Wednesday, 28 January 2009

09/01/2009 - 04/02/2009 - Barra De Potosi - Teotihuacan

09/01/2009 - 22/01/2009 - Barra De Potosi. Dave was finally fit and well to travel, the teeth had been fixed and the back had healed (after a couple of massages). I did tell Dave that you don't need to have a bad back to have a massage, I did manage to get a few in. The last two weeks in Barra De Potosi was spent getting Dave ready to go, helping Cecil out with a few jobs around the place and preparing Stubbie for her next leg. We also managed to get a couple of trips sailing in the bay in Cecil's Hobby Cat. One of the highlights was a 15th Birthday Party of a young girl from the village. The whole village was invited to attend. Apparently, you need to be a virgin girl to have this La QuinceaƱera (the celebration of the transition from childhood to womanhood). The party started at 9:00pm (so of course we had to eat before hand), there were around 500 guests, she had about 10 male chamberlains, the cake had 11 tiers, there was a huge stage with a large band playing (Dave says the stage was like what AC/DC would have in concert), all the tables were decorated with white linen table clothes, the chairs were also decorated with white linen and pink ribbons. This is in the small village of Barra De Potosi were most of the locals have sand floors. It was huge. We left at around midnight and the cake hadn't even been cut, we spoke to some people the next morning and they left around 1:30 and it still hadn't been cut. It was just an absolutely amazing evening (unfortunately we don't have any photos to show for it - but that's another story). So after nearly 7 weeks (original plan was for about 2 1/2) we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed to Acapulco. Of course after being here so long I got very attached to the 2 dogs and 1 cat. Most mornings as soon as I opened the door there would be these pleading eyes looking at me for their morning treat, so of course they got what they were looking for, and then they just loved their walk along the beach.

22/01/2009 - 23/01/2009 - Acapulco. The drive to Acapulco was smooth sailing on fairly decent roads. We chose the RV Park in Acapulco for the fact that it advertised that it had WIFI - but unfortunately they were still waiting for it to be connected - bummer. We decided to stay and set ourselves up anyway only to find out that Dave had left one of his hose connections back at Barra De Potosi. We were in the 2nd row of the campground (which is located directly on the beach) and part of our campsite had a small pool so that was a bit of a bonus. We got settled in and headed straight for the beach, after Dave says that he has had enough we get out of the water. Dave didn't stay in the water very long (which was a little bit unusual and he keeps looking behind him). After we were safely on the beach he points to a couple of fins going through the water and says that one had brushed up against him. We think they were small sharks - that's the end of my swimming days in Acapulco. The next morning we catch the local bus for 45 cents each into Acapulco to go and see the Cliff Divers (which as Dave will tell you is the only reason we are here - is because I wanted to see the Cliff Divers). So after the bus drops us off we hop into a VW Taxi with The Big Fella scrunched up in the front and head up the hill. We get ourselves seated in the restaurant and we catch the last bit of the 12:00 show, we are there for the 1:00 show. The cost to sit in the restaurant and watch the divers was $15.00 per head and this included two drinks. So of course Dave orders a Cerveza and I order a Margarita and some food. The waiter comes around again and Dave orders another Beer and I order a Diet Coke (I know hard to believe) the waiter tells me that I will need to pay extra for a Diet Coke so I just had to have another Margarita - this country is leading me to drink.....

Our first night in the RV park was a bit of a surprise. After we went to the beach to watch the sunset (Every susnset is important in Mexico....) we were just starting to settle down for the night when Dave noticed a man dressed in army fatigue carrying a machine gun. It turns out he was the security guard for the park. Needless to say we did not go for any late night walks.

24/01/2009 - 25/01/2009 - Taxco. Taxco is known for its silver so of course we have to go there. If you can think of the most inhospitable mountain side to build a town on this was it. It is a gorgeous little town set right into several mountains. Unfortunately there are no RV parks near Taxco and the streets (excluding the so called highway through the town) are all cobblestone lane ways. So we intend to stop on the outskirts and catch a taxi into the Town Centre. Unfortunately, we didn't stop soon enough and after about a kilometre we realise that we have no where to turn around so we just have to keep going and of course it is a Saturday so the markets are on, which means all the sidewalks have stalls on them and the people are walking on the road. Luckily it was the highway and there were police directing traffic (every 30 metres there was a police officer standing in the middle of the road trying to keep the traffic movining) at least there was enough room to squeeze Stubbie through to the other side of town. Once on the other side of town we turn Stubbie around and this time we stop at the information centre (on the other side of town) and ask if there is anywhere (safe) that we can park Stubbie and go into town. They were really helpful and they let us know that we could park Stubbie just outside their office (still on the highway) and that she would be safe, and if we wanted to we could even park there overnight - fantastic. One of the tourist officers advises us that one of his really good friends Ross who is from Sydney needs to go back home as he has a sick family member back in Australia. So he asks us to go in and see him and say hi - his store is right in the middle of the town, so we tell him that we will drop in and say hello. So they flag down a taxi and we head into town. This time we are in a VW, but there is only one front seat for the driver, so at least The Big Fella has plenty of leg room. Nearly all the cars in Taxco seem to be VW's all smaller, and not too long into the trip we find out why, some of the lane ways are just wide enough for one VW to fit through and some of the corners require the taxi drivers to do a 3 point turn to get around. The Taxi driver drops us of at our destination (a silver jewellery store) so we get on out and head into the jewellery store, not too long afterwards Dave realises that he has left the camera in the taxi (remember this is the man who doesn't trust me with any of our valuables). So we head off to the nearest Information Office and ask if there is anything that we can do - he advises us that as we don't know the number or company there is nothing that we can do - bummer, although losing the camera is bad we have alos lost some of our photos for the last two weeks. In a way it was lucky that we had two cameras as I had taken a couple of shots of Acapulco and some of Taxco - of course being the loving wife that I am I never mention it again - well at least for an hour or so.

