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Dear Readers:

Much to write about since we left San Miguel de Allende Monday, April 1st.  But because of long days on the road, driver exhaustion, lack of Wi-Fi service at the various “campgrounds” we stayed, and various “challenges,” both Mexican and American, it is not possible to be very detailed about every destination along the way.  So what follows is an abbreviated look back at our two-week journey from San Miguel to Warrenton, OR.

First overnight:

 

One of two giant signs marking the location of Las Palmas.

 

Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matehuala, four hours north of SMA, is basically, a hotel with a parking lot in the back reserved for RVs.  But because of the grounds and the wonderful people who work there, it’s a lot more than simply a parking lot for RVs.

Sadly, the next morning on our departure, I ripped the air conditioner practically off the roof of the camper (I admit this to you because I’ve heard writing about negative experiences is somehow therapeutic).  To say that the Mexicans who work here are friendly and very helpful simply does not do justice to their efforts.  After I damaged the A/C, two Mexican workers immediately stepped forward and offered help.  They helped me cover the A/C,  with heavy plastic they came up with from somewhere, and secured it as much as possible with wire and, of course, duct tape.

Rocinante and his A/C intact and uninjured the morning of our departure.

 

Second overnight:

We spent a second night at Las Palmas rather than get a late start; early travel starts are always preferable, if not necessary, when traveling in Mexico.  The restaurant at Las Palmas is excellent and the wait staff extremely attentive and very friendly, especially towards Louis.  They let us have Louie on the patio where he always became the center of attention (of course).  Before we left the next morning, we treated ourselves to a delicious Americano-style breakfast which they serve with fresh fruit and juice.  Then on to Hotel Imperial in Saltillo, four plus hours north.

Third overnight:

The line of tractor trailer rigs on Mex highway 57 north disappear into the distance; the same behind us. Very few passenger cars.

The drive to and through Saltillo had some of the worst driving conditions I’ve yet to experience in Mexico.  The normally four hour drive (as informed by “experienced” drivers) from Matehuala to Saltillo turned into a seven hour drive because of highway construction stoppage on Mex 57 just south of the Entronque San Roberto and also because I had to navigate through some pretty insane traffic mazes in downtown Saltillo, trying to get to the Hotel Imperial.

Most of that time was spent at a stand still behind hundreds of big rig trucks headed north to the border (note photo above).  Once we finally made it to the outskirts of Saltillo, next came the prospect of navigating the chaotic maze of streets, on-ramps, off-ramps, overpasses, and pitch-black underpasses.  Google Maps was extremely helpful by providing street views of what I should expect.

Driving through downtown Saltillo to the Hotel Imperial without incident depends entirely on the driver’s ability to read the overhead street signs then make the right decision about which way is the correct one.  The only way this can work is to slow the rig down enough to spot these signs ahead of you.  Saltillo commuters were not that accommodating of my slow speed, but that was the only way I was able to read the signs in time.  The worst of it was having to drive in bright sunlight then descend into a pitch-black underpass, completely blinding me.  No problem; I just slowed to a crawl, and we finally arrived at the Hotel Imperial.

The RV parking area was at the back of the hotel.  We were the only overnighters there.  The utilities were not all functioning, but I did find a working 120 volt outlet to plug in. Water but now sewer.

Later in the afternoon we met a group of Indian IT engineers who were living at the hotel.  Jackie and I were sitting outside in our lawn chairs, drinking Indio, trying to unwind from the day’s stressful driving, when one of them came up to us to say hello and asked if they could play cricket in the parking lot in front of our camper.  Very interesting to watch them play a very popular game I know nothing about.

Some of the Indian cricket players in the rv parking lot doing…well, what cricket players do.

 

Batter tacking a cut at the ball (they used a tennis ball) with a flat cricket bat.

 

Jackie and Louie watching the Indians play cricket! Note the latas de cerveza Indio.

