Mexico 72, 24th August 2004

I wrote up my travel accounts, wandered around the town a little, and headed north through a pretty barren area. Not like the most of places I have been in Mexico.

I stopped in the small town of Janos and found a grocery store with an internet setup. It wasn't working, a virus had got through the system and infected all his machines including the server. But he had a modem line so I was able to use that.

The scenery improved a touch after Janos as I crossed the continental divide heading west.

I reached the border town of Agua Prieta and parked in the square. It started out quietly but more and more people arrived, stalls opened up, children were cycling around everywhere, also some on inline rollers, there was someone giving mini tractor and trailer rides, then disco music started up on the plaza. Great for my last night in Mexico.

I watched Cesar Burtolini spray painting, he worked at high speed, ideas for his paintings just seemed to flow, wonderful stuff.

I bought one then wondered if he could use one of my favourite photos as in idea. It's one taken with Danny Campbell in Iowa almost exactly a year ago.

Cesar was working with circles, I hoped he could use this just an idea, I thought he might represent the balloons as circles with reflections in the water, he was good at water. But here's a problem with language, I think he thought I wanted him to make a picture of the two balloons which he did, but it was nothing like the vibrant images that are alongside him in the photo above.

I went to bed earlyish, still a little weak from my sickness only to wake up about 3.30 am, and chanced to wake small cat also. And that was it. For two hours he tore around the van, scratching away at my blanket, then doing one or two high speed laps then back to leap and scratch again at any movement real or imagined on my bed. I've never known him in such an insistently playful mood.

Now last night I had been telling him that today he would become an American cat and that is an opportunity that many Mexicans want, he was going to do it. Maybe that's why he was so excited? He started about 3.30 am hurtling up and down my blanket, pulling it with his claws, then he would make a quick circuit round the van, then he would start again. He didn't settle at all, then about 5.30 traffic started. I had no idea what so many vehicles were doing around me at that time of day. When it became light, around 6.30, I could see a line of people queuing, almost right around the block. I don't know what they were queuing for, many of them seemed to be clutching some yellowish papers. The building they were queuing against had no sign. I noticed the door opened at about 9 am, but the Queue did not seem to move or get smaller.

I have noticed by the way that people here are noticeably more wealthy than further south, the streets are wider, many more people have cars, and many of these cars are looking pretty new. Many of the pickups are large and looking new. Garage repair prices are higher, internet prices are higher.

I forgot to mention, a few days ago I found the map that I though had been pinched. I don't know if I was more pleased to have found the map, or to discover that the nice Indian couple had not pinched it.

I went round some garages to see about my check engine light. It only comes on, sometimes, and only when you are driving. Never when you are stopped. Makes it hard for a mechanic to locate the problem. Finally one garage settled on the fuel pump and I crossed the border back to the US to buy another, Mexican pumps are rubbish said my mechanic.

I know most fruit from Mexico is not allowed into the US, including apples, but mine were not very good anyway and I offered them to the waste bin at the border. Potatoes are allowed only if cooked, I'd just boiled mine for an hour and a half. 3 peaches I bought yesterday I ate for breakfast. My small stock of brandy and Tequila did not seem to go over the limit.

It was only when I got out of Mexico that I found out where the immigration office for going in to Mexico was to be found. I need to call there to clear myself and, more importantly, my van, out of Mexico. I found out I was supposed to have paid 210 pesos to a bank for my tourist visa. No one had told me that, but no problem, I just paid it and cleared myself out of Mexico. For the van they took the sticker off the windscreen, entered the info into a computer, and gave me a paper clearing my exit. Now when you go into Mexico they take your credit card details and if you don't check your car out of Mexico they presume you have sold it and charge up your credit card with a vast number of pesos. Their estimate of the value plus a bit. From what I hear this can be a very large bit.

I bought the fuel pump in the US and took it back to the garage. No he said, that's not it, that's only a 10 lb. pressure pump, you need a 40 lb. pump. Back to the US to NAPA parts. Seems there are pumps for 18 gallon tanks, and for 40 gallon tanks. I've got a 30 gallon tank, presumably modified when the motor home was built on the chassis. I've decided to wait until someone can take the pump off - it's actually inside the fuel tank - then they'll be able to get one to match at the spares shop.

So I'm in the US. In the Wal-Mart car park actually.

Here's the sunset.

Little cat is now an American citizen with all the benefits that brings. I hope those benefits will not include de clawing and not being allowed out to climb trees or whatever. There are some web sites in the US that say it is kinder to your cat not to let it outside. Ha!

So that's the end of my Mexican adventure. I was really sorry to leave Mexico, in my 13,000 miles and 6 months of travel there I have seen a lot of places, met a lot of great people, made a lot of friends, and had a super time. I have had my eyes opened. I had no idea that Mexico could be so green, that it's people could be so friendly and happy, they wave, they smile, they welcome. I had no idea that I would meet with such beautiful scenery, that the ancient Mayan cities could be so impressive, that the colonial towns could be so beautiful, or that there would be so many beautiful churches, many piled high with fresh flowers. I didn't know that each town would have a cool and attractive central plaza with seats and paths and often be thronged with people. I learned a lot, and I enjoyed.

Thank you, my friends and family who have traveled with me, vicariously, by email, and have been my companions on my journey. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my travels. I myself have whole bag full of memories.

But life, and travel, goes on. My plan now is to head up to Utah and Colorado then drop back to Albuquerque early October for the balloon fiesta. After that I don't know. Back to the UK for Christmas and to France to visit friends and family. I really ought to buy a house. I guess I shall continue to send out the odd email.

So far I've got 140 cat photos. When I get the chance I'll edit them. I have not yet captured all of his travel positions he keeps finding new places. Yesterday I thought I had lost him. He was in the cutlery drawer...............


Best regards

David Barker


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