Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Feliz Navidad - Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

We are back in Ohio for a family Christmas and wanted to wish all the readers of our blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Here is a little entertainment for your pleasure, click the arrow in center.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting Ready to Head Back to the Snow

Last night Claude & Dierck brought Ann back with her 5th wheel from Bacalar. Gerry is arranging to get his truck flat bedded back to Playa del Carmen where he might have better luck get some keys made. The key specialist in Chetumal could not make him a computer chip key. Gerry made it back today at 1PM so hopefully a key will get made and he will finally have his truck back.

Beautiful Altamira Orioles fly into the pine tree behind our camper every afternoon. We also have fun feeding the iguanas right behind the fence.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is our last day before heading back to Cleveland for the holidays. In the past we left our RV at Meco Loco Trailer Park in Puerto Juarez just North of Cancun, since we fly out of Cancun. This year we decided to leave it here at Xpu-Ha to save ourselves the drive there and back and setting up twice. It will cost a little more but since Claude was willing to drop us off in Playa del Carmen Thursday morning to catch the ADO airport bus we decided to just leave the RV where it is.
The snow is supposed to stop on Thursday but even though it is cool here I’m not sure how we will react to the freezing temperatures back home. We have 4 kids and eleven grandchildren that we are anxious to see at Christmas time and we plan to fly back right after our big New Year’s Eve celebration.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Enjoying the Beach and Weather at Xpu-Ha

Last Thursday we were expecting Claude & Mags along with Gerry and Ann to arrive at La Playa campground. They all live about 70 mi North of us near Chatham, ON and we camped here with them last year.
Late in the afternoon Claude rolls in and tells us the bad news. While they were camped along the road in Bacalar, Gerry & Ann were burglarized by some kids. The worst part was, besides taking their computer, they stole both sets of truck keys, so now they are stuck there until they can get some new computer programmed keys made for them.
Of course Mexico is much safer then Westlake, I read today in the news, “WESTLAKE, Ohio -- Monday, December 13, 2010, Three homes were burglarized Saturday and Sunday in the same neighborhood.”, so I guess no matter where you are, watch out.
We like to walk to the end of the beach by an abandoned hotel and sit by our own private Palapa.

Of course we marked it so no one else will use it.

This is the beach directly in front of the camp.

This morning Dierck and Claude are driving 3 hrs back to Bacalar to see if they can pull Gerry’s 5th wheel back to camp so that they don’t have to sit there along along the highway. They hope they can tow his truck somewhere that is safe until the key gets made. They tried offering a reward if the kids returned his keys but no luck so far.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On the beach in Xpu-Ha

See Map 6
Everything still looks the same
The solar arrays I have don’t seem to be able to keep up with our use of electrical power so we decided early Tuesday morning to drive to Playa del Carmen and do some shopping and then drive back south about 15 mi to La Playa campground at Xpu-ha. The batteries were down to 50% capacity and are either weak or we are using more power than we can produce with the low sun angles.

The roads were perfect, no construction all the way back and we made good time. About a 3:20 min drive including a search by a military drug dog on the way out of Mahahual. No drugas. The roads through Felipe Carrillo Puerto are unchanged, you still have to drive right through the city, but all the rest of the roads were 100 kph(60mph) with a few topes in the little towns. The new highway overpass in Playa looks done but it is not open yet. Peggy wanted to wash some clothes so we went to the laundry at the Chedraui, did some shopping bought some Propane and still got to camp in the early afternoon.

We met our old friend Siegfried whose husband died here at Xpu-Ha a few years ago. Vera & Dierck from Germany have been here for a month and a half. We expect Ann & Gerry along with Claude & Mags to arrive tomorrow from Ontario across the lake from Cleveland. A couple of the campers moved to a new campground just North of Playa del Carmen.

We took a beach walk early this morning before it got too hot. It went down to 52oF this morning, we darn near froze to death. It’s in the high 80’s and sunny today. A week from now we will be going back home for 18 days to enjoy Christmas with our family. A vacation from our vacation. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow too much.

