with nearby “to die for beaches!”
2. We had to leave Ted and Anne (Number 12) behind due to mechanical problems on their motorhome. It is Sunday and no place is open to repair their alternator for the second time. So they got another day to enjoy the beach and will hopefully catch up when they get a repair. Hex, the tail gunner stayed behind to assist and to make sure they get to meet up with us again safely.

We drove through thick jungle today on very narrow roads. We passed through quaint villages and on our 20-minute lunch break, Terry, Less and Cathy and good old Fern found a local restaurant to get tacos. I had a PBJ sandwich in the rig. We hit a variety of severe topes today. They certainly are effective in slowing traffic in small towns. Warren gave Mike a heads up when the Policia followed him through a small town. Recall he is the one and only recipient of a traffic ticket on any caravan led by Pat and Alice.

We arrived at our beautiful seaside RV Park and were delighted by the beautiful pool, balmy breezes and yet another Happy Happy Hour. It was the guy’s turn to delight the ladies with the shirts they had found in Cozumel yesterday. NOT every guy was game for the fashion show but those who did, wore them well, don’t you think? We did have a good laugh again. The Chicken Award is presented to a couple for Loving Acts toward one another. Tonight Barb presented it to Sherry and Bill, I don’t know why. The chicken is now in fashion and dons an outfit like the girls. Bruce wrote this poem to go with it.

To This chicken we will send, a bathing suit that meets the trend.
As a mother she did say, dress me or you will pay.
My little baby needs one too, he would like to look like you.

A new award was passed on tonight from Fern, (who appears to be losing his battle to give up drinking.) to Terry (who does not drink at all) The Camping crystal has a broken bottom so you can never set your drink down. Terry chugged his glass full of apple juice (I hope) and now must look for a recipient tomorrow to carry on the beverage trend. The margarita I ordered at dinner tonight was the WORST one I’ve ever had. Neither Shirley nor I could finish them. Terry says that it is something when we don’t chug our margaritas.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 168
Temperatures: High 82 Low 74 Humidity 82% .02 inches of rain as I had my towel out to dry overnight.
GPS Coordinates: N 18 33.676 W 88 14.913

Feb 18, 2008

Chetumal (Yax-Ha) Free Day

Today was a rare free day with no specific activities planned. We are having a potluck tonight so the major projects included grocery shopping, swimming, reading, haircuts (thank you Sandy again) What a thrill it is to have a day with no agenda. I’m not complaining but this touring is tiring! We got rested today. The wind off the sea is refreshing but it does bring humidity. Our towels don’t dry and if things are kept in small places they begin to smell musty. My big news of the day is that I defrosted the refrigerator and expelled things whose shelf life had expired! I know I need to get a life! I will try tonight to get photos of our fellow caravaners who have friends following on the forum and miss them. We want those of you reading the RVForum to visit often, as it is a wealth of RV or travel information. Some of you lurking may want to know that we love caravans in Mexico. If you have a hankering for adventure “Just do it” (As Nike says) however if you are fussy, need 50 amp service and perfections, Mexico is NOT the place for you.

After a wonderful potluck tonight we heard on the CB that Hex, Sandy, Ted and Anne were within 5 miles. We got our flashlights and glow sticks and wandered into the street to welcome them into our Park. We resurrected the potluck with the left overs so they could eat and enjoyed hearing their tales of the success of getting Ted’s RV fixed, some many dollars and peso’s later.

Terry held a ½ waypoint slide show of the photos he has been taking of our group from Pharr for the 9 hearty souls who could stay up past 7:30 pm. We had lots of laughs.

I failed to mention that Terry and I almost won the Triple Crown of Awards tonight. We “Earned” two of the three awards. Walter gave us “ Care bear” because we have been so diligent with our RV Forum posts. Sherry and Bill gave us “The Chicken” for a reason that escapes us but we graciously accepted as the chicken has now been embellished with a nursing baby, along with the bikini and a cape. The poem that went with the award goes like this:

Barb made some swim wear
Bruce made a poem,
Everything there was greater than Fair.
Because that was quite a home.

Now we’re with Bill and Sherry
And though we thought it would be dim,
A cover up was needed to make us merry
To follow a cooling swim.

So now to a new home we go,
I hope the feeling is there
I’ll put on quite a show to find a loving pair. (Did I tell you I could see into his bedroom coach window all night?)

So from the coach of Bill and Sherry
I’ll go to Betty and Terry

Terry presented Shirley with an award because the margarita she ordered at dinner last night was ”undrinkable’” and he thought that deserved a medal. Well needless to say this lack of news day had quite a bit of fun. Join a caravan to travel in merriment.

Statistics: Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 83 Low 79 Humidity 84%
GPS Coordinates: N 18 33.676 W 88 14.913

Feb 19, 2008

Chetumal (Yax-Ha) Touring

This morning we met as a group and car-pooled to the finest Museum in Mexico on the Mayan Culture and ruins. It has been recently remodeled but unfortunately it did not include air conditioning and with today’s humidity many of the women (me) had “hot flashes” while inside. I wandered thorough the museum and rushed for the air-conditioned gift shop to recover. Terry took photos in the museum. Some of the video displays explained the Mayan alphabet complete with 700 symbols. It is phonetic and reads left to right but bottom to top. The Mayans used leather for pages in books. I thought it was hard to teach 26 alphabet letters to kids. Can you imagine 700? Following our Museum experience Terry navigated and Jack drove through the town to the Malacon ( Sea front) . We love to follow the beaches. We drove on strangely vacant streets. I mean NO CARS at all for several miles. Finally we entered a zone with habitation and checked out restaurant menus. Terry got a hot meal, his first in Mexico. We enjoyed the waterfront and the windy breezes seemed to cool the humidity. The area was hard hit with the hurricanes in October and many trees are still angled and fallen. Villagers are repairing thatched roofs all over. I recall when our news at home warned that Cancun was to be hit by a big hurricane. Well it missed Cancun but it did hit here!

Following lunch we ventured out to follow the tourist signs to yet another ruin. While Shirley and I are sweating and tired we were game to visit this place, which had only 4 tourists visit all day evidenced by the sign in. It was in an over grown jungle with a good path. Shirley shrieked as she saw the jungle floor move. Leaf ants were transporting leaf sections some 50 feet across our path and up onto another tree. It was a moving phenomenon. We could really see evidence of the hurricanes in this jungle. Downed trees blocked many of the paths and signs were mangled. We came across several Brahma cows feeding and took pictures like crazy. We are pure tourists! Upon return to the RV Park, we packed up everything to move so we could dump. There is only 1 dump here and with so many of us leaving early in 2 days, we chose to dump today to avoid the rush. Then we swam in the refreshing pool. After a magnificent happy hour that included grilled zucchini by Hex and Sandy, our guide for the Belize trip spoke to us about what to expect on tomorrows big day, a visit to yet another country, Belize. Trivia question: Do you know what Belize used to be called? ANSWER: When I studied Central America in the 6th grade it was called British Honduras. The name changed in the early 70’s. More to come.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 86 Low 77 Humidity 90%
GPS Coordinates: N 18 33.676 W 88 14.913

Feb 20, 2008

Belize

Today we visited another country. BELIZE. It was wonderful and I learned so much!

