BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for November, 2010

« Home

To Oaxaca! Whew! Done!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

I waited until the day we left for Queretaro to call and tell my friend Patsy (we go waaayyy back) that we had changed our itinerary and would be seeing her that evening. What fun! It had been three years since I had seen her and Jose…in fact since June 13, 2006 when they drove into Oaxaca the night the municipal police tried to tear gas the striking teachers out of the zocalo. Haven’t seen her in Oaxaca since!

After she and Jose married in Oregon five years ago, they moved to Mexico so they could be near Jose’s aging mother after so many years working up north. A trained ESL teacher, they survive on what she makes teaching English in her home (cracker boxes are thanks to low-income housing by ex President Vicente Fox) and Jose’s meager computerized and complex mechanic work. Even though born of Mexican parents in San Francisco CA, Patsy feels isolated and lonely in this new country, she says. Interesting…

Parked the car in her fenced yard…in the care of her dog…and got a nice hotel in downtown San Juan del Rio. Drinks and dinner on me. My great pleasure. And I unloaded a few treasured magazines and books for Patsy.

The next morning after breakfast and coffee, Patty and Jose led us out to the toll road toward Mexico City so we wouldn’t have to use my GPS like we did during a Saturday fiesta day on the way in. Grrrrr. A brand new toll road cuts off after a few miles, however, toward Pueblo where we could then go on to Oaxaca. Open about a year. So we didn’t have to traverse Mexico City which can be crazy even on a Sunday. Cars are only allowed in the city on alternate days with licenses that end with even/odd numbers and we didn’t know which day was which…so the new Puebla toll road…as expensive as it was…about $30…was worth every penny.

Incidently, drivers are completely covered by Mexican insurance on the divided toll roads. Just keep your pay stub. Some are federally owned and some are owned by private corporations which are fenced to keep the animals out. A solar powered phone can be accessed every few meters from which a call to the Green Angels will bring out an ambulance and trained medical personnel. Or a mechanic. Repairs and replacement parts are free. A totaled car is replaced. A medical facility at the end of the toll will provide intermediate emergency care until transport to a nearby hospital. Now, why can’t the U.S. do this if Mexico can!?

A Damn Long Drive

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

From Oregon to Oaxaca Mexico! And all that worry for nothing! We’ve been reading too many newspaper articles up north. Flew through the Nogales border and down highway 15…no stops…no searches…no dogs…no federales to bribe…or narcos dressed like federales…no banditos!

No cars pulled off the toll road and set afire by narcos trying to block the police like happened at Loredo a few months ago. 18 of them! I made the mistake of telling my son about it…which disappointingly resulted in his reneging on a promise to give me his VW Taureg!

At the 22km mark got my $36 car permit good for the duration of my FM3 visa (one year) with no trouble. It renews automatically when I renew my visa. Good thing for plastic. Cash would have required a $400 deposit for a new Nissan Xterra to ensure no resale in Mexico and it’s return back across the border. (Some day) Sure wouldn’t want to take a sale from a Mexican auto dealer.

Nearly three weeks in Las Vegas with my oldest son Greg and his sweet Yellow Lab was a joy. He has to be kissing you and in your lap constantly…the Lab…not Greg! My early rising habit came in handy…I made coffee every morning for Greg before he joined another doctor and some others for a 7am workout with an ex Navy Seal. Then it was my job to rub on the Icy Hot and Peppermint Oil. I made Pork with Green Salsa and lasagna for his freezer. Maybe he’ll let me come back some time! Weather was great! Sat out by the pool with my computer every day. “You’re darker,” my friends here are saying. Good. Need that vitamin D!

I had picked up a friend near Palm Springs to ride down with me and as we approached Mazatlan we made a last minute decision to drive over to Lake Chapala. Expat City. Don’t even have to meet any Mexicans…

Spent the night in a very clean luxurious “love motel” in Guadalajara for $20…a “hot pillow” motel my friend called it. We confused the heck out of the maids when we asked for two rooms! Pulled the car through a narrow curving driveway and maneuvered under the room behind a metal door. Then up the stairs…never to be seen by anyone who might tell…

One wall full of mirrors. Vibrating king-sized bed. Porn on the TV. Bathroom two steps up…condoms and lubricants at the ready. Glass-walled shower allowed a view from the room below. You could order all sorts of toys, more condoms?? and viagra…that would be whirled around through the wall in a metal contraption that kept the maid from seeing anything. What a waste on me, I thought!

The next day we managed to make our way into the old silver mining town of Guanajuato without getting lost among all the canyon tunnels. Here is a video of one such tunnel.

The city is much bigger than I remembered from a visit many years ago. There are several colleges here and on a week day the streets were crammed with “kids.” Our beautiful old colonial hotel was also crammed with kids who kept us awake all night. Arghhh.

There are tunnel “raves” with electronic music held every year here. Incidentally, these are common in New York City and all over Europe. One of my couchsurfers from Berlin recently told me about A Love Parade rave in a tunnel in Duisberg Germany in July 2010 that ended in tragedy when the crowd stampeded and 21 were left dead and hundreds injured. That annual Love Parade, which started in Berlin, was permanently canceled. Below is a video of one in Guanajuato.

Visited Diego Rivera’s home which is now a museum…and of course the Mummies of Guanajuato. About a hundred naturally mummified bodies were found interred during a cholera outbreak in 1833. Horribly, you can tell some of them were accidentally buried alive. They were disinterred between 1865 and 1958, when few relatives could pay a tax in order to keep the bodies in the cemetery. They are so popular with tourists that the city has built a beautiful new museum to hold them…open about a year.

Well, that’s Guanajuato. It was my second city of choice when I moved to Mexico in 2006. Next stop, San Juan del Rio…just south of Queretaro.

Self Censuring

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
I moved to Oaxaca City in 2006 to find 70,000 of the state's teachers striking in the Centro. They had been striking every year for more than 20 years to gain a minimum of educational standards for a state ... [Continue reading this entry]