Snow back home in Westlake

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quiet Sunday on The Costa Maya

The RV batteries didn’t seem to be taking a charge or holding a charge. So I pulled them out to inspect and found a lot of oxidation on the terminals, I cleaned them up and things look better, we will see what happens tonight. The refrigerator seems to be working just fine since our problems a few days ago.
ShoppingCruiseDock Not much went on on Saturday night and even less on a Sunday. A nice warm sunny day at Blue Bay.
We decided to bike down the Malecon and then over to where the cruise ships dock. We heard that there were stores there and that was as far as some passengers ever got.  Everything was closed of course since the next ship doesn’t arrive until Tuesday. It’s really fun bicycling on the nice smooth roads with no traffic. We get a strong breeze off the ocean which makes it feel cooler than the 85oF temperature.
This is the lighthouse at the end of the road right next to the campground. If you get this far looking for the campground you missed the right turn. The malecon starts here and is about a mile long with the beach on one side and restaurants and shopping on the other side.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Enjoying Mahahual – Warm & Sunny

The other campers from Mi left on Friday and headed South to near Xcalak where the gal has a little B & B using large tents, called Okotuil Beach Club, it seems a little pricy for a tent.
For those that have the time and don’t mind the lack of hookups this place is great. It’s 35 mi off the main highway down a perfectly smooth what they call a 4 lane road. When you see the Lighthouse make a right turn toward all the little hotels, then take the first left turn into a driveway of a construction site. It is also the only way to get into the campground. We had to wait while they moved a vehicle and stopped working in the middle of the driveway to get in here. The camp is right on the Malecon and next to the beach.
Peggy and I took a nice bike ride up and down the Malecon and over to the the little town to buy some vegetables and watch the  Holland Am. Nieuw Amsterdam try to dock on a very windy day. It seemed to take hours to dock and we didn’t see many tourists in town. There are no more cruise ships until Tuesday. 
I’m not sure how all the little shops and bars survive here, the Malecon is empty of tourists. On Friday night there were a few locals at the Blue Bay Beach Club which runs the campground. We heard them go home at 3 AM. I hope Saturday night is not too noisy.
We are starting to really enjoy our stay here, it’s very pretty setting, they have beach palapas to sit at and a place to tie up your hammock. We took a 12 mi bike ride heading south of the 1 mi Malecon. There are little places all along the bumpy road and a few places to camp. We saw 3 dive shops along the way.
In town the dogs are all friendly and used to bicycles. But as we got out far away from town a few dogs chased us and intimidated Peggy, but they didn’t snap at us.
Saturday afternoon I finally got my kayak down and paddled over to the cruise dock and did some surfing. The surfing was a little scary since the waves are breaking on a coral reef and some of the coral heads are above the water. Luckily I missed them all. They have nice cold showers and a toilet in a big Palapa for the campers. The place is brand new, so I hope he gets enough business to stay open.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mahahual – Finally got to Yucatan Coast

See Map 5
Blue Bay Campground
Yesterday after we got to camp we noticed that the refrigerator temperature was 54oF instead of 38oF. We spent most of the afternoon checking everything I could think of including asking my friends at RV.Net who had lots of suggestions. I finally saw a suggestion that said “Put a fan behind the refrigerator to get good ventilation”. I had a 12v fan that I wired in. Low & behold the temperature went back down to 38o. We let it run all night and it was 34o in the morning. When we hit the road at 6 AM, I turned off the fan and watched the temperature. It stayed cold all the way to Chetumal where I bought a little smaller car fan to use if needed.
How many miles to Home
The roads were great, hardly a chuck hole anywhere and only one short place where they were paving. We made very good time, had time to shop at the big mall in Chetumal before driving to Mahahual on the coast. Those roads were perfect also except for the usual topes. We got to camp at 2PM in time to see one cruise ships leave port. The second much larger ship left at 6PM but there were no boat people in town when we took a walk down the beautiful new Malecon. Tomorrow another ship will arrive, and then no more ships until Tuesday.
Old VW Camper - Not in our Camp
The campground is run by a guy from Mexico City that speaks very good English. It’s called Blue Bay and it is just a few hundred yards from the Lighthouse at the end of the road. They have laid out enough room for at least 10 rigs but there are no hookups of any kind. The fee is a reasonable 120p per night with free Wi-Fi if you are close to the bar. One other couple from MI is camped here but are leaving tomorrow.
Peggy wants to take a bike ride tomorrow to get a close up view of the cruise ship and see that end of town and take a ride down the wide Malecon. It’s interesting that this town only
exists for the cruise companies to provide a port to visit besides Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. They call it "The Mayan Riviera". The ship we saw “Oasis of the Seas” holds 6000 passengers and 2000 crew. I glad they were all back on board when we got there, The Holland Am. Nieuw Amsterdam is in port tomorrow, it’s only 2000 passengers.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Freedom Shores – Isla Aquada

See Map 4
After a very nice week at Villas Tepetapen in Catemaco we hit the road at 6:30 AM for Isla Aquada. There were two bridge detours on the way to Acayucan but other than a few bad places it was a good drive.