However, I am going to do the first thing I’ve done on my journal so far…postpone the details of the day for a separate posting. There is so much to share, that I want to spend a bit more time than I have energy to complete tonight. It is 10:10 pm and I have had a van ride, cleared immigration, took another van ride, then a 60 mile boat ride, climbed a ruin, shopped in 3 souvenir stores, purchased booze, purchased groceries, cleared customs and immigration back into Mexico, held a margarita costume party, watched a total eclipse of the moon start to finish and made scrambled eggs and tortillas for dinner and am now getting ready for our 305 mile day tomorrow.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 83 Low 78 Humidity 84%
GPS Coordinates: N 18 33.676 W 88 14.913

Feb 21, 2008

Palenque (Nututun Hotel)

Today was a long travel day. Somehow Terry and I managed to travel “alone” today missing the caravan CB communication. It was our choice to not take the first break and move on. Terry has a good bladder so stops are not his priority and I can get up in the rig to use the facilities when I need. I navigated, followed the book and enjoyed the changes of scenery. We had some new good roads (some with guard rails) and then bad roads and numerous topes all day. Later we learned Owen and Paula “lost” their VW tow vehicle due to a tope and Sandy ended up driving it the rest of the day. The tope was a big one but the good news is that when they lost the vehicle it rolled into a field of tall grass and did not cause any damage nor harm to anyone else. I think they have a guardian angel. Now they look for a welder.

Our trip took us out of the jungle terrain up into pastures and finally into mountainous terrain. At times the road looked like a green tunnel with branches growing up and over the top of us. At one point a new highway was being constructed with heavy equipment, which is rare to see in Mexico. A bulldozer was clearing the terrain and smashing trees along the road. One of the trees he hit landed right across the highway blocking all lanes in front of us. Fortunately, of the 10 Mexicans working to clear the road, one of them had a chain saw so the clearing only took 25 minutes with the assistance of some very sharp machetes too. We passed into and out of the state of Campeche and were not stopped at any of the agricultural nor military checkpoints. We saw a butcher shop and did not stop to purchase any of the fine aging beef. The photo is not clear, as there was smoke in the air.

We learned that Walter had wheel damage (most likely caused by the topes) and had to stop to put on his spare. He is looking for a tire shop. When we arrived at this hotel (it is not an RV Park) we parked in their parking lot. It is tropical, pretty and overgrown with trees. Adventure Caravan purchased two hotel rooms so we can shower, change clothes and use the room for pool purposes, as we are dry camping for the next 3 days. Our first parking place did not allow us Internet connections, so happily Pat moved us into the line of sight with the sky. We are happy campers to be able to connect with all of you.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 309
Temperatures: High 92 Low 78 Humidity 85%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 29.045 W 91 58.456

Feb 22, 2008

Palenque Ruins

We have seen many Mayan Ruins on this trip and in my opinion, today we saw the BEST. The others have included ceremonial places but the ruins at Palenque include the entire Kingdom. We had Francisco as our guide who was fluent English speaking, having learned English from his mother who grew up in Los Angeles. I had my little tablet and took notes on the interesting facts I learned today. I’ll try to transcribe them as college notes. I may not get the details correct so I welcome any archeologists, historians or fellow caravaners to challenge the facts as presented. It may be a long post as I was completely enthralled with these ruins. Palenque is the first place I can say I would love to return (except for the beaches)

When we boarded the bus the guide asked us if we spoke Spanish, Most of us said NO. He asked if we could say cervesa and when we replied cervesa, he informed us that we could indeed speak Spanish.

The ruins of Palenque are nestled in the mountains and were discovered in 1773. Only 2% of them have been uncovered from the dense jungle growth. This area gets 180 inches of rainfall a year and has very high humidity so growth of the jungle is rapid. It is estimated that it would take 50 years to uncover one temple and LOTS of money. It is also estimated that without constant “gardening” the jungle would completely consume this area in 10 years. Every 10 to 15 days moss is cleared from the structures by hand to avoid damaging them. The University of California at San Francisco sent aerial topographers with sonar and estimated there are an additional 1453 structures yet to be uncovered in this region. The Mayan civilization we observed today is estimated to have flourished from 100 BC to 900 AD, which is the Classical Period. For 1,000 years the Mayans slashed and burned the jungle to raise corn. They cleared the forests of wood to burn in combination with limestone to use for plaster and stucco. (I’m no chemist so I just accept what I am told on this building material thing.) It is speculated that droughts caused by deforestation resulted in their downfall. The Mayans created a very accurate calendar, which seemed to be accurate to the day for 6,000 years. The calendar year begins in August and I bought a souvenir, a clay necklace representing the month and day of my birth. 8/23. They are the civilization that first utilized the concept of zero in the numbering and accounting systems. They used only 3 symbols for their numbering system. The Mayan cities were independent of one another and seemed to have fought against each other and some alliances were formed from city to city. This is evidenced in that Jade is not found naturally here but the tombs were filled with Jade artifacts. Guatemala was thought to have been a trade partner. (Will any of this make sense in the essay I will need to write for my final exam?) The hieroglyphics were phonetic and translation reveals that 30 % of them give dates of the event it describes. The Temple of Inscriptions is the tallest and is also called the Temple of Laws. (We were not allowed to climb up there.) In 1994 a tomb was discovered of a woman. She is thought to have been the wife or mother of Pakal, the ruler of the regime for 68 years. He became king at the age of 12 and ruled until he died at age 80. Not many lived that long so he must have had the easy life. The tombs were painted with a red toxic paint to deter looters and when the paint of the tomb fell, it painted the bones red. The Mayans believed they were made from corn and the colors they used to “decorate” were from the 4 species of corn. Red represented East, Black represented West, White was North and South was yellow.

The Temple of Inscriptions has 9 levels representing life now, underground or evil life and the heavens or life after here. (ok now my college notes are getting a bit fuzzy) The Mayans were into blood letting for the hallucinogenic effect it might have. They also fermented corn and fruits to make alcohol. The Noble women pierced their tongues and let the spilled blood be used to make grounds fertile, Nobel men pierced their penis to use their blood for the same fertilizer. Now who wants to be noble?

The Mayans were not a race of people but a Religion practiced. Today was the first we heard this and we still have a question in our minds about this information. There are more than 15,000 Mayan sites in Central America. I promise not take notepaper to my next tour. The humidity was HIGH. Within the Museum, we visited the tomb of Pakal. It was very air conditioned inside. We wanted to stay longer. Enough already. (Ardra I know you are still reading, thank you.) Oh heck, just Google Mayan Race for details. I love being a tourist.

Jack and Shirley drove us downtown for an ATM run and lunch in the city. We are so full we cancelled dinner plans and I am doing my homework….this log.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 95 Low 70 Humidity 93%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 29.045 W 91 58.456

Feb 20, 2008

Belize, Part 2 the details

It is now a couple of days later and I have time to collect my thoughts on our wonderful visit to yet another country in Central America, Belize. In the 1970’s British Honduras changed their name to Belize due to confusion with the mail having Honduras, as another country in the region. On September 21, 1981, Belize was given their independence from England. So Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America. When we crossed into the border I felt literate again. I could read the signs, the money is 2 to 1, so all I had to do was divide the price of what I wanted in ½ and I knew what it cost. Fortunately they let us use US Dollars in the places we visited in our day. The entire trip was an experience. We had to clear immigration and import customs to get into Belize. We are fortunate to have had guides handle the details for us but we did have to stand in the lines and present our passports for stamping. When we boarded the van again Terry commented on the Toyota, Hilec, which had a stick shift with a diesel engine and was very comfortable for 10 of us. This vehicle is only available in third world countries. No emissions standards etc… Our driver gave us information as we drove down the road. Disclaimer: No reliability on my memory of details.

