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.







Monday, February 22, 2010

Not ready for Prime Time

See Map11

We got a nice early start from Bacalar on Sunday morning, we left with sunrise at 6 AM and drove 430 mi and stopped at 3:30 PM. The drive was fairly easy with light traffic. We went past 5 army inspection points but only got stopped once and it was very quick.

We decided to try for Rancho Hermanos Graham campground which had reputedly reopened with a new bath with hot showers and full hookups. It’s right behind a Pemex on the freeway near Aqua Dulce. We found the gate unlocked and we were signaled that the campground was in the back a good distance from the road noise.

We saw the new shower, it was nicely built with electric heater heads, only problem was there was no water. A few drips and the toilets wouldn’t flush. But they had toilet paper and towels. We looked at the campsites, no electricity and maybe a sewer drain. We found a couple of 110v, 15 amp outlets but they were ungrounded so for me to use first I would need to get out 70’  power cord and bury a ground stake. I said for overnight, it wasn’t worth the effort.

Of course they came to collect, they asked for 250 pesos, I laughed, for boondocking with no services? I offered 100 pesos but ended up paying 200 when the millions of mosquitoes hit, no time to discuss just get in the RV. Of course about 50 mosquitoes followed me in.

A little boy walked by, all excited, he says there is an alligator in the swimming pool. That’s probably the source of all the mosquitoes also.

At dusk 4 other RV’s rolled in and discovered what we had just gone through. Didn’t get a chance to talk to them as we pulled out a 7AM, after a good nights sleep with not that much road noise. But out of 10, we give the campground a 2. We heard that it’s under new ownership, so maybe they are just learning, but they were not quite ready for campers yet.

Our destination today is Las Americas campground in Cholula just outside of Puebla. It’s at 7000’ altitude with several snow covered peaks nearby. Today’s drive was all Quotas (turnpikes). Cost a lot but with light traffic we got to camp by 1:30PM even after missing the turn for Cholula which had a sign different then we expected. A few miles down the road we did a returno and easily found the turn and the campground.

La Americas campground has very nice full hookup sites with HOT showers for 250 pesos. Our first really hot shower in 7 weeks, We did a little grocery shopping, got connected to the free wireless internet to get my e-mails and post my blog. Tomorrow we hope to visit the largest Pyramid in the Americas. Pictures to follow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few days at Laguna Bacalar

See Map10
After our long stay at Xpu-Ha it was sad to say goodbye to all the good friends we made. But we needed to start heading toward home, even though we were actually heading South.

We got an early start which got us to Laguna Bacalar at noon. The campground, Balneario Cocalitos, is nothing more than a grassy area next to the Lake of seven colors. No power, no water, no sewers but it has seat less bucket flush toilets.

The only other camper here was Vito from Minn., USA. He met him here and in one other campground last year. He likes the quiet little camp run by a family in a little house on the property. For what they have to offer the nightly rate is a little high, 150 pesos. We saw 4 other campers drive up look it over and after hearing the price they left. We finally negotiated a price of 400 pesos for 3 nights, still too high. They seem to cater to people who come for the day to swim in the turquoise blue lake. The lake has deposits of Calcium Carbonate that gives it the blue color. As the sun and clouds move around the lake changes to several different shades of blue which I guess is why the Spanish called it the  Laguna de Siete Colores, it is the second largest lagoon in Mexico.

The weather is still cool with lows around 60o F and highs in high 70’s. Friday afternoon was a little rainy but I had a nice long paddle on the lake Saturday morning. Our next destination is Cholula just outside Pueblo. It will take us at least two days to get there heading due West. There is no internet nearby so I’m not sure when I will be able to post this blog.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fat Tuesday – Night of the dog people

Dave & Roz from Ontario who are dog lovers and volunteer at the Peanut Pet Shelter invited most of the campers to a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party at the Luna Blue Hotel in Playa del Carmen, click for videos of the beautiful jungle like hotel lobby.

Tony Head, the owner, generously offered to cook up Jambalaya (chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice, tomatoes, celery, and spices) for everyone who would donate 50 pesos to support the pet shelter. I loved the spicy dish, Peggy felt it was too spicy for her.

Chris, the guitar player, entertained everyone in the beautiful sunken garden cenote setting with the with water splashing over the nearby waterfalls. They handed out beads to complete the Mardi Gras party. I wish we would have brought our camera but if you play the video link above, you will get some idea of what the place and the party were like.

This was actually our going away party since we are leaving tomorrow (Thursday) morning to head South to Bacalar our last stop on the Costa Maya. We really enjoyed our long stay here. It is the longest that we have ever camped in one location. I’m sure the beautiful beach and friendly RV’rs had something to do with that.

Claude, Maggie from Ontario, Me & Peggy

Ann & Jerry from Ontario
Last week our Swiss neighbors Theo & Ursula left to go to their new home they purchased on the Yucatan coast west of Progresso.

It was a fast 6 weeks and we will miss all of our new found friends back at Xpu-Ha.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another week - We are still at Xpu-Ha

The weather really got nice here, we’ve been getting lots of walks on the beautiful beach.

The 1-1/2 mi long beach is really beautiful and clean. The white sands keeps moving around, so some days it’s really wide and then when the wind is blowing hard from the East it gets much narrower. But the sand is firm and easy to walk on. We like to walk all the way to one end where a large hotel went out of business after a big hurricane, so the beach has very few people. There are old palapas that provide a nice shady resting spot.

Peggy’s Hideaway
All the campers that were here when we came last month are still here, a couple more fit into to a few spaces off to the side in the palm trees. Friday night is still pizza night when half the camp drives to their favorite little pizza place, Leo’s in Chemuyil.
We watched the Super Bowl last night on local TV in our camper. It was all in Spanish and so snowy that we could barely see the picture but we still enjoyed the exciting game. We will probably stay for one more week before we start moving South and then West, yes this gets us closer to home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bad News – Good News

Bad news – It’s been rainy for the last 3 days
Good news - Only rains at night and a few brief afternoon showers
Bad news – It’s only in high 70’s
Good news – At least we are not back in cold Cleveland, OH
Bad news – I got a Urinary Tract Infection
Good news – You don’t need a prescription for antibiotics in MX
Bad news – It sure laid me low for a few days
Good news – It was when it was rainy and cool
Bad news – Where did the time go, it's February already
Good news – I feel like I'll be back on the beach today.

We decided to take our time when we start North this year, unlike when an emergency caused us to drive 2600 mi in 6 days (53 driving hours) to Atlanta, GA.

We are thinking of heading up near the biggest volcanoes in MX near Puebla, then taking the newest Cuota (turnpike) in MX the Arco Norte which is a very far east Mexico city bypass. We would then stop at San Miguel de Allende which is a colonial city very popular location for North American visitors. When we finish that area we will probably head to Ciudad Victoria heading back toward the East TX border crossing. Haven't worked out a schedule, will play it by ear.

Miss everybody back home but probably won’t make it back to Cleveland by March 15th.