Mexico 62, 26th July 2004

I didn't have a lot of luck with the cruise control. After a lot of checking the mechanic told me the problem was in the control box which he couldn't fix and which needed replacing. To temporarily jump forward a day, I asked at a Ford main dealer if they had the part, they said no, they didn't make them any more, the vehicle was too old. It's 1988. So I'll now need to look for a copy. Or a cleverer electrician who can fix the box. Whist a day into the future, I'll mention I've now found an upholsterer to sew up my drivers seat.

The front of the garage was stacked up with American cars. They were mostly visiting the lakeside supermarket which specialises in catering for foreigners, some were at the next door butcher who at my glance seems to have learned how to butcher meat. All spoke English all the time to everyone, just about all the men were wearing shorts - the locals do not wear shorts. There is a big local foreign community. With a local website 
also a free very well produced monthly colour newspaper . The British Society meets the 1st Saturday of the month by the way, the Canadian Club 2nd Wednesday of the month but only September to May. So Jerry, they don't clash, you'll be able to visit both when you get here. There's good looking houses to rent from around $400 per month, somewhere to live while you look around. There's loads of other societies to keep the oldies occupied. (Hey I'm one of them. I guess Jerry is too!)

I couldn't parked anywhere near the local town plaza. All the area was full of cars, many foreign, in any case the plaza looked full to the brim, probably expatriates taking in the Mexican lifestyle. And why not? It's cheaper living here, so pensions go further, and it's a nice temperate climate.

I followed round the north coast of Lake Chapala, a mistake since the road fizzled out into a dirt track. It's marked on the map as a paved road. There was one spot with a super view of the lake. Here's a picture of the road.

But about 20 km later I got back to paved road and continued along. I noticed a town called La Barca so I had to visit, with a name like that, and parked up for the night near the plaza.

It was not interesting driving yesterday afternoon and today. Muggy weather, bad visibility, no mountains near of any note, and alongside the roads just fields of stuff, maize mostly. I got to Irapuato and asked the way to Sam's Club. A young man said he'd take me. He was at a bus stop, I presumed he wanted to go in that direction. He got lost twice, I'd have done better on my own. After about 10 minutes we found Sam's Club and the young man demanded US$5 for guiding me. I said no way, not $5, I'll take you back to where I picked you up. On the road he pulled a knife on me and said give me US$5 so I did a quick circle in the road and pulled into the guarded entrance to some private houses. The guard came out, the knife disappeared! Eventually, when I threatened to call the police, he accepted 20 pesos - around $2. I would have given him 10 pesos ($1) as tip if he hadn't asked for anything. I could have avoided the whole thing if I'd given him his $5 but this way he won't be so keen to rip off a tourist again. After taking the $2 when he got out of the van he picked up my reading glasses from the dashboard and took off at high speed. When he realised that I could run as fast as he could, and that I was really angry, he stopped and gave the glasses back. It's not a typical example of Mexico, this sort of thing can happen anywhere, and anywhere else they would probably want more than $5!!

So when I went back to Sam's Club it cost me an extra 5 pesos tip to the car park man to keep an eye on my van in case angry young man returned!

And after all that, I didn't buy anything. I did notice on our roundabout travels to Sam's Club a sign to panorama area so I returned and followed that. They are laying the roads for a housing estate, no houses yet, but superb views over the city.

In Guanjuato I looked at a campsite with space for over 100 rigs. Not a one there! So I moved on to a smaller (and cheaper!) campsite near the centre of the city where I settled. No one else here either. There's space for little cat to go out and play.

I'm reading a travelogue somewhat similar to mine
written in 1999 in which they mentioned they stayed 2 months at Lake Chapala in August, they said they stayed because of good company, whilst I did not intend to stay that long it sounded a good recommendation. After I left the area I found an alternative camp site, listed on the internet, just round the corner from the one that has shut. Maybe everyone is there. Maybe there is no one there! Certainly, I'm sure the people I saw around the store were more or less permanently there in the area not RVers.

I walked down to Guanjuato centre, 15 minutes from the trailer park if you walk through the tunnel, I climbed the steps to go over the top. On the way I encountered a dance session. I didn't get a good picture, the man with his back to us is dressed as a bull, all the other dancers wore masks, some playing the part of horse riders wore a belt with a small model of the front end of a horse attached at the front of the belt, and the back end of a horse attached to the back of the belt.

There was no sense in taking the van, apart from the fact there is absolutely nowhere to park, a good portion of the city road system is underground so there's not a lot to see when you are driving. There is even a ring road which is almost entirely underground. Most of the city is built on the sides of a ravine and many of the surface roads are too narrow for my van. The buses are OK they know where they are going. The city was built here because of silver mines, for 250 years Guanjuato produced 20% of the world's silver. And the underground roads started because the river used to flood, so they dropped the level and put it underground. Then they put it lower underground and used the previous river course as a roadway.

All this underground road stuff means they have not needed to mess with any buildings on the surface and many beautiful buildings remain.

The theatre is just off the main plaza, which is quite small, there is not room for anything bigger.

High over the city is the statue of an independence hero.

I climbed up there by the furnicular. From the top there is a super view over the city. I redescended by foot, there was a huge queue for the lift. So I've got a spare return ticket for the furnicular if anyone wants one.

I redescended by foot, there was a huge queue for the lift. So I've got a spare return ticket for the furnicular if anyone wants one. It's quite a walk up hill to get back to the trailer park so I took a taxi.

It's a nice place Guanjuato, there's lots of places to see, I think I'll stay here another day, maybe two. Tomorrow I'll drive around the panoramic road and call in to visit some outlying spots, the next day finish my walk around the centre of town.

Oh, the answer to Jerry's question about what happens to the cat when I go back. As the politicians say, I already made my position clear on that one. See Mexico 57 paragraph 9 line 2.

Best regards

David Barker

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