Mexico 46, 15th June 2004

We were up at 5:30 watching them sort balloons. Nohemi asked would I like to fly? Well, yes, of course, but I didn't want to take a space up. No problem apparently, a quick change of basket and envelope, and we were driving to the launch site. They launched a couple of 180's, with around 8 people in each, then we followed, 4 up in a 73,000 cu ft, with pilot Margarita, who it turned out has been a pilot around 15 years, and, yes, she can fly a balloon.

And the crew can handle balloons too. They worked on the first balloon, moved to the second, then ours. Just like they'd done it all before.............

Now last night, to make sure I could take souvenir photos for the girls, I put the battery from my camera on the charger. Guess who forgot to put it back in the camera. Duh! So you'll just have to take my word for it, that it was a beautiful morning, with touches of mist around in the distance, with the odd taller trees etc showing through, lending a whimsical touch to it all, that we were flying over small but deep valleys with jagged rocks lining the sides. A beautiful morning and a beautiful flight over beautiful terrain.

The retrieve was there before we landed, we were back for a wonderful breakfast at the hacienda. Now I was able to sing for my supper, so to speak. The balloon we flew is their newest, 3 months old, only 30 hours, and really very well made, with very strong fabric, but I had noticed the rip was very hard to pull, it took two people to pull it. I was able to give them a very simple easy to install improvement that would reduce the pull by 50%. You remember they have made all their own balloons here on site? They are all well made. But I was also able to suggest some simple and cheap to install improvements to some of burners and fuel systems, the burners themselves I thought to be really well made. For those that don't know, for 5 years I was responsible for the technical safety of all balloons made or flown in the UK, so I have had a bit of experience in looking at these things!

We were then taken out to a local beauty spot. All included in the price. Hey if anyone reading this is in Mexico city at some time give them a call, they give you a really good balloon weekend for next to nothing. Contact Sabrina who speaks English passably well or her Mum Anyway this is where we went.

This beauty spot visiting meant we only arrived back at Horst and Cristina's place about 4 pm just in time for their early dinner at 5 pm. Well, I thought it appropriate to open one of my remaining bottles of champagne that I had brought from France, to celebrate the girls first flight, and my first flight in Mexico.

In the morning I finally managed to drag myself away from this wonderful house and wonderful hospitality from Horst and Cristina. Certainly, when I get a house, they will be welcome to visit, any time.

I headed down to Teotihuacan to see the ruins. The pyramids are big. This is the pyramid of the moon.

And this is the pyramid of the sun, with, straight ahead, the Avenue of the Dead. This avenue is 2 miles long, lined with temples either side.

I walked the length of the avenue and back. This whole city is huge, one of the largest I have visited, certainly it has the largest number of restored sites. Although, sadly, there has been an enormous amount of restoration work, almost all that you can readily see is restoration. On all the sites I have visited, the sections that are restored are clearly marked, so you can see what is original, and what is not. Here there is some original sections that have been excavated and you can see how steps etc were all covered with stucco.

This is some original painting.

Here you can see restoration work, to the top right, above the painting, the mortar between the large building stones has small stones inset, this is to show it as restoration.

Walking up and down the avenue took time, by the time I got to the museum they told me it was closed. Drat!

I have a camp site listed in the town and decided to stay there. I found it, the gate looked pretty well closed, so I drove on the next gate, that was even more firmly shut. So I drove round the block to hammer on the first gate, to see if there was anyone there. Just before the campsite there was a car park, 5 pesos. While driving round the block I thought I would ask if I could park there for the night. Sure I was told, no problem, but we lock the gate at 10 pm. That's OK with me! While talking to the car park man a bunch of kids walked up, could they film an interview with me for school! Sure, so we struggled through an interview in English.

I plan to visit the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City tomorrow but am a bit apprehensive about driving there. I have heard and read too many reports of police there demanding money. I have read in guide books that $50 is often demanded, under threat of delaying you on some trumped up charge. Another book says you will always be stopped. I have been told, whilst I have been in Mexico, that the figure is now $200 and they don't care if you just paid $200 to another policeman. I have been told that one Mexican national, driving an American car, is stopped so often now he just stops in the middle of the highway and the police give up because they daren't get out of their cars in the traffic. I was stopped myself on the way down, on the outskirts of Mexico city, for no reason whatsoever, by policemen who didn't speak English. They borrowed my dictionary and pointed to the word "prison" but when I obviously had no idea what they were talking about, they gave up. I was asked for, and paid, a bribe in Cancun, but I am not complaining about that too much, I did shoot some traffic lights albeit inadvertently. That is about the only thing I have against Mexico, the crooked policemen in the major cities, looking to scam foreign tourists in foreign registered cars. What a shame that it should be police, usually so helpful, that are the problem.

Best regards

David Barker

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