In the early 70’s Guatemala tried to invade Belize and Margaret Thatcher had Harrier jets fly over fly over and the invading troops split. However it is notable that Belize was the only country in Central America to gain their independence without any blood shed. The Belize dollar still has the Queen on it. Belize is a small country with a population of only 275,000 representing over a dozen cultures. The Chinese have established numerous businesses. There are many Mennonites in Belize who raise 50% of the beans and rice, which are staples of the Belize diet. Mennonites are not allowed to export any of their products due to their tax advantages. Sugar Cane is the second largest economic benefit to the country because 5 years ago Tourism passed it as the biggest. So we cheered that we are Number 1. We are the Tourist. Belize has much to offer and I would return here in a minute!

We boarded boats to traverse the New River to our destination of the Lamanai Ruins. I felt like we were in a James Bond movie as our boat drivers drove very fast around the twists and bends of the river and the breeze blew our hair doos out the window. We were hanging onto our hats. This river is in a thick jungle and we could see the vines Tarzan might have swung from. We observed many, many kinds of birds, noted several species of flowers and plants. My favorite plant was a snake cactus, which wraps itself around a tree and gets it’s nutrients from the air. It is a twisty kind of cactus. (On the way home we saw a fresh water crocodile.) When we docked, we had lunch of a typical Belizean diet; beans, rice, chicken, potato salad and fried banana. Then we set out to tour the Lamanai Ruins. On the way, we saw Howler monkeys in the trees right over our heads. Whoo hoo what a treat! Upon arrival to the Temple, many climbed to the top of the big temple that is the highest spot in Northern Belize. I sat at the bottom and cheered on the climbers. I was impressed with the number who could manage such big deep steps. In fact I presented the Chicken Award to John and Marilyn Long because they did the entire climb, hand in hand. I also noted Connie who was fulfilling life long goals of climbing pyramids, despite her fear of heights. Fern froze on his way up but did manage the climb. The humidity is over 90% and I am HOT just sitting. We made a gift shop run and Terry got a T-shirt with a Toucan, the State bird of Belize. I purchased a necklace that matched a dress I bought in Veracruz. We stopped at a Chinese owned grocery store on the way home and I bought rum, which was only $13 US. I also purchase salad crème, which was the base for our potato salad lunch and Mary Sharp hot sauce for Terry. Never mind that I do not drink rum, it was a bargain. We had to unload from the vans and go through the reverse process to get back into Mexico. I am so grateful to live in the USA where travel between states is so easy.

When new arrived back in the Chetamul RV Park, those caravaners who had stayed behind welcomed us with a party of hors d’ourves and the men were in costume???? The margaritas were a thank you provided by Ted and Anne for assisting with their alternator problems and putting up with their generator for days. We are international travelers.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 83 Low 78 Humidity 84%
GPS Coordinates: N 18 33.676 W 88 14.913

Feb 23, 2008

Palenque (Nututun Hotel) FUN DAY

Today we caught a big tour bus and were driven up through winding mountain roads and were able to enjoy the jungle scenery in the mountains with our very competent bus driver. Pat and Alice reserved the front seats for those of us who have any tendency to get carsick and I was glad to take the front seat. The scenery of these mountains is so surreal to me. It is unusual for me to see date palms and banana trees right in mountainous terrain. We also saw corn growing on the side of mountains, obviously planted by hand and will be harvested by hand on those steep hillsides. Our first destination was Misol-Ha, a waterfall spot where we were able to enjoy a hike through the humidity to behind the falls. Several hiked on up the mountain and reported seeing bat caves. I did not. The humidity of this place has me exhausted and I was not feeling well enough to be adventuresome today.

We moved on to Aqua Azul many more miles up twisty winding and narrow mountain roads, quite unsuitable for RV’s but our bus did just fine with someone else driving! WE had planned a picnic lunch and I made tuna salad sandwiches but Terry was disappointed when he saw the slew of Taco restaurants where he could have had lunch. The minute we got off the bus, local children of the area swarmed us like locusts and tried to sell us bananas, limons, popcorn and lots of other things. The falls at the new destination emptied into beautiful lagoons after falling off limestone rocks. I got brave enough to swim in a few of them. The cool waters were a welcome relief from the humidity. We frolicked in the pools all afternoon and then the shopping group joined us. Shirley bought a beautiful pink shoulder bag but within minutes the humidity has her nice white shirt sort of tie dyed with the faded color of her new purse. Annette’s new headband, gave her a blue tattoo on her forehead from the fading. Thank goodness I did not feel like shopping today. We went home in wet bathing suits down the same twisty winding road but many slept.

At the afternoon trip briefing Shirley was awarded Goofy for her pink shirt but when Mr. Green gave it to her, he knocked over her wine glass shattering it, so he kept Goofy, as he should. Annette earned the bottomless glass as someone counted 15 limes in her margarita glass, one for each margarita she consumed yesterday. Fern got Care bear because he told people where to go…or something like that.

Terry and I adjourned to the Hotel restaurant where we were joined by Paula and Owen for a lovely dinner. Terry ordered Banana flambé and it was a “show” but he thinks he may not be able to drive tomorrow for the amount of alcohol in it!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 93 Low 73 Humidity 91%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 29.045 W 91 58.456

Feb 24, 2008

Villahermosa, the second time, “the field” El Gordo Y Poncho RV Park

We left the Hotel Parking lot this morning after a pretty orderly line up of RV’s headed for the one and only dump station at the exit of the Hotel Parking lot. It was a surprise, as we had not counted on any dump facilities at all. Terry and I slept in as were advised that our travel from here on out will involve some long days and we’ll get going early. It was supposed to be an easy travel day as it was Sunday but we have concluded that that Sundays include as many or more truck (18 wheelers) as any other day. Maybe even more as our expectations were for fewer! Once again I mention that there are not many RV Parks in the area. The only RV’s we see driving along the road are in our caravan. So it’s easy to see how a park could not survive with so little business. Along the drive we noticed the modes of transportation and that the local butcher shop was open. I did not buy any beef.

The narrow road into Villahermosa was familiar as we were in this park on January 30. It seems like so long ago. When we here last time, we enjoyed their beautiful public pool. Today every Mexican in this city of 100,000 is here. There is literally NO room to get into the pool as it is filled with so many children. Most of us opted to skip this pool today (can you imagine the PH count with so many kids) and relax in our rigs with the generators running the Air Conditioning full blast. I am becoming weary of the humidity. Jack and Shirley transported me to Wal-Mart and I bought a broasted chicken and lots more bottled water. Oh the small familiar things of which I have become so grateful! It will be a normal meal tonight. We have a trip briefing at 4 and a long travel day through mountains tomorrow.

Since it is a slow news day I will share with you a bit of trivia from our last 305-mile drive. The question was posed, how many Topes do you think we crossed today? We took guesses and wished we had kept better track when the prize was to be a bottle of Tequila. I guessed 72. It turns out the answer was 98 and won by Terri G who does not even drink! However, the prize was only an airlines size bottle. We had a chuckle. Those topes are VERY effective in keeping down speed in the zones they put them. It is considerably better than radar or SLOW signs. Of course the alignment, tire and muffler shops all benefit from the use of the topes too. Due to topes, our caravan has lost a tow car, a microwave, a light fixture, two tires and those are only the confessed items. There may have been more. These roads are very hard. Our new Davis TV is fine.

