Austin Texas, the Natchez Trace, and Home to Cambridge

Hola

All good things, as they say, …

We are presently in a hotel near Cincinnati. From Austin we meandered through Texas and stayed at Village Creek State Park. Then it was on to the Natchez Trace where we met up with Carolyn and Lou Wright from Virginia at Piney Grove. There it was back to crisp weather and very impressive thunder storms – the first rain we have seen since January, other than the spitting in Oaxaca and the clouds in Austin. The dogwoods and eastern redbuds along the trace were fantastic. I can highly recommend this pleasant, peaceful, history-filled trip through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. We took advantage of two of the three free campgrounds on the Trace: Jeff Busby and Meriwether Lewis. We stumbled on the coolest restaurant at the northern terminus of the Trace – The Loveless Cafe – another must do for next year. So, we decided that the Loveless marked the official end to the journey and the good news is that Jeff and Julie have Zihuat booked for a week next February and, yes, it coincides with our time there. What a coincidence… 🙂

We have been without internet for a while and so it will take some time for me to upload pics after I have processed them.

It is on to Windsor tonight to visit my father and have pizza at an old favourite watering hole. Then back to Cambridge on Wednesday. It has been another fantastic road trip and we love Mexico and Mexicans more every time we go. So, to the Webers, Mina, Memo, Mundo, Juana, Cerillo, Martin, Esmeralda, Marlena y Jaime, Bobby, Philip, Carolyn and Lou, the mechanics in Austin, Nuevo Laredo, and Teotihuacan, it’s  “hasta el ano que viene!” XXXOOO  I hope my spelling and construction are correct. At any rate, the hugs and kisses are cognates! 🙂

Listo

Barb

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Matehuala to Laredo to Austin

Hola

We are at my brother’s place in Austin and it is a true oasis – a pleasant break from the marathon drive north. The pollution around Monterrey is over the top. The mountains surrounding the city are incredible – when you can see them. If this is what Free Trade brought to Mexico then… it’s hardly free. The trip through border-land of Mexico/US was totally uneventful – just hot and dusty. We spent the night at a state park outside of Laredo. A Roadrunner hung out around our campsite but I was too exhausted and sick with a cold/fever to even care to get my camera out so it remains an undocumented memory. It was a nice state park – Casa Blanca Lake.

We lost the van’s gas cap at one of the gas stations – lord knows which one – and if that is the only inconvenience of the trip well, then one would have to say it was glitch free.

We made Austin around 2:00 PM. It was nice catching up and it was out for pizza. Now all I want to do is hit the sack after a dose of nighttime cold medicine. 🙂

Listo

Barb

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Teotihuacan to Queretaro to Matehuala

Hola

The shocks job was completed successfully at the campground although it took two days.  First the boys were late, then they had to get the shocks, then there were wrong bolts. But the boys, on their motorcycle, carrying the parts and tools back and forth in their backpacks from their garage managed to get it done. There was music and lots of giggling so they seemed to enjoy themselves. Kids, but very good mechanics. One was the son of the owner and was the epitome of a grease monkey – toque and all. Good price, no tax. Then a field trip of students came to use the park for lunch break (pizza) and a water fight. Teachers and other supervisors took part. Pics to follow. Then it was on the road again to Queretaro.

Queretaro turned out to be a fabulous city. We walked into the historic town after we were settled. So many squares, all with colonial cathedrals, convents, museums, theatres, shops, restaurants, etc.  At one square, there was live music and dancing – mainly ballroom: tango, cha cha and some jitterbug. The couples were of all ages and excellent dancers. Memorable. We just stayed one night in the garden of a very nice hotel. It has three spots for “RVs”. It also has a heated pool and lovely clean washrooms with HOT water. Pure luxury. The restaurant of the hotel served a super breakfast and that’s what we did for Dale’s birthday. Queretaro also has an 18th century aqueduct. – still operational. Pics to follow.

Then it was on to Matehuala, our last stop in Mexico before the Laredo border. Matehuala was our first stop and so another full circle in Mexico is complete. The trip has been totally pleasant and I can’t wait until December to head out again. The Yucatan and Chiapas are planned.

