Mexico 63, 28th July 2003

I did drive around the panoramic road around Guanjuato. It's a long road, around 25 Km (15 miles) total, winding in and out of ravines about on the edge of the city limits. It's a fascinating road, passing abandoned mine workings, I believe at one time there were around 150 mines in the area, so there is a few to be spotted. All along the road there are superb views of Guanjuato and, strangely for Mexico, stopping points at the best viewpoints. Usually, as I've mentioned, in Mexico there is almost nowhere to stop on the roads. The are no field entrances to pull into, there are no fields, and few tractors to make an entrance necessary. There no verges to pull onto, at times I've driven miles and miles until I can find somewhere to stop even for a few seconds, say to get a bottle of water from the back, or to pick up a map that has fallen out of reach.

On the way around I visited the museum of mummies. That was macabre. The city cemetery is small so if relatives do not continue to pay rental charges the bodies are exhumed and either reburied elsewhere or cremated. Due to the mineral content of the soil though the bodies are actually mummified and 119 of the more "interesting" have been saved and put on display. Yuk! I didn't take any photos. There was a dozen or so children including the "smallest mummy in the world", an obviously pregnant female, and a male who judging by his mummified remains had private parts almost reaching down to his knees. I went to a bull fight years ago in Spain. Same reaction. Glad I went, but I don't want to go again!

A couple of years ago I visited the catacombs in Paris. That was, in away, more dignified. Over the last couple of hundred years or so around 7 million bodies have been exhumed in Paris, for the same reason, not enough room in cemeteries, and all the bones have been transferred to the catacombs, neatly stacked, and clearly marked which cemetery they came from. The catacombs are the underground quarries that supplied the stone for the Paris buildings. The sheer number of bones there somehow stops it being gruesome. Plus the fact that they are just bones, not dead bodies. Makes a difference.

I continued and looked around the Valencia church, lavishly built by the owner of the Valencia silver mine, and then visited the remaining surface elements of the mine. This was the richest silver mine in the area for 250 years and is seemingly still worked in a small scale.

I rejoined the panoramic road about 2 miles from my parking spot, going clockwise, but I enjoyed the incoming trip so returned, about 15 miles anticlockwise. I remembered Sam Edwards - he's on the circulation list for these trip notes - has a house here but when I checked my emails from him he's not here just now. I easily found the house though from his directions, it's right on the panoramic road. Here's the view from close by the house. What a super view to have from your dining room window!

Next day I wandered around Guanjuato again. Here is the narrowest alley in the town. It's called the kissing alley because rumour has it that a couple in love were forbidden to meet, the girl lived in the house on the left, so the boy rented the room on the right, and they used to kiss over the balcony. But they were discovered, and met a tragic end!

The alley is just off this plaza, on the right.

I explored the market then went to Alhondiga de Granaditas. It used to be a granary, was turned into a fortress, it's now a museum, and it's where the independence hero I mentioned a couple of days ago tied a flagstone his back to ward off Spanish bullets, and crawled up to the gate setting it on fire hence allowing the attackers to gain access.

I wound my way back to the centre. There were 4 donkeys right in the centre. I don't know what they were carrying but it looked pretty heavy.

Back in the centre here is another photo of the theatre

and another of the main, triangular, plaza

where I stopped and had a doze.

I tried another mechanic to see if I could get the cruise control fixed, but he said they were very rare in Mexico, he would need to get a computer to check it out, that would take 3 days. Then of course it's not certain he can fix it. I guess I'll have to wait until I return to the US, after all, I can't say a cruise control is essential for driving. but I haven't given up hope! It's like the storage tube for the hose for the used water tank. That's busted, it's a buy anywhere concertina chimney liner. Anywhere except Mexico that is. They don't have many chimneys!

Tomorrow I leave. Via Dolores Hidalgo. Looks the prettiest way to head northwards towards Durango. I've enjoyed my stay in Guanjuato. It's a lovely town. Lots of things to see. I think Patzcuaro remains my number one favourite though, if I was going to live in Mexico. It's much quieter, it seems much smaller, although it's not, with 50,000 in Patzcuaro compared to 75,000 in Guanjuato. Although maybe I could survive here if I had the view that Sam has!

This the view from my trailer park. Could be worse.

About the cat. He's sleeping right beside me now, he generally sleeps somewhere on my bed at night, he has become quite used to the travelling life, he doesn't stray far when I let him out when we stop, he always knows exactly where the van is, if there's trouble of some sort he is back in a flash. It's about 5 days now since I had to scrub the carpet, he's learned about litter boxes. Except I wish he wouldn't come in from outside to use his litter box then go back out again! He's filling out to about normal size. He should be judging by the amount he eats. I looked ages ago on the US government web site, it seems there are no specific regulations governing the importing of cats into the US provided they are free of infectious diseases but it reminds me, I have one more check to make on the regulations. It will be a great deal easier finding a good home for him in the US than in Mexico. The regulations for importing cats into the UK are almost impossible, they need to be hard wired with identification tags 6 months before entry, they need vaccinations 6 months before entry also. I've been through that already with one cat. For those who have asked it's time I took some photos. And I haven't got a name for him either. Usually if you call a cat it just takes a note and thinks it might respond later. I'm training this little cat to respond to "dinner". I don't know if it will work but I'm trying. I keep saying dinner when I feed him his favourite food. And if he chances to be passing by when I am calling "dinner!" I give him some dinner. I know there are some people who claim to have successfully trained their cats so I live in hope.

Best regards

David Barker

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