The Adventure 4

8 Sep

To put it mildly, the San Miguel RV park is difficult to find, and has no sign.  It took me 2 taxis, two policemen, and a night watchman to finally get there.  I don’t feel too bad, as Tioga George never did find it.  In the park were a couple from Texas going to Argentina, a “garbage truck” RV from Germany, a couple from Switzerland, and then a couple, I believe, from Belgium.  Truly an international representation.

San Miguel, with its large Gringo population, makes a good transition to Colonial Mexico.  It is an attractive town, I spent five days there, and the RV park has the best internet I have seen yet.  While there, I had a mechanic  tune the carb, and set the ignition for high altitude.  I would test it a few days later.

It was time to leave to leave for Guanajuato.  On the way, the mechanic had done his job.  I was going up hills 30mph faster, and finally was able to pass something faster than a farm tractor.  I finally had my 460 back.  Not wanting to make the same mistake I did last time, I stopped at Buganville RV park.  While there, I took the bus into town, and when I got off, a lady gave me a 10p coin.  I still don’t know why, but it was a nice welcoming gesture to Guanajuato.

I had spent 3 weeks in the RV, so decided to reward myself, and stay in a hotel.  Again, I did the tunnels and streets of Centro, but I knew where the hotel was, and they were having a special for 700p per night.  A little expensive, but at least they had parking, which is almost impossible to find in Guanajuato.  It is an absolutely beautiful city, clean, and the people are very friendly.  In five days did all the touristy things, and am placing it on my re-do list.

It was finally time to get on with my travels.  I had considered stopping in Leon, but is a large manufacturing city, and also stunk.  It reminded me of some of the paper mills back in Oregon.  So, up the road it was to Zacatecas.

The Adventure 3

4 Sep

The hotel has beautiful grounds and facilities.  The only problem is that being located on a hill next to the freeway, the sound of truckers using their jake-brakes made for a noisy evening.  I headed down to the Eduardo Ruiz park which was founded in 1938.  It is a beautiful park with many waterfalls, other water features, and lots of steps up and down.  It took me over an hour to walk the park.  I was finally able to use my INAPAM (old fart’s card), and got in for the children’s admission.

Then it was off to Patzcuaro, and the Villa Patzcuaro RV Park.  There were a French couple, and also a Danish couple in a new 4WD sprinter that was all diesel, including cooking.  I had heard that nearby Lake Zirahuen was good fishing, so headed over there.  While talking to locals I found out that was nothing but small whitefish.  As long as I was there, I decided to drive the brick and cobblestone road that surrounded the lake.  Some of the residents along the lake seemed surprised, or at least curious about my drive.  I did make it across a 3 foot ditch, so all was well, and back to camp.

If in Patzcuaro, it is obligatory you go to Janitzio Island.  Once you get off the boat, in front of you are a series of steep steps leading directly up the hill.   On each landing, and along the climb, there are vendors selling various items.  After about 10 minutes of uphill climbing, I noticed some locals taking a side road.  I followed that to the top, where there was a nice restaurant and park.  I’d had it for climbing for the day, so didn’t go in the statue.  On the way down, I passed an old church, and the local graveyard.

So much for Patzcuaro, and off to my next stop, Morelia.  In taking the periferico, I was given the choice of Salmanca or Toluca, so headed up North to Guanajuato.  I had thought about bagging Morelia anyway, as it was not high on my list of summer choices.

Once in Guanajuato, I did the city streets, the tunnels, and while looking for the RV park in the northern part of the city, ended up on the narrow, and extremely steep road to Dolores Hidalgo.  The Church’s book advises against doing this in a RV, but the scenery up and over the mountains was breathtaking, as I was climbing at about 10mph.  I wish there was room to pull off and take some pictures.  Once I topped out, it was not that far to San Miguel, and the San Miguel RV Park and Tennis Courts, which is where this part 3 ends.  It looks like my circular route of Colonial Mexico will look more like a donut

The Adventure 2

24 Aug

I have ben in Hacienda Contreras RV Park for 6 days, and tomorrow will head out for Zamora, and nearby Lake Camecuaro, where I hope to boondock for a day or twod.  This is a beautiful park located in the hills, and the area is green and lush, with a view of the surrounding hills.  The owners, Barb & Sal, are fantastic, and very willing to help with anything you need.  If you’re ever in the area, this is a “must do”.  The road to the park is pretty bumpy, but it will awake you for the experience that is Hacienda Contreras.

This has been Ford week, Fix Or Repair Daily.  Took the rig to an electrical repair place, and the replaced two headlights, straightened out the gas tank problem, hooked up the driving lights, fixed the running lights, and correctly wired up the house batteries.  The bill came to $950mx.

The next day had the brakes fixed.  The backs were OK, but the front rotors needed resurfacing, and new pads installed.  Once again, the bill was $950mx.  Wow, at the current rate of exchange, that is only $72.00US.  Rode into Mazmitla with the owner to pick up some parts, but was raining heavily, so didn’t see much of the town.  It is a quaint village, but unfortunately, is being ruined by rich Mexicans from Guadalajara.

Barb and Sal went to pick up some fresh milk from a dairy, so rode along with them.  I haden’t milked a cow since I was a little squirt, and that is a good description of my performance.  The cow seemed to have this get with it already look, so I bowed out to better hands.  A nice drive to the end of the lake, and through a village, and it was back to  the ranch, so I could get my s__t to gether for a Saturday departure.