Forth overnight:

After a quiet, restive night in the back parking lot of the Hotel Imperial, it was time to negotiate our way back to the highway north.  No easy matter.  The main street in front of the hotel had a median strip running down the length of the street for a long way without any way to cross.  No retornos.  Instead, I had to drive through a residential area to get to a rare traffic signal in order to turn left and head north to the border.

To get to our border crossing at Eagle Pass it is a five hour drive from the hotel.  Relatively easy drive until we got to the actual bridge crossing.  As soon as we paid the toll on the Mexican side, we hit a major four lane line of traffic.  It took us at least an hour and a half to get across.  We just showed our passports and we were waved through.

We spent our first night in the US since we crossed at Lukeville six months ago at the Kickapoo Casino RV Park.  It was very hot.  In the 90s.  And we had no A/C.  I had to go on the roof of the camper to do some duct tape repair on the plastic covering the A/C unit. Used a whole roll of tape.

Fifth overnight:

We drove another four hours the next day to Fort Stockton, Texas, and stopped at an RV park we stayed at back in the spring of 2017 on our way to San Antonio.  Very nice park.  In the middle of the night a thunderstorm passed through the area and dumped heavy rain and small hail.  The A/C unit started to leak a little bit and we had to stuff towels into the lower control unit to keep water out.  No damage done and the storm passed over.  Stopped at the Walmart outside of town for plastic and more duct tape.

Never go anywhere without at least two rolls, if not more, of quality duct tape. This stuff with plastic rendered my broken A/C relatively waterproof (stock photo).

Sixth overnight:

The next night we stayed in a dump in Las Cruces, New Mexico, called Siesta RV Park.  Overcrowded with full-timers, and rundown, they charged us full price for a site without sewer.

Seventh overnight:

Tra-Tel RV Park in Tuscon, AZ, was very clean and well-maintained.  Very hot here, however.  In the 90s, making it impossible for me to get on the camper roof to check the A/C cover for tears and gaps.  The fans worked well to keep us fairly cool as possible without the A/C.

Eighth overnight:

Greer’s Pine Shadows RV Park in Flagstaff is much nicer.  The campground is nestled in a forested area, providing shade from the sun.  The A/C cover had some tears, but I had bought some more plastic and two rolls of duct tape, so I was able to re-wrap the A/C.  Ended up using both rolls of duct tape, but I was satisfied that the cover would hold and keep out the weather.  Maybe.

Ninth overnight:

Wind Willow RV Park in Hurricane, UT, is an overpriced resort-style RV park.  We experienced horrific winds all the way to Hurricane.  We’ve been averaging 4-5 hours of driving a day; that’s all we can handle.  Jackie and I have been each driving two hours then trading off.  Fortunately, there is a Walgreens just across from the park and they sold duct tape.  Bought two more rolls.  Can’t have too much duct tape, now can you?

Tenth Overnight:

Valley View RV Park in Ely, Nevada, had the first grassy play area for Louie that we’ve seen since we left the US.  Because of the wind, it was still bitter cold. At least 36 deg with the wind chill factor making it even colder.  I needed to check on the A/C covering and make any repairs.  Have two new rolls of duct tape.  Climbed up the next morning and added more tape, making a stronger seal.  It’s holding really well.  Very cold.  Ely is surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains.

Eleventh overnight:

This night at Silver State RV Park in Winnemucca, Nevada. Still cold outside.  Have to keep the gas furnace going all night.  Warm and toasty inside.

Twelfth overnight:

Grant County Fairgrounds, John Day.  One of the best parks we’ve stayed at.  Very few campers here at this time of year.  Beautiful snow-capped mountains surround John Day.  The John Day River roars behind the campground.

View from Grant County Fairgrounds RV Park looking west at mountains above John Day.

View of Rocinante parked at fairgrounds in John Day. Note A/C unit wrapped in plastic and duct tape on camper roof.

Thirteenth overnight:

Rufus RV Park is our FINAL rv park before we get home.