Ok the news of the day picked up. When I returned from my Wal-Mart run and hollered in for Terry to help with groceries, he did not answer. I did not realize it but he was sound asleep in our rig. When he awakened he told me his arms were on fire and itching. He was sure that he had brushed against some of the bushes when hooking up the electric (which is too high a voltage to work anyway) I asked if he wanted a cool paper towel, ice, or water or anything and he just wanted to be left alone. He was in pain and miserable. I did a google search on nettles and the symptoms did not seem to fit exactly. I went to the trip briefing but took with me the new big can of spray mosquito killer we bought 2 days ago. Thankfully Walter can translate Spanish for us and the new can (with 20% free) was actually a spray insecticide for aerial spraying. It clearly stated (in Spanish) do not get on skin and see a Doctor if exposed. Back up a few bytes of information. Terry has had malaria two times (a casualty of Viet Nam) and Dengue Fever (also a mosquito born disease,) so he is somewhat, no VERY obsessive about not getting any mosquito bites. We had been here in Villahermosa on January 30 when we got lots of bug bites so we were prepared this time to not be bitten. His legs got a dose of the OFF I had on hand, and then I sprayed his arms and hands with his new stuff. So much for our attempt. At the briefing Shirley knew that I had sprayed my husband with “ Raid” and as it was her turn to award Goofy, I got it. Terry was not in attendance. He is doing fine after using lots of our water. Moral of story buy lots of your own stuff before coming to Mexico.

Mr. Green, (Who broke Shirley’s wine glass yesterday) had a lovely replacement in a pink bag for ceremonies tonight. This group knows how to take care of one another!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 98.8
Temperatures: High 93 Low 72 Humidity 95%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 58.798 W 93 02.764

Feb 25 2008

Tehuantepec Santa Teresa Trailer Park

Hex helped us out of the RV Field in his usual way this morning. The first 130 miles of today’s drive were a repeat of the road we took into Villahermosa but it is amazing how different things look going the other direction. There were a few tricky turns, veers and tollbooths today but we managed. When we were within 20 miles of the RV Park, a Green Angel intercepted the Caravan and led us into the Park. Good thing too as none of us would have ventured down the narrow dirt road without some assurance that it was correct. The area reminded me almost identical to the Palm Springs Indio area. We have Palm trees, mountains in the background and we are under a grove of Mango trees. The RV Park is really just a lovely area under trees with no hookups but we gathered with the news of our day’s drives which included many pothole, topes, bumpy roads and village after village. We crossed mountains as we head west across Mexico toward the Pacific Coast. The terrain changed from lush jungle to much more dry agricultural climate. Corn grows all around us. Note how the humidity dropped. It is still warm but feels more normal to me. The day did have some mishaps. Walter missed our turn and ran his fifth wheel under low branches damaging his roof. But guys were on top with goop “fixing” what they could ASAP. Hex and Sandy arrived with the back of their tow car window smashed. It is unknown exactly how it happened. I heard Bob T. saying something about his transmission. Ann was nursing her badly swollen arm from a bite sustained last night. Many of us were itching from that lovely spot in Villahermosa where I likely will never return.

As we waited for our dinner, we were delighted to be given a ride in an ox cart as a local farmer fulfilled our request for a ride. Riding in an ox cart is much harder than it looks. We observed a local family gathering tamarind berries from the ground. They taste a bit like a sour dried apricot. His family was gathering them for sale in Oaxaca, our destination tomorrow and gave me permission for photos. Following our outdoor dinner, the owner’s family friends treated us to a fashion show. He described the traditions of his village and what each dress means. Then he had two on our caravan participate in a wedding ceremony. Mike and Eileen were good sports as we threw confetti at them and smashed clay pots on a rock to drive out evil. This was after we filled their pots with pesos. Women rule. We danced around them and congratulated their sportsmanship. This little village looks like it has much to offer but alas we move on in the morning to Oaxaca.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 267
Temperatures: High 97 Low 72 Humidity 65%
GPS Coordinates: N 16 22.04 W 95 14.57

Feb 26, 2008

Oaxaca (Pronounced Wa ha’ ka)

We rolled out at dawn’s early light and Terry captured the sunrise to prove he can indeed get up early. He hiked up to the sign that we were to have used, yesterday as a landmark to identify this park. It must have been painted a few years ago. The trip looked so familiar to many mountains drives you might do in the western Sonoran desert. We saw Cordone cactus, flowering trees and a much dryer climate. We passed steep hillsides planted clear to the top with Agaves. Mescal is the generic name for Tequila produced outside the State of Jallisco. We stopped and sampled some of the best but as it was $40 a bottle both Shirley and I declined such a luxury! Terry found a small taco shop along the road and we sampled their tacos. I even got to pet the family rabbit.

The major news story of today is about a couple I have not mentioned much before this, but they continue to win my personal ”most inspiring couple Award.” Les and Cathy Corney are from North Carolina. When they pulled into Pharr, Texas, the first thing Les did was jump out of his rig and begin to wash it. Cathy set up chairs for an evening outside their rig. Fellow travelers and friends Jim and Sue, Barb and Bruce also known as # 4 and # 19 accompanied them. Cathy is a breast cancer survivor. Les had a stroke 10 years ago that left his right side completely paralyzed. He wears a foot brace to handle a dropped foot. They travel with a tow car, Les’ scooter and his cane. Cathy had both knees replaced last April (only 10 months ago). Despite Les’ disability he gets right in there to participate any place his scooter will scoot. Cathy does not climb pyramids but she takes pictures and takes great care of Les. Never once have they complained about any of the caravan hardships, nor asked for special privileges. Today in the most winding, climbing and narrow of roads we heard Cathy’s voice on the CB, “This is number 9 to number 2, my check engine light has come on.” One can identify immediately, concern in a stressed voice. Hex is the tail gunner and is number 2. His job is to look after mechanical problems and wait with those who have problems. He told her to find a safe place to pull over. Within a few seconds, she said, “The light went out.” Walter, number 11, was following her and informed her that black smoke was coming out the tailpipe was this normal? “ Cathy reported losing power. By now we are out of CB range but praying all would be well with them. Hex changed out a fuel filter for them. Sandy, Hex’ sweetie, drove the tow car to lighten the load. It seemed to help for a while so they hooked up again and then the problem occurred again. We cheered when they limped into town and will follow up with engine trouble shooting tomorrow. How many couples do you know who would even venture out into the RV world with their issues let alone deep into Mexico? They are doing fine and my hat’s off to them!

Many of us stood around tonight at the RV park and discussed the conversations in our rigs on the twisty mountain roads. The staff missed the park entrance and spent sometime finding themselves. It is all good for a laugh AFTER IT IS OVER. The weather is beautiful. My laundry has been sent out (2 bags full) and life is good.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 154.9 Started at 300 feet above sea level and climbed to 6204 feet
Temperatures: High 92 Low 72 Humidity 35%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 03.175 W 96 37.876

Feb 27, 2008

Oaxaca Day 2

We slept well last night as it was cool and awoke to temperatures in the high 40’s. It felt good to put on warmer clothes as most of what we own is in the laundry anyway. The humidity is normal for us and that fact put all of us in a better mood. Eugene is our guide for the next 5 days. His English is very good and he aims to please us. There is a little restaurant next door to this RV Park and we can tell the guy at the table out front of our rig and he will call in our order and have it delivered to our rig. Most of us want to get out of our rigs so we walk the short distance to the restaurant. This is what Terry and I did last night for dinner. The ONE margarita I ordered was delicious but must have been made with smooth tasting Mescal because I could not complete my journal last night after dinner! So I am up early this morning with your news.

The first thing this morning we boarded a bus to tour the ruins of Monte Alban. They are similar to most other ruins except that they are perched atop a mountain, which had to be leveled off to make this large complex. It’s estimated it took 300 years to level this site. We visited a very extensive, lovely museum with artifacts and examples of burial crypts and carvings. I ran into a school group of kids. I learned they were 5th graders ,30 to a class and of course the boys were running ahead out of control. The teacher was speaking to them in Spanish so I did not know what she was saying but the tone of a reprimand is similar in any language. I got a few photos of the kids and then wanted their names so I have many autographs now. I had my little notebook with me so I was able to take extensive notes. I may not have time to complete this before the bus runs so I may have details in a part 2 if you don’t mind.