Oh well there was nothing that we can do so we go on shopping and wandering the lovely little cobble stone streets - they are so much nicer when you are walking on them than when you are driving on them. After a couple of really nice stores and a little bit of damage to the wallet, we decide to go and find Ross, of course when we get to the store we soon find out that it is yet another silver store, so whilst we are waiting for him to turn up, I wander around and after a couple of little drinks of Mezcal (an alcohol drink made from the cactus plant) I decide that I have a little bit of money left so I spend that too. So we are just about to leave when the guy from the tourist office turns up, also to say goodbye to Ross, and we let him know that we have lost the camera. He remembers which taxi we used and says that he will see what he can do, so we tell him we will wait in the store for him. We are thinking that he is just going outside to give them a call, but after about 45 minutes he returns to the store. He has actually gone down to the Taxi Union Office and waited for the driver and asked him if he had seen the camera, unfortunately he said that he didn't see it, so he assumes that his next passengers have picked it up. We just couldn't get over the effort that he went to, to help us out in trying to find the camera. We thanked him very much and gave him a tip and tell him we are going out to dinner, we did invite him to come with us but he wanted to wait for Ross, but he did walk us to the restaurant - just unbelievable how helpful some of the people we have met on our travels in Mexico have been. Dave and I have talked about it and we will now be a lot more helpful to tourists when we get back home. We head on back to Stubbie - not knowing if she would be okay - but she was as good as gold. Dave didn't get much sleep that night, as he was worried about what was going on outside (on the highway) - of course I knew he would worry for both of us - so I had a good night sleep. During the night the police set up a road block right behind Stubbie. We think the police assumed there was no one in the RV as they would have probably asked us to move or we would have had to pay a bribe. We head off the next morning around 7:00am, luckily for us we are in Mexico and it appears to be like a lot of other towns we have been in where they don't really wake up until later, so the streets are fairly deserted and we have a nice easy run through and out of town.

One our way to our next destination Teotihuacan we need to go around Mexico City (the largest city in the world), the previous night I had worked out which was the best way to go and we knew that Sunday was the best day to travel. In Mexico City they have restrictions for what days you can and can't drive your vehicle depending on your last number on your number plate. You also have to have a smog sticker. So I've got all our Mexico maps out (not that they means a lot, most of the maps are out of date and the street signage is very limited) and as we are getting closer to the city, still on the highway, we are looking for signs to take our next turn. Well, it soon became obvious that we had missed it, because before we knew it we were on the inner circle road for Mexico City - as you can well imagine the Big Fella was not happy - one of his nightmares had come true (and no that's not waking up beside me). We pulled up at a street market and in my best Spanish asked for some directions, more to find out exactly where we were. We were very lucky we were only about 100 metres out from finding the other half of the ring road so we got back on the road to take us out of Mexico City and continued on - after we were out The Big Fella had a smirk on his face - so it wasn't too bad, but I am sure he wont let me forget this one. The smog just around Mexico City was huge - we can understand why they have some restrictions on driving vehicles. Every bit of information we have read says NOT TO DRIVE THIS WAY... because of the traffic, the difficult signage and the corrupt police. We were probably lucky it was Sunday.