View from our RV at Freedom Shores RV Park
When we got on the Cuota we noticed that no traffic was going West back toward Vera Cruz. They said the road was closed for a while, no reason given.

We went East but the cuota was in bad shape so it was slow. I thought it would be really bad near Agua Dulce as that road washes out in the storms every year but the have put down some nice new pavement in that area. There were many bumpy stretches along the way to Villahermosa where we turned to go North.

Isla Aquada Taxi

For the first time they did not look in my refrigerator for Pork, Chicken, Eggs and Citrus Fruit at the Campeche border. They asked, and I said I had none, so they waved me on.
The numerous Topes before Ciudad Del Carmen were bad and it took almost 9 hours to complete our 330 mi journey. There was one military stop but they just asked for Passports, no search. 
We are now at Freedom Trails Campground for two nights. Price is still a high $300p per night, but nice sites on the water with good electricity. We are in the same site we have had every time we have come here. I love the little motorbike taxis they use in the little town. It was a hot day with temperature near 90oF, but no rain. We have not had any rain on the trip so far other than a few rain drops last Friday night. But last night we got a good hard rain and today, Wednesday, it is very windy. There is one other RV in the campground and they are from Mexico.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Last Day At Catemaco

My Thanksgiving Dinner

Friday was a little cooler and we hung around camp until dinner time when we walked to town with Marilyn & Bob from Austrailia. They bought a used Class-C RV in TX and are going to Panama and then back to the USA for a year. We had a nice dinner over the water at Jorge & Pepe's. Our new friends left early Saturday morning.

On Saturday I thought it would be good to bike over to a campground called La Jungla, on the other end of the lake. After a couple up good hills 5-1/2 mi later I got there only to find they would not let me in as they were getting ready to film a French movie all next month. This is the same area that they filmed Apocalypto. I think they filmed Medicine Man there also. Must be a nice jungle setting on the large lake.

Sunday we walked to town to buy a new pair on sunglasses for Peggy. She cannot find her clip-ons that she had on when we entered Mexico.

Monday John & Elsie left for Cancun, Two other campers also left. But a huge bus camper arrived. They are on their way to Paamul. I biked around some more and did some shopping at the new Bodega Aurrera, owned by Wal-Mart.

We plan to leave about 7 AM on Tuesday after a really nice week at Villas Tepetapan & RV Park and drive  to Isla Aquada which is on the coast in the State of Campeche.

See Map 4

Friday, November 26, 2010

Catemaco Bike Ride

When you walk along the Malecon in Catemaco you will see dozens of launches and boat captains trying to sell you a ride to see the monkeys on the small island in the lake. I had paddled my kayak there before, so we passed on a boat ride, We checked out the shops and restaurants instead.
I found this artist rendering of the Catemaco-Tuxtla area, I loved the detail and it gave me the idea to take a bike ride along the canal that comes out of the lake right past our campground.

The ride was good idea after the big turkey dinner last night. Most everyone one in camp and in the Casitas attended, so there was lots to eat.

The road down to the canal is a little bumpy but the path is not too steep. Peggy was able to peddle back up it  without a problem. The path along the canal has several dips and Vados but was a nice ride with some good views looking back toward San Andres. 
After about 2-1/2 mi the canal ends in a small lake where the water then plunges through a huge pipe to the power station below. We started down the hill but realized that it goes down a long way and we were not going to take that long a ride in this hot weather. So, we turned around and peddled back to camp to have a nice lunch. It would be a nice walk for those that don’t have bikes along.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catemaco–Tepetapen RV Park