After two weeks of travel starting from San Miguel de Allende, we finally arrived home safe and sound.

 

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This is probably my final post from Weber’s RV in beautiful San Miguel de Allende.

Both Jackie and I are despondent about leaving our beloved city of San Miguel.  If there was any way at this point of delaying our departure, we would.  Not possible, however:  our tourist visa is almost out of time and we have to be home to file our taxes.

We’re already talking about next year.  Considering our options.  Imagining scenarios.  Weighing possibilities.  We’ll see.

For now, we leave SMA on Monday, April 1st, for Las Palmas RV Park in Matahuala, San Luis Potosi, about four hours north of SMA.  We spend one night there, then drive three hours north to Saltillo, Coahuila.  We’ll stay overnight at the downtown Hotel Imperial, staying in their rear parking lot designated for RVs.  Then on the next day, Wednesday, we drive six hours to cross the border at the Eagle Pass bridge crossing.  We’ll park for the night at Kickapoo Casino RV Park, Texas.  From their we head north through Texas to New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and then onward home to Oregon.

So with that said, I’ll end with a few recent photographs:

Fruiterias are all over San Miguel, but one of are favorites is the one on Sterling Dickinson where the fruit is beautifully displayed. I’m sampling the local valencias. Note the huge bag of limóns.

I love this photograph of Jackie at Mama Mías, one of our favorite restaurants. Colonial patio architecture, talavera planter, and her traditional blusa Mexicana.

If I keep my eyes open, pay attention, I come across some amazing photographic subjects. Like this egret sitting atop this scraggly old tree. For some reason, egrets like this particular tree in this particular neighborhood.

Again, if I look closely I’ll find amazing architectural details like this detail inset above a doorway to a residential building. It’s rather ominous looking with a conquistador wielding a sword against an Aztec or Mayan figure.

I can’t be certain, but these weather-worn figures look like three musicians. Or maybe religious figures bearing religious scrolls. Catholic symbolism is ubiquitous in SMA. 

Often I’ll find religious icons that have been incorporated into the corners of buildings where two streets come together. Though weather worn, the detail of the figures and architectural features is remarkable and, I suppose, go unnoticed for the most part. Perhaps, for the locals, just to know that something like this there is enough.

Some architectural features take on a fascinating whimsy such as this scupper. Scuppers carry the runoff from a heavy rain from the roof, over the sidewalk to the street below.

The curved horns may be a clue to identifying this weather-worn scupper.

One of a row of multiple gato scuppers along the length of the wall.

Tucked away into a street corner, a simple colonial style archway on the corner of Recreo and Hospicio houses this rather nondescript fountain.

Art, expressionism, sculpture is everywhere in San Miguel, even in the places where you least expect it. Like this parking lot in the center of the city. Third-eye, abstract expressionism is an integral part of the spirit and magic of Mexico.

Just to the right of the above Third-Eye, is a towering mural of a buck. In fact, the mural is the first thing that greets you when you enter the estacionamiento.

 

Along a wall on Sterling Dickenson, across from the Hotel Real de Minas, is this fascinating mural that depicts the cultural diversity of SMA.

I took four weeks of intensive Spanish languages classes at San Miguel’s Instituto Allende. All of the walls on the inside patio areas area covered in William Blake-like murals.

This particularly spectacular series of wall murals depict a variety of scenes and probably was painted by more than one artist.

Late in the afternoon, in the distance, sitting atop a hill above the Ancha is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and its two domes

So this ends my final San Miguel blog post; anything posted later will be but afterthoughts.  Tomorrow we head for Matahuala and the road home.

 

 

 

After six weeks in Weber’s campground in San Miguel, it’s the middle of March and most of the campers have headed north.  For now, there’s just three other campers here:  the MAN overlander, pictured above, and our neighbors to the right of us from Canada in a beautiful Leisure Unity; and the folks from Montana:

Steve and his wife Bing have been staying here for several months.  He introduced himself the first day we arrived.  He is a level 5 Spanish student studying Spanish language at Academia Hispano Americana, the same school Jackie and I attended back in June and July of 2010.  He spent five years in Cuba, speaks fluent Spanish, of course, and has a very cute Louie-like dog named Fidel.