The biggest deal for me on these ruins is that it was finally cool enough for me to climb up one of the temples. The view atop was spectacular of the valley below. We are at 5125 feet and I did feel the altitude in the climb but I did fine and was proud of my self for accomplishing this. It was very good quad exercise! We purchased homemade ice cream from the local vendor and headed back to RV Park for lunch on our own. At 2:30 we were transported out to the Wool Weaving Villages where an excellent demonstration of the process was presented. I now understand how much labor goes into weaving the rugs. We learned how the various colors are produced, how the wool is grown, how the wool is carded by hand and spun into yarn. We saw the design process. Then we were shown the finished product. Eugene said those rugs made here at “THE bug in a Rug” are the best quality and I concur. I saw “the One” I wanted immediately and Isaac the son of the Master weaver had just gotten it “hot off the press” as he said. It is not quite finished so they will bring it to my RV tomorrow where I can write out a personal check. How’s that for service? News on Les and Cathy's coach is the problem is thought to be a fuel pump and they have ordered a new one.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 154.9 Started at 300 feet above sea level and climbed to 6204 feet
Temperatures: High 74 Low 56 Humidity 73%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 03.175 W 96 37.876

Feb 28, 2008

Oaxaca Day 3

Today was a combination of cultural awareness and shopping. I had a vague idea of what would be offered as my cousin; Terri has traveled Oaxaca extensively and has a wonderful collection of the local handicrafts. Eugene explained how the local villages figured out what tourists wanted to buy and developed coops to sell their wares. Each village sticks to the same type of handicraft. Many politics are involved in the competition process, The Josefina Aguilar Gallery; a painted ceramic shop was our first stop. The 3 Aguilar sisters are famous for this type of folk art but since the figurine is pretty fragile to transport, most tourists don’t buy it. They make detailed painted figurines and they have recently branched out into “ladies of the night” and more pornographic figures. They sell the clay figures out of their homes and it was shocking to me to see their life style. I took more photos of the dogs, chickens and turkeys roaming the center courtyard than the actual ceramics. They are very poor. We did not negotiate any of the prices, as their need is so great. Each of the married children live in one room with their family and share a central kitchen. I purchased 3 small figurines of ladies dressed in typical Mexican garb complete with shawls. I dropped a peso or 2 in the pocket of a 3-year-old darling girl standing in a doorway welcoming us into her shop. Several on the caravan had brought school supplies to give to these families. I did not allow Terry to buy the figurine he wanted, which shall not be described here in public. Our next stop was a coop that used a lap loom process to weave placemats, belts, purses, and table runners. The weaver sits and uses a long loom strapped around their waist, to weave the product. I bought 8 placemats, a table runner and a belt for Terry. The group spent many pesos!

Our next stop was the Ocatlan wood Carvers. We witnessed an artist using a machete to begin to carve a figurine out of a special kind of wood whose name I can’t recall. We did smell the resin in this wood and learned it is used to make incense for religious ceremonies as well. The carvings are colorful and whimsical. The brightly colored painted animals caught our fancy and many of us scrambled to make purchases. I got three figures, a rabbit, a frog and a cat, while Terry was watching a painter put finishing details on a turkey. Terry was smitten with the Turkey and while it was quite expensive he wanted to “think about it” until we visited the next shop.” The next stop was lunch on Adventure Caravan,( a thank you for having to endure the rough entry into the last campground. Hey we were 4-wheeling in the motorhome, it was fun now that it is over! ) We ate lunch across the street from the wood carvers in a very pleasant outdoor restaurant and Eugene ordered for the group, giving us the opportunity to sample the local mole, soup and turnovers. I loved it all, especially the shot of mescal. The next shopping frenzy was the Coyotepec Black Pottery. By this time our pesos are getting low but we are not deterred. I got a basket and began collecting treasures that were very reasonably priced. We first watched the process used to make the pottery. The son of Dona Rosa was our potter. His mom was the first to discover the process of rubbing the pottery with Quartz that resulted in a shiny product after firing. This is quite beautiful. I bought my favorites for under $100 dollars. When we arrived at the RV Park my good friend Shirley surprised me with a pot I had admired but declined. She is such a thoughtful person as she thanked us for providing Internet service on the trip.

We had a market stop and an ATM stop on the way home.

At happy hour tonight, Mike and Eileen made a Grand Slam of Awards, earning Goofy, Care Bear, and The Chicken for a host of humorous, touching and thoughtful events. We got an update that Les and Cathy are awaiting a new fuel pump. Pat and Hex shared that we might want to drive the route out of the city to see how the traffic crosses itself. They delivered my rug tonight. It is so beautiful! The turkey is being delivered to us tomorrow. Life is short, get what you want!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 81 Low 40 Humidity 40%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 03.175 W 96 37.876

Feb 29, 2008

Oaxaca Day 4

Today was an experience! Our group started in good humor wearing “Pig noses” made out of little Dixie cups as we boarded the bus. We sang a song to Alice and Pat to give them a feel for the group’s perception of the flavor of this RV Park. You see there is a pig farm right behind most of the rigs and the roosters crow all night and the pig area is a bit smelly if the wind is in the right direction. We sang to the tune of Old Mac Donald’s Farm

Adventure Caravan picked a Park, e i e i o
And behind this park there were some pigs, ei ei o
With an oink oink here and an oink oink there here an oink, there an oink , everywhere an oink oink ei ei o.
And in the night we heard the roosters. Ei ei o
With a doodle doodle here, and a doodle there ei eio
And in this park we smelled a smell. Ei ei o
With a PU here and a PU there, oh my what a smell…….

They were touched by our sense of gratitude and humor. Our guide, Eugene reported he had never in 25 years of leading tours seen a group do such a tribute.

Our itinerary included a City Tour and participation in a Traditional celebration unique to Oaxaca, representing the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Each year on the 4th Friday of Lent the community groups decorate booths and develop a beverage to share. Eugene has never given this opportunity to tourists before and we didn’t quite know what to do. It is quite a festival and we dressed up in our brightest clothes for the event. We planned that our 7-foot table would have 5 buckets of beverages. One had cantaloupe pieces chopped into it, one was watermelon base, another a rice drink and another a pineapple drink. We mixed a powered mix, added sugar, tasted, and added ice. In the mean time the group purchased fresh flowers at the flower market, decorated the buckets, decorated our booth with bougainvilleas, roses, daisies, and vines with our Adventure Caravan banner across the back. We topped this off with an American Flag, A Canadian flag and a Mexican flag. Our booth was ready early and drinks are not given out until the procession of “Jesus entering the city” is made. We signed up to work in ½ hour shifts dipping into our buckets and handing a fresh drink to those Mexican villagers who came by. The day was all smiles. Many teen-agers used their cell phones to take our photos. I think is was a very wonderful way to make for good international relations just as had been done by the good Samaritan in Biblical times. Even Terry got into serving the young ladies. The mayor came by our booth and I was filmed on local TV. It was an experience of a lifetime to be so involved with a community event. We are so fortunate to have had Eugene as our guide who worked hard to make this arrangement for us. We also had a chance to visit the Santa Doninco Church that is the most ornate in Oaxaca and is still being restored.