See Map 3
It’s only a 200 mi drive from the Emerald Coast to Catemaco but it takes 6 hours. So we left Neptuno campground at 6:15 AM to allow us plenty of time for grocery shopping and bad roads. The roads south of the campground have improved a little and they are currently paving a section which slowed us a little. The two overpasses they have been working on for the past two years on the Vera Cruz bypass are still being worked on and getting though the intersection and on to the correct road to the Tuxtlas is still a problem.
We always stop at the Soriana in San Andres Tuxtla, it’s a really good mega-store supermarket. While shopping who pops up but Sunny & Kurt who have  Casitas at Villas Tepetapen. They hopped in our RV and saved them a bus ride back to camp. I kayaked here with Sunny last year and it was a surprise to meet her here.
When we got to the RV park we found John & Elsie there to greet us. We will be staying with them near Cancun before and after we fly back home for the Christmas holidays, like we did the past two years.
Finally more RV’s then we have seen for the entire trip so far. Catemaco is a nice destination and the campground owner is friendly and keeps the campground in great shape. Here is Gene cleaning the pool in the morning.
We probably will stay here for a week, especially after Gene confirmed that the big Thanksgiving Turkey dinner is on again this year. He improved the Wi-Fi and signal is strong, fast and free.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On the Emerald Coast, North of Vera Cruz

See Map 2
We stayed at La Pesca until Sunday morning.As usual the owner was great and made us feel very welcome, especially since we were the first RV of the season. He hopes more campers or cabin renters come or he may have to close it up, and it is a very nice place close to the town and the beach.
We pulled out at 6 AM under a bright full moon since it is a 9-1/2 hr, 380mi drive to the Costa Esmeralda. Right after Altamira, a few miles before the Tampico bypass, we saw the Transito police where they stopped us last year. So we were going slow and staying in the right lane, but they stopped us for a second anyway and said keep going slow in the right lane, no attempt at a bribe. On the bypass where you go over the highway overpass to start heading back North, another Transito stopped us for no apparent reason asked for my drivers license, he handed it back and said adios. Maybe it was a seat-belt check, who knows. Maybe it was the big stickers on my RV that says in Spanish. “Stop feeding the corruption, no bite” We never saw any military stops southbound at all.
The bypass was as bad as ever but the roads south of Tampico were much better, very few road craters. There was about 5 mi of construction south of Soto de la Marina but it did not hold us up. Traffic was light, we took our time and stopped for some oranges south of Alamo and got to Neptuno campground before 3:30 PM. No other campers, he said a few days ago there were two RV’s. Guess what? No cell service to try my new 3G stick and no Wi-Fi anywhere nearby.
We will stay at Neptuno for two nights, I looked next door at Trailer Park de Alba and it looked open but no one was there, we usually stay there but someone told us it was closed. On Tuesday morning we will head to Catemaco and Tepetepan campground. We like the friendly people there and hope that they will again have their annual Thanksgiving pot-luck dinner with the campground owner cooking up the turkeys.
I checked again and now I can connect my computer to the internet with my new card, Yea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

La Pesca - Perfect Weather for Bicycling

On Thursday it got really windy and cool in the morning, so we waited until the wind died down in the afternoon and took a bike ride to the beach. It’s only 1-1/2mi away by nice paved road and since it dead-ends on the beach there is not much traffic.

It didn’t look like the hurricane did much damage as all the palapas were still standing awaiting some tent campers.

I found out that they still have a little internet place in town about a mile away, I can’t use my new 3G card since there is no cell service in this sleepy little town.

On Friday the temperatures warmed back up to the 80’s and the wind died. So our morning ride to the beach was very easy with perfect temperatures and sunny skies. We took a nice beach walk as well. After lunch I did some writing and Peggy read her book and I biked back to town to post this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drive to La Pesca, MX

See Map 1
We awoke early and headed over to a nearby McDonalds to use their free Wi-Fi and then headed to the border crossing at Los Indios, it’s only a 20 min ride so we got there about 7AM. I think the crossing opens at 6AM but the place where you can get your FMM visa’s doesn’t open until 8AM and if you need a car permit or want to pay for your FMM that doesn’t open until 9AM. We left a few minutes after 8AM, but did not pay the visa fee, you can pay at any time during the trip at any bank in MX.

We drove to Valle Hermosa and got there to buy a Telcel 3G card for my computer so we can get internet access when within cell phone range. Too early again! The Coppel store doesn’t open until 10 AM and we got here at 9 AM. However the Bancomer bank across the street opens at 9 AM so I decided to pay for my FMM and exchange some dollars for pesos. We did a little shopping and I was first in-line at the Telcel booth. They were very helpful in buying the computer 3G stick and signing up for the service but it took an hour to do it. The stick cost about $50 and 30 days of service cost $40.

