Mexico 64, 31st July 2004

The next day started out dullish so I delayed leaving Guanjuato, worked on my web site, I'd noticed some errors on the site, I played with the cat, and generally relaxed. The sky cleared just after lunch but it was now so late in the day I decided to stay another night! The van door was open all day, the cat stayed inside.

Next morning was dullish, again, and there was very low cloud reaching quite a long way down the mountains. Since I wanted to see the view on this drive I waited, about 1 pm it was all cleared, so I continued on. Well, after I caught the cat I did. Again the door was open all morning, the second that I am about to close the door to depart little cat shoots outside and hides under my van or an adjacent car. He climbs up the springs or on top of the tyre so he's sometimes hard to find. After I got him it was a beautiful drive. Here's the view looking back.

As you can see in the distance it's a bit murky still, so I didn't take any more photos.

I reached Dolores Hidalgo about 4 pm and just sat on the square. Very pleasant, very relaxing. I'm not sure for how long I would enjoy just sitting on a plaza watching the world go by, with someone singing and playing electronic organ in the background, quite decently, but for a couple of hours it was nice.

Next morning was bright and sunny and I drove to Ojuelos, about 70 miles, stopping in each small town to make a circuit of the plaza and taking a glance at the church. Just about every town or village has central plaza with footpaths, seats, neatly trimmed hedges and trees, with church and municipal offices alongside. Having said that, where I am now there is nice plaza, but no church or municipal offices. Could well be that I'm not on the main plaza. However I've driven around and found other plazas but none seem more appropriate. Maybe it's the exception that proves the rule.

Now I'm en route to Aguascalientes. Pretty in places.

I've notice the cruise control works spasmodically. (Ever the optimist I keep trying to set it.) I don't know what that means. Maybe a bad contact somewhere, or a component in the control box breaking down. When it's in it generally stays working. I've noticed if I even think of touching the brakes it goes out. Of course it's supposed to cut out if I break but I'm thinking it's maybe a touch sensitive. But Wayne tells me he has been told that independent repair shops can usually fix them for under $100 in less than an hour. He also came up with a rather lewd suggestion linking the mummified corpse with rather large private parts and what might have happened over the balconies in the very narrow alley. He also had a rabbit called dinner but after Danny's suggestion I should make it clear I have no intention of eating this sweet little cat. Even fried with salsa. When I call "dinner" it is what it eats, not what I eat.

Aguascalientes is a nice city, wide pleasant streets, nice people - a guy from the tourist office noticed that after I left I wandered into the Capitol to look at the murals and rushed out of the office to give me another brochure. You can't see the murals in the photo. They are on the far end wall behind the staircase upstairs, and on the walls immediately left and right.

I looked inside the cathedral. Nice ceiling.

Here the cathedral is behind us on the right, the capitol is the building on the left.

Another view of the cathedral from the plaza.

I drove around a little, called in at Sam's Club to restock my drinks store only to find that due to the elections today and tomorrow sales of alcohol are temporarily banned! I'll survive. Some while back I bought a litre bottle of Tequila at Sam's Club, on special offer with a free half litre bottle. I put them in store. When I needed more Tequila a week or so ago I found that the half litre bottle was totally empty, the contents had leaked over a fake leather bag and all the fake leather had dissolved. Now this was a good Tequila. I wonder what it does to your insides? And what about the drinkable stuff I found that was 12 pesos ($1 or 60p) a litre? That's nearly gone and I'm still here.

I stopped at a little town up the way towards Zacatecas. Fell into conversation with a street vendor of corn on the cob. He ran after me and introduced himself. Another example of the good reception I see from Mexicans everywhere. He was laughing all the time, he has 8 children, eldest 24 youngest 10, his wife died 2 years ago but he has a new wife age 29 he told me! Just by the way, I've mentioned before, everywhere is full of street vendors, with little roadside stalls, some on wheels like Pancho's corn on the cob, some built each day, some sitting behind a small pile of produce on a sheet of plastic on the ground, maybe chilies or bananas, some with a small table outside their house, some just walking around carrying such things as a display of jewelry or snacks on a tray, and everywhere, on almost every street, there are small grocer shops. They are not there to rip off the tourist, this is the life style. This little town I suspect sees few tourists. I knew it was here, from the map, but I had trouble finding it. When I found it, or what I thought was it, I could not find the centre, I had to resort to a technique I have often used before. Most streets everywhere are on a grid pattern. So I drive until the town is coming to an end, turn left or right, take the 3rd street back the way I came. Most streets are one way, alternating directions, one to the left, one to the right, and so on. I keep going like this until at one of the intersections I spot a plaza, or a church.

There was a wedding at the church. I took a few photos, popped back to the van, printed out the best photo (I have some photo paper with me) and gave it to the couple before they left the church!

I had trouble finding my way out of the town in the morning. I found myself going the wrong way on a one way street to with two cops on foot beside me and another two in a car coming towards me. They were all very nice about it, holding up the traffic while I got myself sorted out. Another dumb gringo they were probably thinking.

I stopped in Guadalupe and tried to visit the transport museum. It was shut, so I visited the museum next door. It was full of huge superbly painted religious paintings. Pity I'm not into paintings.

I also read a little about Zacatan. Sounded a great city until I read my Church's camping guide. Big vehicles are prohibited from entering the city. My twin rear wheels put me in the big category. I was planning to park at a trailer park a little to the North of the town but I changed my mind and decided to stop in a more expensive park just by the teleferico. Skirted the town on the by pass and found the trailer park no problem. But it's not a trailer park any more, they are completely rebuilding the motel. However I parked there for the day while I visited the Eden mine. You can see where the miners have dug upwards almost vertically following the veins of silver, gold, iron, copper and zinc ores. I haven't seen a mine like that before. Apparently conditions in the mine were so bad in the early days that up to 5 miners a day were dying from mining related illnesses.

I also intended to ride the teleferico up to the Cerro for a superb view over the city but took one look at the queue (it's Sunday, people go out on Sundays in Mexico) and decided to walk down to the town. The cathedral is nice with a stupendous main facade which is hard to photograph, here is a side view.

I noticed people were lining the streets and asked at an information kiosk. There is a carnival procession at 5 pm I was told. I waited and waited then waited some more. By 6.30 pm the first of the bands arrived followed by a float.

It's not a jazz band but they were OK. Afterwards came troop after troop of folk dancers, dancing around. I saw 2 groups from Germany, 2 from Austria, 2 from Canada then some Mexican dancers dancing in the style of Slovenia and Czechoslovakia. I had to leave, I need to find a parking for the night, and as I crossed the road I could see group after group of folk dancers still to pass my spot.

I drove a little to the north, to my originally intended park. I didn't find an internet spot yesterday or the day before, and of course today I can't drive into the town and it's a long way to carry my lap top. So this issue of my journal is getting longer and longer............

Best regards

David Barker

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