When a camper first enters the Weber’s campground, they are immediately met by a rough cobblestone and brick driveway.  In the background of the photograph below, just behind the tall, spire-like trees, sits one of the three beautiful clay tennis courts.

Below, one of the clay tennis courts getting some doubles action:

Along the east side of the compound, are three small departamentos.  They are rarely occupied.  Notice the fairly intricate brick jali walls.  As the winter sun sets, the intense sunlight shines directly on the walls. I’ve come to learn that Mexican masons are very skilled craftsman. The genius of this kind of construction is in its simplicity:  The cool evening breezes can flow naturally through the perforated brick wall, while at the same time blocking out the sun.

The entrances to the departmentos below are a typical example of Mexican gardening and landscape design.—a wonderful combination of stone, brick, desert plants, colorful bougainvillea, and shrubbery.

The driveway leads to a kind of bricked, circular turning area.  Rocinante can be seen to the left.  Off to the right is another driveway leading to another exit, entrance to the campground.

Pictured below is a little covered patio, game room, and a library of donated books, many in German and French.  I actually found a copy of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple and Cervantes Don Quixote in Spanish in the little library.  At many of the campgrounds we’ve stayed, I’ve found little “take one, leave one” libraries.  Sometimes it’s just one shelf of books.

The library here has a couple hundred books.  During late afternoon, when the sun gets intense, and the temperatures hit 85 deg F., the patio offers some respite from the heat.  In the foreground are two unoccupied camp sites.

To the left, my camper’s sewer, water, and electricity hookups.  Like many campgrounds in Mexico, electrical service at Weber’s is just barely adequate.  The circuit breakers are 15 amp, so I have to be aware of appliance wattage use, otherwise, I could trip the breakers.  Which happens often.

Also, there’s not enough water pressure to hook up directly to the camper’s plumbing system.  I’ve had to fill and refill the fresh water tanks and run the 12 volt water pump.  But again, we’re in Mexico and that’s the way it is.

Below is a picture of our “backyard.”  On the extreme left side of the photo, you can see the clay color of the tennis court behind the fence.  Leaning up against the electric jack stand is the wet bath shower sliding door, which I had to remove because one of the slides failed.  Bearings fell out all over the floor.  On the ground is a five gallon bottle of agua puro.  We go through one of those bottles every three days. Can’t make a Margarita without ice.  Javier, one of the workers in the compound, will bring one of these bottles to me whenever we need it.  We’ve used the brown camping mat at every campsite in Mexico.

We don’t need to stretch out clothes lines here.  Someone picks up our laundry every Monday and Friday morning, washes, dries, and folds everything, and brings it back the same day.  Average cost is 180 Pesos or about $7.50 USD for what would normally be about three loads wash, three dry.

One morning I was awakened by the odd sound of loud, rushing air.  Looked out the back door and saw this low-flying hot air balloon.  I read a recent article in the Atención about these balloons.  Tourists love them, as you can well imagine.  I’m sure they offer incredible, heart-stopping views of this beautiful city.  However, they’ve become so popular that residents are starting to complain about them:  there are too many of them; they make too much noise; they fly (float?) so low that it’s dangerous; hell, they might explode over the backyard pool.

As I conclude this blog entry, I’m noticing out my window that Steve looks like he’s getting his rig ready to move on.  They’re heading north, way north to Canada.

And our new friends across from us, Marshall, Bonny, and Griffin, are leaving for Helena, Mont., tomorrow morning.  It’s currently 25 F. there; here, it is 75 F.

In Warrenton, OR, it’s not too bad:  clear skies; high of 56 F; low of 41 F.  In any case, we’re here for another sixteen days.  We plan to savor every minute of it before we have to move on.