It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to La Pesca on very good roads with very light traffic. Of course there were two military stops and one customs stop along the way which went very quickly. We saw a lot of military in vehicles along the way also.

We got to La Pesca a little before 3pm and temperatures were in the high 80’s. We found that the Tropicana Campground had weathered the Hurricane that passed right over it this summer well, it looked the same as last year and the USA owner was happy to see his first RV of the season. He is very troubled that his tourism business has dried up but of course it is still very  early in the season.

The campground has full hookups for one site and if he fixes the electrical has water and electric for about 4 more sites along with 4 nice cabins. It is right on the river and about 1-1/2 mi to the free ocean beach camp sites.

We awoke to a very windy morning and temperature about 70oF, there is no cell service here so I had to bike into town to post this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Entering Mexico Wednesday Morning

We spent 4 nights with the Priem’s in Houston. Rich & Tracey and their three sons, Cade, Dane & Finn really entertained us. We took a couple of short bike rides. Rob Hammond drove all the way down from Austin to be with us for a Sunday evening Mexican dinner with an entertaining singer. Tracey’s parents stopped over for a great Salmon dinner on Monday.  We left around 9:15AM on Tuesday morning to drive to San Benito, TX a few miles south of Harlingen to have a early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Longhorn Bar-B-Q . We got there around 3:15PM which left Peggy plenty of time to shop at the Mall in Harlingen before retiring for the night in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot with several other campers also heading to Mexico. I‘m posting this from a nearby McDonalds early in the morning. We will cross at Los Indios.

Wednesday’s plan is to stop in Valle Hermosa to see if I can get a 3G phone card for my computer from Telcel, get some pesos from an ATM machine and head to the little town on the coast called La Pesca.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Extra Day on The Road

Since we got started on our trip a day early we decided to visit Sabine National Forest in Texas on the border of Louisiana.  Its on Toledo Bend Reservoir, the fifth largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

At this time of year the beautiful campground was virtually empty. Big wooded sites for $4 per night. It's supposed to be one of the best Bass fishing lakes around. We could see why since the lake was down about 4', probably a winter drawdown, all you could see were trees in the lake.

We got to Houston after lunch to spend a few days with my cousin Rich Priem and his family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Road Again

As Willy Nelson sings we are "On the Road Again". We got packed up and took a look at the forecast for beautiful warm sunny weather heading to Houston, so we left at 6:15AM Wednesday morning. We got to our favorite Wal-Mart--Sam's club overnight stop in Jackson, TN on I-40.. They even have free Wi-Fi this year. We got here about 4:30 PM and had a burger at Steak & Shake.
We should arrive late Thursday in Houston, everything is running well and traffic was not too heavy. We will visit Rich & Tracey Priem and family for a few days before heading to the border city of Harlingen, TX, another Wal-Mart stop.

Here are some family pictures I took at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We leave Cleveland in one week.

Getting the RV cleaned up and checked out.
Found out that black water tank valve automatic actuator was intermittent, I ordered a new actuator from Phoenix, got it in a day at amost half the price of local RV dealer. I'll put in on in warmer weather when I need to dump.

My computer crashed this morning, Dell said that my warranty had just expired and it could cost as much as a new computer to repair it. So, I ordered a new laptop computer.
Then I renewed my warranty since I could still do that. Got a better help person who says maybe your memory needs to be pulled out and reinserted. Tried that and it worked like a charm, too bad there was no error message to that effect.

But now my computer works just fine and I can play with and configure my new laptop at my leisure. It is supposed to arrive by next Tuesday.

We hope to get on the road to Houston, TX early on Thursday the 11th.
I'll start posting more regularly now.

When we get to Mexico I'm going to try to see if I can get a Telcel Internet 3G stick for the computer. Last year my friends at Xpu-Ha all had one and they said the internet service was faster than the slow campground Wi-Fi. It costs about $40/month but it may give me better internet coverage. You can signup by the month, no long term contract.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We plan to head back to Mexico in November

We plan to head back to Mexico in November, see my Planning Map and Overall trip description with links to each segment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thinking about our 2010-2011 Winter Trip

Had a hot summer in Cleveland this year.
I got in lots of WW kayaking in WV
Peggy's only sister Bobbie passed away on July 5th after a long bout with Cancer.
Not much else going on here. Golf, Cut the grass, Kayak - repeat.
Planning a mystery play, train ride, dinner in the mountains of WV with friends this September.