Headed out for Zamora and Lake Camecuaro.  I had good directions, but did I follow them, Not.  Had a great time driving through the hills and quaint towns.  In the process, I managed to drive down two dead end streets and played chicken with a tour bus.  Needless to say, I got off the road before he forced me to back up three blocks.  Finally arrived at the lake, and is it fantastic.  They have six levels of parking, plus a bus area, so anyone can get in there.  The park closes at dark, due to rowdy and drunken behavior.  They allow tent camping, but no vehicles in the park after dark.  There is even a nice hotel on site, with it’s own balanario. Walked by the lake, took some pictures, and called it a night.

The worker bees started showing up, so decided it was time to head for Uruapan.  Had a nice drive up and down the green hills,  There had been some trouble in a town along the way, so had police stationed at each end.  It was Sunday, which is market day for many towns, so some streets were blocked, and it seemed like everyone in town was walking somewhere.  It was afternoon, when I pulled into Hotel Pie de la Sierra.  As far as accommodations go, I had gone from the outhouse to the penthouse in one day.  Well, that’s the end of part 2.

The Adventure

7 Aug

We’re locked, loaded, and ready to rock and roll.  The travelling road show, aka “Memo & Das Panzer”, launches tomorrow.  I’ll miss Mazatlan and its people, but time to get out of the rut, and visit new people and places, while enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of Mexico that I’ve only read about.

I made it to Ajijic.  Have a small apartment up in the hills, with lots of greenery, birds, and even fireflies.  The weather is much cooler, and a nice breeze.  Had a rough trip up, as a chair fell out of the overhead, and took a chunk out of my arm.  The doctors who fixed it were hilarious.  I also discovered that the switch between gas tanks disappeared, so am stuck with only one tank, and in running it almost dry, sucked some dirt into the carb.  I went up some hills at 10 mph.  If I don’t get that fixed, the high elevation parts of my trip are out, and I most certainly won’t make it to Zacatecas.  So, thus far, my great adventure is not starting out well.  My plans are to work on the RV, and just chill out for a couple of weeks.  And, just to complete the day, I am in apartment #13

There was a party scheduled for Saturday, and the motel was full with young Mexicans.   I met the ones in the apartment next to mine, and joined a party of about six.  They were fascinated by Das Panzer, and were posing for photos next to it.  One gal was doing some pretty sexy moves next to her boyfriend, and I pointed at the RV and said “cama”, which I guess would be  the equivalency of “Get a room”.   That caused a roar from the crowd, and the party went on.

I decided to take a cab down the hill and check out the music in several recommended establishments.  La Taska had a violin and guitar duo.  Not my kind of music.  I walked up the hill to Number 4.  They had a guitar player and saxophonist playing Cole Porter music.  Not.  I walked up the hill to the highway, and heard some interesting music.  The DJ was playing rock & roll, and lo and behold, a band started setting up.  El Barco is my kind of place.  It became rather late, and all the cabbies had their phones turned off.  I forgot that they roll up the sidewalks at 10:00.  Fortunately, Carlos, the owner, was able to wake someone up, and I got back to the ranch.

After spending a week on a hill in Ajijic, with little or no internet, I moved on to a B&B on Lake Chapala.  It is truly beautiful, and they have cleaned up the lake since my last visit.  Spent the  night at the Beer Garden, as one of the bands I’m friends with on Facedbook, The Tall Boys, were playing.  At least they play until 11:00.  I spoke with one of the wives, bought a CD, and it turns out her son plays in the band at El Barco.  I should have requested they play my theme song, If you wanna get to heaven, you gotta raise a little hell.  There is an old saying that when in a new place, “Make peace with the police”.  I did, and they got a kick out of my shirt from Chiahuahua with an old Tamaharan Indian doing a doobie.  One of them had a pair of  compact night vision binoculars by Pentax.  I love their cameras, so might check it out later.

Went to breakfast, but only had the fruit plate, not the full deal meal.  The cook was upset, as she thought something must be wrong with me.  I explained to Alicia that I’m gordo, but don’t each much.  I promised to have the bacon and eggs the next morning, so everything was cool.  I spent the day wandering around, and taking lots of pictures.  The evening was answering emails, writing on the blog, and uploading pictures.  Who knows when I’ll get that good an internet connection again.

Breakfast went well this time, and my table mates were two nice Mexican couples from Guadalajara,  I wandered around again taking pictures, and then it was time to leave the lap of luxury to become a RV’er again.  I have met alot of people, made some friends, including, as George would say, “Mr Telephone Pole”.  I know it was male, as my spare tire cover has been penetrated,

I headed around the lake, and up the hills to Hacienda Contreras.  On the way, I passed through a town that was having a fiesta, with music and many in national clothing.  I’d like to have stayed to take pictures, but it was getting late.  The road was narrow, but made even worse by cars parked on the side.  After waiting some time for oncoming traffic, I decided to do my best imitation of a Mexican driver, and pulled out.  I knew the guy in the new Jeep didn’t want to play chicken with Das Panzer.  Made it to the park, and after a good conversation with the owners, settled in.  Sal will take care of some needed work next week.  So, this is the end of Chapter 1.

The Route

2 Aug

My travel plans may be a little optimistic, but I won’t be returning to Mazatlan until December.  The trip should be about 5,000 miles, with the option of lopping off Chiapas, if time runs short.  I can always pick it up next year, when I plan to visit the Yucatan.

The Decision

29 Jul

The past five years, I have wintered in Mexico, and always returned to Oregon for the summer and fall months.  This year, I’ve decided to become  a full-timer, and not return to the US.  The problem with living in Mazatlan year around is that weather wise, August and September are brutal, so to remain in Mexico, I would need to find somewhere cooler for those months.  This blog will not be fancy, but then neither  am I.  It will be about the search for the perfect place, or places, to escape the summer heat and humidity.

My traveling companion will be a 1987 camper van, affectionately known as “Das Panzer”.  In the course of my travels, I will be posting photos here: