Mexico 66, 8th August 2004

The guide books that said that the drive from Durango to Mazatlan was spectacular and they were right. But first I drove through forests with the occasional field full of wild flowers rather reminiscent of Alpine pastures in the spring.

I stopped and small cat practised tree climbing. Going up.

Got there.

Going down/

Actually there were 6 supports for the roof on this broken down shelter. Small cat climbed 4 of them to the top.

Now I started to climb the sierra then descend.

Lots of spectacular views as you can see. There had even been a landslide at one point blocking the road. I was lucky, when I arrived there was a 2 mile long line of traffic, I only had an hour and a half to wait, heaven know how long some people had been there. Probably since early morning, as I mentioned there was a lot of rain yesterday afternoon. I reached Concordia and looked for the internet spot. The first man I asked - well he wasn't the person I asked, but he overheard - and since he spoke English said I had to go to the next village and gave me the name of the paper shop there which had the internet. It wasn't in the next village, it was one street away from where he was when I asked him. As I found after driving round everywhere. Well, that's where the shop was, but it obviously wasn't up to internet standard. They sent me round the block a few times, eventually people stopped waving at me I'd been round so often. The internet shop was unsigned, looked like a private house, and was opposite the paper shop.It had a really good high speed connection though. I had some good news, an email from my daughter holidaying in Australia. I hadn't heard from her for over a month I was beginning to worry.

Back on the plaza I re-encountered an oldish man (probably about the same age as me!) who had not known what I wanted but had done his best to help. As had everybody I asked. I spent a pleasant hour not communicating with him. We had one thing in common, he was called David.

About 6 am the church bells rang loudly. Shortly after a not very pleasant voice started blaring out from loudspeakers. I'd heard the same voice last night and now realised it was the amplified voice of the priest conducting a church service. It didn't get me to church but it woke me up and I was on the move before 8 am which was not a bad thing, it had been very hot when I arrived last night so I could get the bigger part of the climb back done in the cooler part of the day. Up around Durango although warm it was pleasantly warm, down in Concordia it was too hot for me, and too hot for the van to climb easily without boiling.

I've been checking gas consumption for the last few hundred miles, it was seemingly heavy. It was, sometimes down to 7 mpg (32 litres/100 km) instead of 10 (21 litres/100 km). Not the end of the world with gas at around 20 pesos/gallon ($2, 1, or 50 Euro cents/litre) but best remedied. I had a look at the air filter, it was just about bunged up, I got rid of the loose dust with a large paintbrush, but I'll look for a replacement. I don't recollect I've ever bought one and I've now driven the van over 30,000 miles.

There had been some low cloud on the way down, it was gone today, and was a beautiful journey back. I took a photo of a ford

and some more views.

Sorry about the wing mirror. Small cat was asleep on my lap, I didn't want to disturb him so had to take the pictures out of the window, and this was from the passenger side window.

I'd promised small cat though I doubt if he understood that we would stop at his post climbing spot on the way back. Just got there and it started to pour with rain, I sat there for over an hour until it stopped, drove for half an hour and the heavens opened. Thunder and lightning and hailstones, the road was awash. I'd been wondering about heading back to Durango but decided to stop again in El Salto on the plaza. I stopped by the road just before the town to make some dinner, I was just about through when a police car stopped, said it was not safe to park there, and asked me to move. They were happy for me to park on the plaza. Really the police in Mexico are really quite superb.

It poured with rain again soon after I reached the plaza, I had been hoping to buy some more fresh crisps (chips) from a stall on the plaza but of course he closed when it rained and everyone left.

In the morning I headed back to Durango and then north for the Copper Canyon, stopping on the way at Villa del Oeste where a good number of western films were made.

I made a good distance towards Hidalgo del Parral before stopping for the night at another Pemex gas station. It's generally a long straight road, passably interesting, with a few curves and good views thrown in. I did manage to discover that my new air filter has done the trick, gas consumption is now back to acceptable levels. My horn has stopped working now, should be easy for an auto electrician to fix that.

I'm planning to head westwards from Hidalgo del Parral, which is where I am just now, and approach the Copper Canyon from the south. When I reach Samachique I'll look at the road down to La Bufa, which is at the base of the canyon itself. It's about a 14 km drive with a steep descent, a 5 years ago account I read described the road as just wide enough for two donkeys to pass. Maybe it's got better since, in the account I read the writers stopped for the night next to a road making machine!

In either case, until I reach Creel there looks to be nowhere big enough to host a cybercafe so it might be a few days before I am in touch again.

Best regards

David Barker

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