Reading all about the drug wars in Mexico but the fact that all our previous trips to Mexico were so much fun, the weather so good, that we most likely will go again, leaving in mid November.

Peggy really enjoyed the Yucatan over the past two years so we will likely plan a trip similar to last year's.
We will start with La Pesca, head south to the Emerald Coast.
Stay at Catemaco and then maybe head back to Xcalak before heading north to Xpu-Ha.

If we hear from any of the friends we met over the past few years we could change our minds. We usually alter our plans as we travel and talk to others.

When I start getting some specific dates and routes I will post here and on our Mexico web pages.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back Home Again

We left the warm weather of Mexico and spent 6 days visiting my cousin Rich & Tracey and their three boys in Houston. I  helped set up a new Netbook for Tracey and watched their contractors totally re-landscape their back yard. Only got a chance to bike one day with Rich & Cade since the weather was on the cool & rainy side. Their youngest boy, Finn, is now one year old and is getting really big.

We left for Atlanta where the weather was nice and warm and dry for two days. I got a chance to touch-up a lot of rusty chipped paint on the RV from being too close to the ocean for so long. We stayed 9 days with Peggy’s sister Bobbie who is still recovering from her bout with cancer last year. Peggy helped get her house back in shape and I helped put a new bathroom sink in.

The weather in Atlanta then turned cold with lots of rain. The temperatures were below normal for this time of year. On Wednesday, we finally left early for Cleveland, which is a 12 hr drive in our RV from Atlanta. The weather was dry and the traffic was light. We made it home ay 6 PM and found that the weather in Cleveland was now warmer than Atlanta.

This will be my last blog for our winter trip. I will update our slide show for 2009-10 when I get the time. Now I have to clean up the RV and fix the kayak rack that got bent when the kayak hit a canopy at a Military checkpoint.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back to the good old USA

See Map13
We left the San Miguel campground early Saturday morning. It was MUCH easier getting out their gate than getting in. After a few back and forth's we were on our way at 8 AM. Traffic was light and the roads were good. I especially liked the new MX-101 south of Ciudad Victoria. The only narrow road now the whole way from the border to SMA is MX-80. It is only 30 mi long and the surface was fine. It was still early, so we stopped for the night at the huge Pemex at the intersection of MX-101/MX-180. We had a nice night sleep before leaving for the border at 6 AM.
When we were camped at Xpu-Ha we saw the nice patio rugs that Jerry and Claude had, the water drained right through and they looked a lot better than our blue tarp. They purchased them at a place called Top Hat in the Don-Wes Flea Market near Weslaco, TX. We thought it was only open on Sunday but found out that Top Hat was open every day. We decided to cross the border at Progreso since it was close to Donna, TX. We found out that the roads were torn up in Nuevo Progreso plus we had about a 20 min border wait. We like the Los Indios crossing much better, no town and good roads.
They make these mats to whatever size you needed. They sew up the edges and put in the grommets in about an hour or so. So we shopped the flea market and were on our way to our favorite restaurant the Long Horn Bar-BQ, 1/2 mi SE of TX-509 on US-77S marginal road in San Benita. This place has the best TX beef brisket and hot spicy bean soup anywhere. Cost is only $8 and they bring the all you can eat soup when they seat you. Service is super fast.
We spent the night at the Harlingen Wal-Mart, it has good security and is very quiet. We got a 6 AM start for Houston but got stopped for 30 minutes at the US security stop north of the border. We still got to Rich & Tracey’s home a little after noon. We will probably stay here until the weekend, then we will head to Peggy’s sister’s in Atlanta, GA.
We will head home after another week, If the snow ever stops falling in Cleveland .

Friday, February 26, 2010

San Miguel de Allende-You can’t go back

See Map12
Our trip is winding down and speeding up at the same time. It seems like we just left for Mexico and made a lot of new friends from all over the world. And all of the sudden we are talking about heading to the border and hurrying back to the good old USA.
SMA was one of the first places in Mexico that we visited in our RV 15 years ago. We enjoyed the town then and had heard that it was now very popular for North Americans who either moved here permanently or winter here each year. But, they are loving the town to death.
This little town can’t handle the crowds. The streets are extremely narrow and there are wall to wall cars. You walk down the narrow sidewalks and have to duck from getting hit by their sideview mirrors.
Why they don’t close half the roads and make it enjoyable place to stroll and shop is a mystery to me. They could use little cabs to get everyone around town. Now everyone seems to have a car and jams the streets each day to a standstill. It reminds me of Naples, FL in the high season. You can walk faster than the traffic moves. You have to walk so close to the buildings that you have no idea of whether the next door is a restaurant,  a store or someone's home. And to make matters worse they are building a huge condo complex only four blocks from the center of town.

