A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Abruptly, near the town of Perote, we were in the dominant climate of the Mexican highlands, a semi-desert of dry fields, cactus, and dust. At least there were some pine trees for a while. I ran into a bank in Perote, pushed in my ATM card from our checking account at home, and we were flush once again. We hadn’t bothered with travelers checks, and never needed them. The ATM machines worked flawlessly every time. We had heard a few tales of them not giving cards back, so we had some credit cards with us to use if we needed to.

We were on our way to the great Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan, and there was no direct route. We could have detoured to get on some toll highways, but that way would have taken us to the edge of Mexico City, which we wanted to avoid. So we were following a zigzag route of chiefly two-lane roads which an American who knew the region had suggested to us. It turned out that the route was popular with truckers, too – there was a steady stream of them.

By late afternoon, we had made good time but we would not get to the campground at Teotihuacan that day. So we pulled off the highway, into a small town, and looked around for a place to camp. Many Americans would never dream of doing such a thing, but we had done it a lot on our last long trip. The first place Kelly suggested we camp, right in the town square, I nixed because of the hard-eyed adolescents looking at us with surly eyes. Admittedly, when I said hi to one of them, he transformed into a friendly fellow.

We went on and found ourselves in a tiny town, where all of the few roads were level. Surely we could camp here. We stopped, and I asked a family. They answered, with less friendliness than we were used to, that we could park by the town plaza, where the police would be by during the night. They directed us there. So we went over and parked. This was it, and in good time. There was still about an hour till the witching hour of dark, after which no sane gringo wants to be on a Mexican highway. I bought a couple of limes in a little shop, and the woman there said we’d be fine camped on the plaza.

I was outside the motorhome when a woman of about my age came purposefully toward us. She made short shrift of the informal greetings that begin most conversations and got to the point. The people across town had phoned her, she said, and she needed to tell us that day before yesterday it had only been a week since two girls had disappeared from the town we had gone through. So the people here did not want any strangers. For our own safety, we needed to leave.

She said it in a friendly enough way, and added that she had lived in the capital and worked for a gringita, and she knew that there were good and bad among all people. (By adding the diminutive -ita to the word for a North American woman, she gave it an endearing quality.) We took each other’s hands, agreed that it could be a very sad world, and then Kelly and I got out of there fast. As we did, I remembered the persistent belief that exists throughout Latin America that Americans steal children to use their body parts. A chill ran down my spine.

We were approaching a larger town on the highway, and we thought this might be the time to try one of the Auto-Hotels, when suddenly I saw a sign that said, “Pension de Trailers.” That sounded promising, so Kelly pulled in and I went into the cafe by the sign and asked. The owner, a gray-haired man, was very kind and said that we could indeed stay. Since we didn’t need showers or anything, he wouldn’t charge us. We later found out that the phrase meant a place where truckers could stop, get a shower and meal, and sleep in their cabs.

The pig communes with Kelly. It was hoping for some nice leftovers.

Finally, just at dusk, we were in a good spot, with a peaceful view out the back window, and a friendly pig. The scene in the small town had been the strangest thing we encountered in our whole trip, and we were glad to put it behind us.

Our night behind the roadside cafe was not a quiet one. All night long the trucks roared by, and we both were awakened repeatedly as every truck stopped for a tope just down the road and then accelerated. I felt that the trucks were the lifeblood of Mexico’s rapid rush into the industrial life, pouring through the arteries of the many highways.

Our view from the Pension de Trailers. As night fell, lights sparkled from homes on the hills.

So we were not the most energetic the next morning on the last leg toward Teotihuacan. We were stopped by the Army for one of their regular drugs-and-gun checks. It was just before one of the turns we needed to make and I didn’t quite understand the map, so I took it outside, spread it on the hood of our vehicle, and got several soldiers to explain the route to me. Meanwhile, Kelly was inside the motorhome with one soldier, who found our shelf of vitamins and other supplements. He was specially interested in the several different kinds of white powders encased in capsules (Vitamin C, etc.). He smelled them briefly before smilingly letting us go.

[Next: the great ruins of Teotihuacan, and meeting local people]

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