I have read that the US is sending drones into Mexico (imagine any country sending drones into the US) to look for drugs, but I digress. Funny, they should know where the drugs are because I thought they track the guns they sell to the drug king pins… I digress again.

Wish us luck tomorrow. Hope we aren’t caught in friendly or not so friendly fire. It’s all so ludicrous. We will spend the night in Laredo and then head to brother Bobby’s in Austin and then to Mississippi to meet up with Lou and Carolyn on the Natchez Trace. We will be home by April 1. Really! No fooling. 🙂

Listo

Barb

The Functioning Aqueduct in Queretaro
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Cholula, Teotihuacan and the Pyramids

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Internet has been sketchy at best since we left Oaxaca which is why the time gap. Pictures will have to come later. This is Sunday and we left Oaxaca on Wednesday, I think.  The drive from Oaxaca to Chulula, a suberb of Puebla, is not so short but sweet – easy toll roads. Really nice scenery as the road climbs and descends and along with it the vegetation. As always, quiet. One section became a pine savanah, like the BC interior. And where there is wood, there is another cottage industry. This time, wooden toy and other bric a brac, lining the highway. Very colourful. Of course we stopped to buy a truck for Tury. We also stopped for an oil change in Tehuacan, where a worker, jokingly I hope, asked if we wanted to take his wife with us to Canada. Apparently she could work for us. He agreed that the paperwork would probably be an issue.

Cholula was NOT as poluted as last time. In face, the sky was blue. Surrounded by 4 volcanoes, it is very impressive. Popo, Itza, M….., and Orizaba. We walked to the  pyramid very early in the morning. This is the one with a cathedral perched on the top – a statement of just who was in power. Apparently, the pyramid in Egypt is the biggest, followed by Cholula and then by Teotihacan. There are two there – the sun and the moon and the both look the same. Maybe the sun is a little higher.

Teotihuacan, northeast of Mexico City has been great again. A pleasant surprise was the camping group from MC who came for the weekend. They have just all left and boy is it suddenly quiet. The music last night was live, loud and wonderful. I think I heard every genre represented. There were all sizes and shapes of RVs from those huge coaches to little Nissan converted trucks. Today we went to the pyramids and it is impossible to do them in one day. We will return on Tuesday to see the tunnels and the museum.

Tomorrow, Monday, if you can believe it, Dale is having a mechanic change the shocks on the van at the campsite. Yes, a home visit. The garage is coming to the campground. Mina, the owner of the campground, convinced her mechanic that this would be best. I will let you know how it goes.

Well, I will sign off as I see the internet is down again, so hopefully this will save as a draft and I can post it presently.

Pictures to follow.

Listo

Barb

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Monte Alban – Oaxaca

Hola

We visited this UNESCO World Heritage Site today and it did not disappoint. We decided to hire a guide and he claimed to be of Zapotec ancestry. He had very interesting interpretations and explanations.

You can read more about Monte Alban here  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Alb%C3%A1n if you wish.

It was a long hot day with lots of walking but great now to reflect on all the information.  I love sitting on the high platforms of these sites and feeling the karma. There is a power and a command for respect that is difficult to explain. I love the astronomical aspects, the ancient calendars and glyphs for numbers. So ancient and so advanced in many aspects. They had two calendars: one civil and one agricultural – based on astronomy. There is a building in the shape of a pentagon that was used to determine the spring equinox. There was evidence that they knew the earth’s path around the sun was elliptical. They also seemed to know a LOT about human anatomy as depicted in stone carvings. Our Zapotec guide claimed that the site was the equivalent of a teaching hospital.

Listo

Barb

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Oaxaca – San Felipe Campgrounds

Hola

San Felipe Campgrounds is as nice as it was two years ago, although it is very quiet – as in no campers. There are two other campers, one couple from Quebec and another from Montana. It is so sad as I just got a message with a link to a news clip confirming that the US office of ATF (alcohol, tobacco, and firearms) is busy exporting guns to Mexico, all with the justice department’s approval/blind eye. Watch the story:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/1050.html    Too depressing to think about.