However it is still a beautiful little town with a big cathedral on the zocalo (Park in town center). They have a really nice Artisan market in an enclosed walkway, which includes a flower, and vegetable markets.


We purchased some beaded art work from the boy on the left. He was a good negotiator, he got his price, closed the sale,  and carefully wrapped the  gift.

Pewter ware seems to be the big seller here. We must have looked at pewter in 10 stores or booths in the market, however it seemed to all be priced the same with the about the same inventory selection.

We leave tomorrow morning to get even closer to the border. Our only worry is whether we can get our RV out of this tiny campground. The street is narrow, the gate is narrow and our 26’ motor home almost didn’t make it into the park. Hopefully with lots of help and maneuvering we can make it out of San Miguel RV Park without damaging the RV. They said that 26’ RV’s could fit into the park but we have an extra long wheelbase and a huge turning radius.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Day in the Historic District of Puebla

How do you like this camper vehicle. It's a German tour group, 25 people can ride in the front and sleep in the little cubby holes in the back. They arrived in our camp about 6 PM and the sides open up into a large kitchen to feed the group tour. They pulled out early in the morning heading to Mexico City and an identical one pulled in with another group on Wednesday night.

We caught a bus on Wednesday morning with a couple of other couples from our campground to spend the day in the Historical District of Puebla. Only 5 pesos per person each way and it takes you near the center of town. Pueblo is the fourth largest city in Mexico but was very safe and friendly. After watching our bus maneuver through the narrow streets we were sure glad we camped in the suburbs. We walked to the Zocalo (Central city park) and saw these two tour buses but we were doing our own walking tour today.

Our first stop was the big cathedral right on the Zocalo. It was one of the biggest church’s we had visited. There must have been at least 10 separate altars, this was their main altar.

In the center of the cathedral is the bishops pulpit, it was really ornate.

We spent some time in their big Museum (Museo Amparo), they had rooms full of artifacts from Mexico's indigenous people from the last 2200 years. It was quite a display but I did not take any pictures in the museum. The whole area was filled with beautiful colonial buildings. Here are a couple that caught my eye.

We walked through the area they called the artisans market, mostly Talavera pottery and tourist stuff. One area was all paintings. It went on for several blocks.

There were beggars as in most big cities and some who at least entertained you for a few pesos.

We didn’t see our bus but a local couple asked if we needed help and took us to where we could catch a collectivo for the same 5 peso price, right back to our campground, The weather here was in the low 70’s F and lows each night were about 50o.

Las Americas trailer park is in a great location, friendly management, clean restrooms with hot showers. But after three nights we will head to San Miguel de Allende tomorrow. Peggy is starting to get anxious to get back to the cold USA.








Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visit Cholula’s Archeological Site

On Tuesday  we took a 20 minute walk from our campground to the center of Cholula and their archeological site.

     Cholula was an important city of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, dating back to at least the 2nd century BC. They built the Great Pyramid of Cholula which at first appears to be a natural hill surmounted by a church. Only a portion of the ruins have been excavated.

The temple-pyramid complex was built in four stages, starting from the 3rd century BC through the 9th century AD, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 1476x1476 ft) and a height of 217 ft. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at over 4.45 million m³, even larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt which is about 2.5 million m³.

It’s a steep hike up to the church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of the Remedies), which was built by the Spanish in colonial times (1594) on top of the site of a pre-Hispanic temple.

Great views of the volcanoes from on top of the pyramid. Popocatepetl on the left is the most active volcano in Mexico and last erupted in 1998.

The inside of the church is quite beautiful with lots of gold leaf, multiple alters and a beautiful dome

In the afternoon we cleaned off all the bugs we hit on our way though the large agricultural area on our way to Puebla. We plan to visit the historical city of Puebla tomorrow, there are buses & collectivos that go from near our campground to the city.