Mexico 29, 5th May

It rained again during the night but not so heavily as before. There was still a lot of low cloud but nonetheless I decided to move on from Agua Azil. I've been here 3 nights now, the waterfalls are very pretty,

but 2 and a bit days is enough, and the batteries in my van are getting low, I need to drive to recharge them. Another couple arrived last night, Robin and Stockwell, they've been travelling a year now, in a Jeep, on the way to Panama, only another year left they say. But I have to call by if I am ever in Seattle where Stockwell has a house. I gave Tawny a lift down, or rather up, to the main road, she's going into Palenque for the day, shopping and such like. She's says she's going to email her Mum the digital photos I took of her yesterday, since it's 8 months since she was home! She'll catch a minibus to Palenque and back, I'm heading the other way.

I only got about 30 miles and the engine stopped. I could see smoke coming from some wiring around the motor and guessed it was an electrical fault. After a little while a taxi stopped and asked if he could help. Well, I didn't understand a word, but I guessed that was what he was saying. I said "mecanico electrico" (I'd seen it written on roadside workshops) and with signal he indicated he would send one from the next town. Next two guys in a truck stopped and wanted to tow me into the town. We tied on a tow rope but then the mechanic arrived so we untied the rope and they left, refusing to take any money.

The mechanic fiddled for a while, he seemed to know what he was doing, he found something wrong, and said he had to take it back to his workshop to fix. When he returned he had two more guys with him who I guessed were the local red hot experts because they took over and he watched. Eventually the engine burst into life. Total time about 3 hours, total cost 800 pesos. I reckoned that included the tip so what they got was 800 pesos. I've no idea what they did.

After they left I noticed the temperature gauge had stopped working. The wire had probably burned out with the others that had melted insulation. I drove into the town but didn't spot their workshop. I'll get it fixed some other time. I noticed an internet cafe and sent emails. Almost wished I hadn't, I had great trouble getting the connection to work and when it did it went like snail. Anyway, now I'm in San Cristobal de las Casas where I was headed originally. I've been here before and I'm parked up in the same spot under a street lamp outside a Corona (beer) distribution centre. Funny. I haven't had a beer all day! Started tonight with a home made margarita (only last night Tawny said my margarita was the best she'd ever tasted!) followed by a Mexican wine which is surprisingly good.

The scenery on the road from Palenque to San Cristobal is some of the best I've seen. Even with the low cloud it was impressive but I remember the magnificence of the views when I came down. I parked in the same spot that I parked in when I passed here before.

It rained during the night and was almost cold. I wandered around, visited the market, again, took pictures of the cathedral

and a church

and another church which I later drove up to. There's a lot of steps..........

I bought a superb coffee table book on the Mayan cities and yet another guide book,(I now have 6!), did my laundry (well, actually someone else did it, I just paid, 90 pesos for 9 kg) I did some shopping, reorganised my drinking water system, wandered around some more, went to the market, visited a jade museum with a superb replica of Pakal's tomb as it would have looked at the time of his death, surrounded by over 1000 jade items, (Pakal was the famous king from Palenque whose tomb I visited), I climbed some steps to another church, spoke to a German couple Mila and Markus who have spent a year cycling south from Vancouver and plan to continue for another year, checked emails and bank statements, by now it was dark and I drove up to the church on top of the hill to admire the view. I'll hardly been there a couple of minutes before 2 policemen checked me out, I wandered back to my van, then a police car stopped, and I was advised again that this viewpoint was a tourist area, not safe to be in at night.

I drove back to my previous spot, remembered it was very noisy with traffic this morning and deciding I would err on the side of safety and went to look for the secure parking that I had tried to find last time I was here. This time I found it, I'm parked safely for the night, and it's cost me 20 pesos.

I've got a theory why the wires burned out. When I had the welding repair made on the propane support I noticed the guy disconnected the battery presumably to save any shorting out. I thought this was the main battery but I've now realised it was the supplementary. So the electric welding was done with the battery connected, this might have caused some shorting out and the subsequent electrical failure.

The fridge is working fine now that it's a touch cooler. But I noticed one interesting thing when I was having the problems. It seemed to work when I was parked on an uphill slope but when I was on a slight downhill it did not work so well. Normally I would park down hill, if there was a slope, because that suits my sleeping arrangements, I prefer to have my head higher than my feet. But I have no idea why the fridge should work better when inclined one way rather than the other.

Best regards

David Barker

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