We’ve been having minor stomach issues. I think it is the two for one too many mango margaritas and the all too fresh fruit. I will have to cut back. 😦

We are going to Monte Albán (archeological site) tomorrow. This has been on my agenda for two years. Should be wonderful. Dale investigated the transportation today so we are good to go. I hope to take a collectivo one way or another. You can read more about MA here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Alb%C3%A1n

The birding up in this little place is great but the little critters are quite illusive. I am on the hunt for the sulphur-rumped flycatcher. Tomorrow could be the day.

Listo

Barb

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A Brief Summary

A friend from Zihuat wrote to check in and I am adding my response as a blog entry as it serves well as a summary.

Hola Marlene and Jim (Marlena y Jaime)

Acapulco was strange – the Diamante park is over the top but I liked the pool. We left the compound and walked around Acapulco at night (aren’t we the bold and the brave) and no one accosted us (surprise, surprise) It felt like Toronto in the summer. Bonfil beach in the morning was a pleasant surprise and the surfers were amazing. From Acapulco to Escondido, the highway only touches the coast just outside Acapulco – but what a view. We had breakfast on the beach- chilaciles con salsa roja y huevos revueltos, jugo naranga y cafe americano con leche caliente- my favourite. Just after leaving the beach, the road lunged upward and there was this magnificent view of the pacific with an assortment of “restaurantes” clinging to the cliffs. Wish we had waited to have bfast there. Next time. Not sure if I mentioned this in the blog.

Escondido was a surprise. I loved the restaurant section down at the beach. Very nice place. More surfers. The drive there was a little hair-raising, stomach-turning but it is always worth it in the end. The drive to Puerto Angel/Zipolite was short and sweet.

I sure loved Zipolite and the Ranchos de los Mangos, albeit walled, but then what isn’t here. There was SHADE, and birds, and flowers and dogs and roosters and a swimming pool and a bohemian life-style and great restaurants and hammocks and a great surf to LOOK at and lots of interesting side-trips. Hard to leave. Next year – a month here. It is a huge estate with lots of staff clipping, snipping, raking and hosing. There were the ever-present, ongoing construction projects. And the mangos – they literally fell from the tree onto our table. I didn’t know that mangos can be firm and ripe at the same time. DELICIOUS. However, I ate too many and I am paying the price now. As far as rvers go – there was a couple from Boston whose rig was parked but who live in an apartment on the estate and seem to be some kind of overseer. There was a couple from Wisconsin, another from Mass, single tenter with a motorcycle, and us. Pretty quiet. Oh, there are also guest apartments to rent and there were folks from Quebec in one of them. I asked a lady I met at the pool what the draw is for Zipolite because the water is unswimable unless you are a surfer and daredevil. She said it’s the weather. Every day the same – hot with clear skies. Now this being the beginning of March, she said she remembers rain for a few minutes in November. So, naked people aside – it’s the weather.

Leaving Zipolite, we were going to take the infamous 175 up and over to Oaxaca but decided to go on to Salina Cruz and then backtrack on the 190 to Oaxaca. This route takes you by Huatulco and boy doesn’t the real estate change when you hit the tourist section – manicured lawns, lovely roads, no garbage – limpia here there and everywhere! It would be nice to return and check it out. When we hit Salina Cruz area, we were blown away by what looked to be massive sand dunes on the coast. I have never seen anything like it. Will have to research. Then there was the 190 – not bad for a while, then it became the up, over, around, down, hairpin stuff that makes you swear – NEVER AGAIN. But – the vistas and the canyons were magnificent. I think the secret is to break this trip up and actually stay for a night in the mountains, even if it has to be in a little hotel. I will NOT do the Pemex thing. Doing these hair-raising marathons in one day is NUTS.

But we made Oaxaca by 5 pm and it feels like home. I love it up here overlooking the city and the valley. We actually saw clouds and a little rain – glorious. We are back in the dry warm days cool nights highlands again.

Marlene, your massage sounds great. Haven’t met Mike and Greg and who is Robert? Don’t know about Blues Bars but we haven’t heard R and G once on this trip. A Japanese whaling ship in Zihuat? Good Christ! I am not sure if I mentioned in the blog that on our Zihuat side trip to Manzanillo beach we saw humpback whales on our way back. Well we did.

Thanks for writing Marlene. I will add this message as a blog post because it serves well as a summary. Oh – day is just breaking here and I am stunned to say that it is CLOUDY and I may need real clothes.

Love and Listo

Barb

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