We also toured the local market place. It was quite crowded, had lots of smells and many interesting food items. I would starve if I had to figure out what to cook by purchasing items here. I do like my Safeway Markets. During the trip briefing tonight, Hex updated us on the status of Les and Cathy’s coach repair. An intermediate fuel pump was replaced and he told us that after the test drive, if he honked while driving back into the park, things were fine and they could continue on with us in the morning. He just came honking in the driveway. All of us let out a cheer of applause!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 86 Low 47 Humidity 18%
GPS Coordinates: N 17 03.175 W 96 37.876

March 1, 2008

Puebla/Cholula (Las Americas RV Park)

Pat and Alice sent us on our way this morning mindful of the pig area we were in.

Usually at this time of year Terry and I are at the Nascar Races in Las Vegas. Leaving Oaxaca today the taxicabs made up for anything we might have missed at the races. We had to maneuver the lanes ending up on the right side as if we had been to England and then back again. It is actually a very efficient way to move traffic but a bit disconcerting to use the wrong side of the road. Our travel day was relatively easy and interesting as we moved North and West today. We noticed a change of terrain as we climbed in altitude. At 6,000 feet we saw pine trees. We also avoided a car broken down that had used tree limbs to notify on oncoming traffic of their predicament. There were lots of kids outside the stalled vehicle and we noted how ingenious it was to use the local flora to indicate a problem. Our top altitude today was 7,950 feet but this was many up the mountains and down again. I’m sure our fuel mileage was not so good today. The mountainous terrain was very steep and yet we saw forests of Cardone cactus, thick much like you might have imagined pine trees. The cacti were single trunks and over 30 feet tall.

We followed the book and within the city of Puebla the traffic grew heavy and the PEMEX fuel station that was to be our meeting place if we got ahead of the caravan, was not so easy for Terry and I to find, so we missed the side road and waited on the interstate within the bus stop area, until the caravan arrived to lead us to this little RV Park.

At a wonderful Happy Hour tonight provided by Eileen, Shirley and Sherry, I was awarded the Goofy Award because at our lunch break, I noticed number 16 (Fern and Annette) parked ahead of us. I radioed on the CB. “Fern are you in you rig or in the restaurant? He was reminded of Doreen who has had this communication “issue” on earlier travels with them and thought of her as he awarded the Goofy to me AGAIN. I was just being neighborly. Sandy shared with the group a heart-warming incident that reflects on the positive nature of Mexicans. Hex had to pull over and assist number 14, Bill and Sherry with a slide out problem early in today’s journey. They pulled over in front of a local camper shell business and the guy opened his restroom so Hex could wash the grease off his hands. One never ever knows the boundaries that an act of kindness can travel.

We have passed from the State of Oaxaca to the State of Puebla and will have a city tour in the morning. Before we get too far away from the State of Oaxaca I wanted to share a few more details with you. I learned the city of Oaxaca is almost 800,000 people and has spread out into suburbs as the city continues to grow. Eugene related to us that one of the biggest problems Mexico has is Education. He asked if we had heard the bad news from their city a year age. Most of us had not. He related to us that the teacher union is the strongest in the country. They seem to strike or picket each Friday. Their workday is from 8 am to 12:30 pm including ½ hour for breakfast. The teachers involved are from Kindergarten to college. They are supposed to work 186 teaching days (about the equivalent of a California public school year 180 days) and they have 20 sick days, 9 days they don’t have to call in for anything special. They can get their credential from their parents if their parents were teachers for a mere $5,000. (Bribe) He showed us graffiti on local fences that were messages from teachers about their request for benefits from the regular demonstrations. The starting salary for the 4 1/2 hour workday is $1900 dollars a month. Plus they have medical and retirement. I will check these details again with Eugene, as I was so interested in Teacher Union problems that may have over stated the cause. I just recall from my workdays that negotiations for benefits and salaries with teachers were a stressful time.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 226
Temperatures: High 82 Low 43 Humidity 21%
GPS Coordinates: N 19 4 22.8 W 98 17 38.8

March 2, 2008

Puebla City Tour

Today Eugene joined us again to show us Puebla. Two of his sisters live here and have a grand familiarity of the city. The bus toured us around this big city of 2 million, which is fairly prosperous. Buildings are in a state of completion and some of the residential neighborhoods we toured show prosperity. The State of Puebla does not have tourism as one of its local economic industries. The VW plant is here is as are several manufacturing plants. Puebla has the 5th largest population in Mexico. Mexico City has the largest population with 25 million people. We visited Cholula, a ruin in partial restoration. It was interesting as it showed the amount of labor and energy it takes to uncover a ruin. Notable here was the Catholic Church atop one of the mounds that indicate when the Spanish came to occupy this territory they built their churches over the temples of the ancients to show who was boss.

Do you know how many states are in Mexico? Answer to follow. Puebla has a water shortage and the city pumps water only 3 to 4 hours each week. If you run out then you have to pay for a truck to deliver more. No one hoses off his or her sidewalks or porches, as this is wasteful. The city has a very French influence with their architecture. We visited the zocolo or town square today and as it was Sunday got to enjoy an afternoon of free band concerts, balloons for sale and a very pleasant afternoon in a nice setting. Our first tourist spot was the Talavera Tile factory famous for colored tiles. My pesos were mostly spent the last few days so I did not purchase any of the lovely tiles or dishes but I really wanted the entire set of dishes I photographed. We were given free time to explore the handicraft markets, a nearby Cathedral and then we met at an upscale Hotel for a buffet lunch. We were serenaded by a pretty good musician and enjoyed ourselves.

Tonight Terry and I shared the slide show of the photos he has taken so far to any who had time and interest. I served champagne and we all ooooowwed and ahhhhheed about the memories we have made so far on this trip!

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 73 Low 42 Humidity 25%
GPS Coordinates: N 19 4 22.8 W 98 17 38.8

March 3, 2008 Travel Day to Costa Esmeralda

Another day,…..another adventure!

The trip briefing the night before indicated this should be an easy travel day. We only had 166 miles to go and we had already been to the RV Park so we knew what to expect. We were split into 3 groups to allow us a better chance to keep us with each other out of Puebla as this city of 2 million prepared to go to work on the Monday morning we were to leave. We had a couple of little problems getting everyone out the gate in-group 2. Bob and Trish' rig would not fit through the gate at the angle they approached it so many had to juggle positions and Fern’s mirror was cracked by some close calls in backing up. Pat and Alice were to lead group 1. Bob and Trish were to lead group 2 and Hex and Sandy were to lead our group 3, & rigs each. Piece of cake. Well, we hear on CB that the leader of group 2 missed the first turn onto the freeway taking one rig with them. So now Shirley is the wagon Master and not wanting the job! Bob led Art through a returno and back on course. Hex got his group out but we had huge traffic as the local school was starting and LOTS of kids were walking and parents driving them to school down our little narrow road. At mile 21 our first tollbooth of the day, we spotted John and Marilyn’s trailer parked along side the road. WE figured he had a tire problem but actually he was there to inform us that the book was wrong and that we needed to do a returno and then turn left to go on the road to Tezuitulan. We were happy that he spent an hour there waiting to make sure we all made the turn. Someplace between Acajate and Rafael, we ran into road construction and a detour that took us under a freeway up onto the oncoming lane and were told to turn on our lights that we had to share the road going this way. It was very disconcerting to be traveling up an onramp while oncoming traffic is coming down. But hey we can all share the road. By now it is ever apparent that our book is not going to have reliable information today so Alice and Trish set out ahead of us in the car to “find the best way” for us to go. We lost CB radio contact as hand held CB’s are no so long ranged.

