Mexico 39, 25th May 2004

In the morning I wandered around to look at a small cove close to my parking spot.

I watched a humming bird flitting around the red flowers and a cat with 2 grown up kittens exploring the cliff side.

Then I found the computer shop and bought a cleaner for the lens on my CD writer. It seemed to pull out a lot of dust but so far has not improved the disk writing, it crashes part way through. I'm currently trying again, I've reduced the writing speed from 24x to 8x, we'll see what happens. I also bought a small headset so I can listen to my music directly off the computer. I also thought it might get Sod's law working in my favour. "If something can go wrong, it will go wrong in the worst possible way". Well the worst thing that can happen now is that the writer works. Then I will have wasted my money on the headset!!!

I've had some problems with the engine stalling when it's running at idling speed. This is the speed the engine runs when I'm slowly going down a steep hill. It's somewhat disconcerting at this time to find that power assistance to both brakes and steering has suddenly disappeared. Oooops! So I stopped by a workshop claiming to be specialist in petrol injection. There were only 2 bays, in one bay 4 mechanics were working on one engine. They seemed to know what they were doing. I watched for a while, while my mechanic was rapidly stripping air cleaners and other pipework. I don't really know what he was doing. At one time he had a small crow bar wedged in the middle of the engine and was hitting it with a large hammer. I retired inside the van to read my emails expecting a long job.

I'd hardly finished reading before he was telling me, it's done. Sure enough it was ticking over sweetly, not "hunting" at all. (hunting =going fast then slow). It's now 100 miles later, the engine has not even shown a sign of stalling. And it has been sounding much sweeter and pulling better. Now those of you who have been with me a while may remember, and I've mentioned it a couple of times since, that in Tucson I had the same problem, and it cost me $750 to get it fixed. Today $9. (100 pesos) I know I like Mexico.......................

The disk didn't work. Obviously I had not spent enough on the headset to make throwing it away a disaster. I examined the tracks, there were variations of intensity. It's supposed to be all even.

You know, one of the fun things about writing like this is you can go back and add bits. Well, I've just gone back from what is in this account, tomorrow, and can say, I've got a disk to work! I wound back the writing speed to 4 times, the slowest it will go, and ate lunch. And it works! That's disk 1. I'll try disk 2 tomorrow. That's tomorrow as I write this, day after tomorrow in the time sequence of these notes. Shades of Strartrek!

I started heading towards Acapulco but pulled in, I realised I hadn't done a lot of forward planning. One of my guide books lists Acapulco as one of the things it likes least about Mexico, alongside bins for used toilet paper in the toilets - Mexicans think it clogs the drains. I was now sweltering so returned the short distance to Puerto Escondidas for a quick swim. One nice thing about the heat, you never need bother with a towel.

Then I headed on the 200 towards Acapulco again. again. After a few hours there was a small town to the left, I've parked between the church and the plaza. So far it's not very quiet, I think all the town's youths, plus a few more, are playing football on the concreted basketball pitch. It'll get better. Meanwhile I'll go get emails. Amazingly, there is an internet cafe here.

In the morning at 7 am a female voice came on over the village loudspeakers and talked, in a chanting sort of way, for about 30 minutes, then came back a few minutes later with another couple of sentences. I don't know whether she was exhorting everyone to go to church (the church here is less decorated and less full of seats than others I have seen), whether she was instructing them to start the day well and work harder, or whether she was just reading the news.

The Mexicans are superbly friendly. In the countryside, and in the tourist areas, people will look at the van, recognise it as being foreign, and often wave. If I beat them to it, and wave first then I almost invariably get a wave back, usually accompanied by a huge Mexican smile! They also have a way of taking best advantage of what they have. On the beaches, few of the older adults have swimming costumes, they just go into the sea in what appears to be almost normal clothes. I've seen a lot of people just sitting on the edge of the beach, being washed over by the waves from time to time, just sitting there bemused. Others are playing, splashing around like kids. I suspect it is the first time they have seen the sea, and are here on a day trip. If so, what a wonderful experience for them to finally get to see the sea!

A large part of the transport here, certainly the cheaper transport, is pickup trucks with a big frame around the back, so they can get more people in, standing. Youths like to travel standing on the back bumper or sitting on top of the cab. They get more out of the trip that way. But almost everyone is standing, or looking forward, taking all advantage they can of the journey. Somewhat different to the commuters I have seen on the buses or trains in the UK, who often sit just looking blankly into the distance.

In the main, Mexicans have almost nothing. But they enjoy what they have got to the full.

I mentioned that the van is recognised as being foreign. No RV's are imported into Mexico, and there are huge restrictions on importing an RV from the US. In 3 months I have seen only one Mexican RV, and that was home made, converted from an old car, and boy, was the owner proud of it!

A few miles down the road I stopped to look around Santiago Pinetopa Nacional and to shop for supplies. I thought of heading to the beach for a dip before I headed north on the 125 but it's about a 30 mile round trip, I'm not really a beach person, and I've probably already seen more Mexican beaches than most people. I slowly headed north and stopped in the small town of Putla. It is a maze of narrow streets but I finally managed to park in the plaza, right in front of the police station, and checked with a nearby policeman. It's OK to rest here for the night.

As I write these notes, dusk is falling. One of the policemen standing guard by the police station wandered over and closed two circuit breakers on the edge of the plaza. The lights around the plaza came on. Don't knock the system, it works!

Best regards

David Barker

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