We come upon Werner and Phoebe sitting in their Roadtrek at a Pemex station and they have been left as sentries to inform us we are to turn left at that corner. The first group made this discovery after driving several miles out of the way and Walter who can speak Spanish ask a local, the way. They come back and wait for the Wagon masters to catch up with those ahead. One by one we travel up almost 8200 feet and come to the city of Tlatacoyan (I think) It reminded me of San Francisco with the terrain. The narrow one-way streets were obviously built for horses when originated. The streets were definitely not suitable for 102 inch wide bodies. But we had no choice but to follow the rig in front of us and make no turn until we could see the guy behind us. We heard Pat radio to Walter (who speaks Spanish) to hire a taxi cab driver to lead us out of town. Walter flagged the cab in front of him who had customers inside and could not deviate but he did at least give us the clue city to look for Nautla. So we followed the Nautla signs. Keep in mind there are 21 of us and some are way behind having had to stop for overheated tires, heated brakes, and watching a pick up truck roll over 4 times and land on it’s side missing all other traffic. Hex rushed over with his fire extinguisher and to assist but no one was hurt. Whew our caravan has a guardian angel but I think Connie earned some more gray hair witnessing the near miss. While driving through the streets on this little mountain town I stand up near the right side and cal out to Terry how many inches he has before he hits the street sign and posts, which are built directly at the curb. I call to 12 inches, 8 inches 6 inches, minus 2 inches. He “swerves” with the 4 inches he has to spare as the opposing traffic comes by. This day was not as much fun as others we have had. A police officer assists some of us in making a very narrow sharp turn. Some have to unhook tow cars and back up to make the turn. Then we head down hill out of town over new road construction. A grader is plowing up the entire black top so we drive on dirt for a few blocks wishing that this were not happening to us. Finally we head out of town and down from 8,000 feet or so to 2,500 feet in a few short miles. Narrow sharp dangerous curves are what had us smelling burning brakes. We are out of the desert region and back into humid tropical climate where bananas flourish as do fruit of all kinds. When we arrived at Costa Esmeralda it was my turn to prepare happy our snacks. What a rush. I had planned on arriving around 1 and having a few hours to prepare but thankfully the time was moved back and at 5:30 we all had some stories to tell about this drive. Happy Hour for me became Happy Evening and I did not get this typed until today.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 166.7
Temperatures: High 77 Low 66 Humidity 88%
GPS Coordinates: N 20 17 03.6 W 96 49 44.5

March 4, 2008

Free Day in Costa Esmeralda

Today we enjoyed a much-needed free day with no structured activities. It was a cool cloudy overcast day at the beach. Many errands were completed and I slept in. A wonderful hamburger feed was held tonight and we welcomed the homemade French fries and expert chefs. Following the meal, Goofy went to Jim and Susan because here we are on day 43 of a 46-day trip and he finally learned how to use his CB radio to transmit. Now we may hear from him on the road. Sandy (Mrs. Pepper) organized a fantastic auction and Bob T ( in costume) served as auctioneer while Mike( also in drag) was the Vanna White for the items. The items auctioned off were actually souvenirs many had purchased and now had second thoughts about even wanting them! Zillions of laughs were had as we got into bidding wars with each other and ourselves. We have to pay up tomorrow. At the end of the evening, Jerry provided a most touching moment. Jerry has a broken foot and used a colorful carved cane for the better part of the trip. He and Connie worked in Rehabilitation Therapy for 25 years and know how disabilities can conquer people or people can conquer disabilities. He awarded the “man of men among us” tribute to Les as one who has overcome so much more than most of us ever could. Jerry gave his cane to Les, which Les had come to admire. We gave Les a standing ovation. We called it an early night as we have along travel day tomorrow.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 0
Temperatures: High 77 Low 66 Humidity 88%
GPS Coordinates: N 20 17 03.6 W 96 49 44.5

March 5, 2008

Travel Day to Tampico

We left early and I sort of dreaded traveling this road as when we traveled this road many weeks ago it was so terrible. It’s funny how things look different going the other direction. Many potholes had been fixed and we took a bit of a different route. We left at 7 am and arrived at 3:40 pm. It was not raining so that made a difference. We arrived at he Country Express Hotel Parking lot and the group did a hobo dinner of soup. Lane made corn bread to go with the dinner. Werner and Phoebe watched the pot boil. Pat set up his TV to show the DVD that Terry had made of the entire trip. At the trip briefing each couple was given a copy of the DVD. Pat and Alice gave each couple a souvenir of photos from the trip and room for even more memories. Ted and Ann arrived late with Hex and Sandy as his alternator acted up again. We’re convinced they love attention of a late arrival. Terry and I skipped the group soup as he had a rib eye in mind from our past trip here. Tomorrow is our farewell dinner. It is amazing how fast 46 days can go.

While at the Hotel restaurant tonight, we met 3 people from Lubbock Texas. We told them we have others on our trip from that city. They had left 3 am and had already traveled 700 miles today. They help at a clinic in Chiapas and do eye surgery for the people there. They were only stopping for dinner and were going to drive on another 200 miles to be closer to Lubbec. Some people really know how to make a difference. We agreed that we kiss USA ground when we arrive and our washer and dryers. Life is good.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 230
Temperatures: High 83 Low 61
GPS Coordinates: N 22 30.170 W 98 07.100

March 6, 2008

Travel Day to CD Victoria

I’m having push pull emotions today. I don’t want the trip to be over but I want to “go home.” Tonight is our Farewell dinner so the end is very near. As we drove our short distance today we were all happy to arrive at an RV Park before noon. It gives us the afternoon to unwind and reflect and get ready to say our good byes tonight. During the travel morning we noted that we are back in the desert portion of Mexican climate and the scrub brush is dry along here. We see the contrast of new cell phone towers with herds of goats being tended by a farmer on his donkey walking underneath. We see many donkeys tied up along the road acting as grass cutters. We see organ pipe cactus and lots of prickly pear cactus. We passed by a marker signifying we were at the Tropic of Cancer. We traveled this road almost 6 weeks ago and I have no memory of it. Everything still looks like Mexico. There are plastic bags on the ground and litter is present. We are used to it. We are counting the number of pesos we have to trade back and still allow enough to fill up one more time with fuel. Mexican diesel prices are better than those in US so we want to top off.

At the trip briefing we broke into 2 groups to head out early in the morning for the border. We took two busses to a very nice restaurant and said our thank yous and “farewell until we meet again” words. We celebrated Marilyn Long’s birthday. We gave the Goofy permanently to Fern and Annette. Mike and Eileen tied with Bob and Lane for Care Bear Awards, Chicken will live forever with John and Marilyn and Shirley keeps the unending glass. Walter, Terry and Ted were acknowledged for providing Internet access to the group this whole time. It was nice to keep in touch with family and friends and to pay our bills while gone for such a long time. Terry was able to get a satellite signal every day on the trip. Pat and Alice gave a vote of confidence to our trainees Bob and Trish who completed the training with flying colors and we will look forward to having them as a wagon master or tail gunner on any other trip. Pat and Alice thanked Hex and Sandy for providing such terrific back up support. Alice spoke kindly about each person on the trip. Pat said it was a hard trip and he was appreciative that so many had been so helpful, kind and flexible to make lifelong friends and memories for all. A group of us sang a tribute to the trip. Lyrics are courtesy of Bruce, Barb, Sherry, Shirley and Eileen.

YUCATAN 2008

The adventure began and ended in Pharr
and in between we saw it all
Including the ruins one by one
The challenge to some climbers was surely won

The road from Tampico was the worst we would find
Topes and pot holes were taxing the mind
Club Nautica was a beautiful park
Our super bowl party continued way past dark

Vera Cruz beach had lots of trash
with helping hands it disappeared in a flash
We gathered up kindling and lots of logs
Then enjoyed the fire and Mexican hot dogs

To Chichen Itza with a guide
Smart people with lots of pride
A ferry ride to Islea Mujeres
Riding golf carts was a pleasure

Xel-Ha had water, food and fun
Something there for everyone
The new figures for the girls
Had everyones head in a twirl

Off to Belize 35 of us went
Fun on a boat and ruins was spent
When we returned we were welcomed back
By a bunch of cross dressers that entered the pact

In Oaxaca we stayed in a park
The pigs smelled even after dark
The roosters crowed to give us warning
Whether it was at night or early morning

Apart from that we had great busy days
The rugs, wood carvers and pottery left us amazed
We decorated a table with flowers
and served drinks for two hours

The travel log we thought we could live by
But from Pueblo we found it to be a lie
Thru mountains & towns we wished we could shrink
At the end of a long day we were glad to drink

Our leaders of Pat and Alice, Hex and Sandy too
Came thru with colors like red, white and blue
We'll keep the memories of these four
And praises for them more and more

The trip is now in the past
46 days of having a blast
New Friendships made that will never end.
Travel home safe with God's blessings we send.

Chorus:

Eye eye eye
Round the Yucatan we travelled
We had lots of fun, we sat in the sun
and we all drank margaritas.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 117
Temperatures: High 101 Low 61
GPS Coordinates: N 23 44.603 W 99 08.197

March 7, 2008

Back in the USA

We were in the second group to leave CD Victoria this morning. Bob and Lane had a flat on their tow vehicle as they pulled out and true to form the group helped Bob with a patch and got him ready to leave with our group. The drive was on good roads as we watched cornfields with tractors, a few donkeys with carts and many small farms. The closer to the border we got the more prosperous people seem to be. We stopped for PEMEX fuel one last time and met up with our leaders, Pat and Alice. They guided us to the border where there were way too many vehicles crossing at one time to go smoothly. When we arrived, the group ahead of us had not yet cleared the immigration booths. We had to present our Tourist visas and passports for stamping and if we had no desire to return to Mexico we had to turn in our holograms and vehicle numbers. Terry and I had no tow vehicle and that made it easier so we got through with a minimum of frustration. At the US inspection we lost 4 apples due to the agricultural inspection. It was as if a weight had been lifted from our shoulders to once again be on ground of USA. We feel so fortunate to have been born here in the USA to be able to enjoy the infrastructure, amenities and English speaking culture that we so take for granted. People should travel to a third world country to realize how lucky we are to be US citizens. If you have only flown in to Cancun for a week’s vacation, you have not been to the Mexico we saw.

We traveled back to Texas trails RV Park for the night and at least half of the caravan met up to go out to dinner at Olive Garden tonight. We enjoyed salad, water with ice, cloth napkins and many services. Terry was delighted to be presented with a Gift certificate for Olive Garden from the group as a Thank you for providing Internet services during our trip. It was a generous gesture and very much appreciated!!!

All of us are going in different directions early in the morning but we are assured that our paths will cross again. I shall share my reflections on this trip tomorrow when I’ve had some rest and relaxed.

Statistics:
Motorhome Miles Driven: 209
Temperatures: High 72 Low 47 High winds all day
GPS Coordinates: N 26 11.690 W 98 11.030

March 8, 2008

Traveling up the road toward Dallas

Did you think you were rid of me yet?

So this last night and this morning at our Texas Trail RV Park, we let our water run for a long shower, kept all lights on and put on all TV’s. We could run water through our taps for coffee. (If we had drained all Mexico water yesterday) Welcome to 50 amp full hoops US style!

After a tearful good bye to our friends who got up early enough to see us off out of Pharr, Texas, we hit the road again. I felt at a bit of a loss today. I had no trip log book to follow landmarks. Terry’s GPS was doing all of the navigating. The roads were like butter. We stopped at a Speedco for an oil change and lube and had a brief encounter with rig not starting. After a bit of priming, we were on the road again. While we were close to Ned and Lorna we were not close enough to make our visit happen. We are spending the night at Cabalas and I am making linguini and clams. While driving today Terry and I commented on many things that we think were significant pertaining to our Mexican experiences.

1. This trip is not for everyone. The exact text of the Adventure Caravan Brochure reads: These trips are for the adventuresome and not for those who put a high priority on the importance of RV facilities and roads. These are exotic trips with a great appeal and exciting lifetime experiences but the roads are poor in some areas and RV accommodations are rustic in many areas we travel. When the trip information we received said “full hook ups” the services could vary from water (non potable), or maybe sewer and an electric outlet like that you might see in an old home in a fence. The dump station might be not very accessible for a big rig. Terry never found a ground on any of the Mexican hook ups. He used his meter to verify that the power ranged from well over 130 volts to 80 volts and in some park that range fluctuated between the high and lows. So basically we ran our generator ¾ of the time even in park that had “power.” I share this only for those who may come with high expectations. We dealt with this as a feature of travel in Mexico. Thank Goodness we had some experience with travel in Mexico. We were NEVER disappointed with our Mexican RV Parks as we kept our expectations realistic to a poor country. We saw fewer than a dozen private RV’s on our entire trip. If there are no customers, why would any one want to invest in upgrading or maintaining an RV Park? Caravans are the lifeblood of many of the places we enjoyed.

2. Security for Tourists is not an issue. We welcomed the many Military checkpoints with armed youngsters fulfilling their mandatory 1-year military duty at age 18. The armed presence is a deterrent for the potential drug runners. At almost every checkpoint, those of us in a caravan were waved through. The Mexican Government sees tourism as an asset and basically left us alone. We did not see any banditos nor did I ever feel unsafe deep into Mexico at any time.

3. We did not see any low sulfur diesel anywhere. So much for buying a new RV.

4. I have a much better appreciation for the term “dirt poor.” Chiapas is a very poor state but many of the villages have little more than cinder blocks around their homes. The basic building material of homes in Mexico is the Cinder block. There are no “building codes” and Terry cringed at the wiring issues. Rebar sticks out of construction so families can “add on” later when funds may allow or families grow. I think of “stick house” construction as having wood 2x4’s and we saw almost no homes with this material.

5. I have a much better understanding of the will for a Mexican to immigrate to the US. They are warm people with a desire to do well by their family. The worst neighborhood I’ve seen in the US is considerably better than many in Mexico. NO wonder immigrants send a portion of their salary back to family in Mexico.

6. Topes (killer speed bumps) control speed in small towns but are worse than any frost heave we ever encountered in Alaska. Many are unmarked and some are inverted. They give lots of business to tire and alignment places. They do control speed without radar cops!

7. The fuel stations are Government controlled and called PEMEX stations. They are well designed for easy access, large and come at very regular intervals. Flying J should take a lesson. The Mexican diesel fuel was very reasonably price compared to US prices. Of the hardships in Mexico, getting fuel was not one of them!!

8. A few of my friends have commented that I seemed unhappy on the trip. Not so. This was a trip of a lifetime with some inconveniences compared to US standards.

Some on our caravan coined the phrase ADR (another damn ruin) while we did see many ruins; I loved to learn the history of the Mexican people. I have a much better understanding of the Olmec, Toltec, Mayan and finally Aztec Civilizations. I wish I had a better understanding of the American Native and their development over similar time frames. The history of mankind is fascinating. I hope we do not repeat any mistakes of the past.

This was quite a trip. I am glad we had the comfort of friends on a caravan to make things fun all along the way. After all without people we have nothing. Thank you for following our trip and for your kind words of encouragement along the way.

I am so glad to be back in the USA. We are still far from home and life issues have caught up with us (via cell phone) quickly, but we loved every moment of our Mexican Adventure.

NO matter how I may have painted the hardships, the bottom line is that I learned so much about another country and I’m glad all of you were with me for the journey!

I am so blessed with privileges!