25/01/2009 - 01/2009 Teotihuacan - We have negotiated our way to Teotihuacan and are heading for the camp ground. As we go to make our last turn into the street where the park is located, we find out that the street is closed - yet again another Religious festival. One of the guides gives Dave some directions on how to find the park - so off we go. Yep we get lost - this time I have nothing to do with it. So as we are trying to turn around in a small street with construction going on Dave clips some rebar - another reminder of our Mexico travels. One good thing came out of it as Dave was trying to pull of the rebar and not cause any more damage another friendly Mexican comes along to direct us. He also asks us where we are going in Spanish, we try to tell him in our Australian Spanish, he realises we speak better English, so he calls his son over to provide us with directions to the park, but he decides that it is a bit tricky to find at the moment (with all the festivals going on) so he jumps in his car (with the rest of the family) and leads us to the entrance of the camp ground. I tred to give him a tip of which he bluntly refused. We still can't get over how helpful the Mexicans are, they really do go out of their way to try and help. But unfortunately this story doesn't end there. As the festival is going on there are cars parked over parts of both driveways, so the camp ground host is trying to find the owners to get them shifted so we can enter the camp grounds. Well she finally tracks down her brother's driver who comes over and shifts his car. We now have some room to manoeuver Stubbie in. So the Big Fella successfully reverses Stubbie up the road and then starts to go forward (oh by the way this is a one way street with cars parked on both sides). Well after only about a couple of meters of going forward I hear a crunch, he has just clipped a vehicle parked in the street. We decide that we will get Stubbie into the campground and then worry about the other vehicle. After we get Stubbie safe and sound in the campground, Dave writes out a note with our phone number and where we are staying to leave on the windscreen of the damaged car. We then wander over to the camp ground host (Mena) and explain what has happened, she advises us to do nothing, we let her know that people have seen the accident and she says don't worry about it, if the driver comes into the park we will deal with it then. Apparently, a lot of the car owners actually have drivers and if you deal with the drivers they may negotiate a price and pocket the money without getting the vehicle fixed. We don't feel comfortable with the do nothing option, so Mena comes with us to the vehicle. She recognises the vehicle (it's her brothers secretary's car), she locates the owner who tells us not to worry about it that he will just give it a good polish and that will be enough - so Dave gives him $20.00 and that's that.

After we have settled in we bump into another couple in the camp ground - they are from Paradise Point on the Gold Coast - Kevin and Sandy. They have bought themselves a 5th wheel and are currently travelling around Mexico.

26/01/2009 - 28/01/2009/ We have a nice couple of days - getting over the stress of yesterday and on Australia Day we go out for dinner with Kevin and Sandy of course to an Italian restaurant. We had planned on going to the Teotihuacan earlier but the Big Fella has cracked up yet again, he has developed really bad cracked feet because he hasn't worn shoes for two months, and doesn't think he would be able to walk too far, plus he said he had a bad neck - he really is starting to crack up, luckily we are doing this trip now, whilst he's still young and fit.

29/01/2009 - Today we finally made it to the Teotihuacan Archaelogical site only about 5 km's from the camp ground. The taxi fare was a huge $2.00 (you can't even open the door of a taxi in the States for that). This site was Mexico's biggest ancient city and the capital of what was probably Mexico's largest pre-Hispanic empire. Within the site is the Piramide Del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) the world's third largest pyramid, surpassed in size only by Egypt's Cheops and another pyramid in Mexico, Cholula. It was a real eye opener for me, not knowing anything about the Mexican pyramids (I thought that all pyramids were tombs), these pyramids were more for worship. We had a really enjoyable day, whilst getting a bit of exercise walking to the top of the 3rd largest pyramid in the world. After climbing the first pyramid we realised how unfit we are and that if we are hoping to get a bit of skiing in soon, we better do something about it.

30/01/2009 - 31/01/2009 - We have spent the last couple of days just having a look around the village and also Dave has been helping our fellow Australians with some technical issues they are having with their internet and also with trying to get some software loaded for them to access Mexico maps. It is unbelievable how many religious festivals are going on, it seems that every hour there are fire works (home made of course) going off and this goes all through the night.

01/01/2009 - We have decided that today is the day to go and visit the world's largest city, approx 24 million people. We have been a bit hesitant about going into Mexico City as you do hear and read a lot about the crime that does happen. In our Lonely Planet books it states that in 2004 there were 4 express kidnappings, 84 car thefts and 55 muggings a DAY. It also states to be careful when catching Taxi's as assaults still occur, apparently many victims have hailed a cab on the street and been robbed by armed accomplices of the driver. The four of us (Kevin, Sandy, Dave and I)head off in the morning, we know we need to catch a bus to a bus terminal (that's a 1 hour ride) and then another bus, taxi or train. The bus ticket is $2.30 each. We are advised when we buy the tickets that the ticket is good for the return trip as well. We all get off the bus and start to head for the Metro, when a taxi driver stops us and asks if we need a taxi, I ask him how much and he said $15.00 - that's between the four of us - that's good enough for us. So we all cram into the taxi, Kevin is probably a little bit bigger than Dave and Sandy is about 6 foot. So we get dropped off at one of the hop on hop off bus stops to do the round trip - well 3 hours later, badly needing the bathroom and hungry we get off. After we have eaten and gone to the bathroom we go and visit the Zocalo which is the plaza of the Constitucion. On the East side is the Palacio Nacional (the presidental palace), the north the Cathedral Metropolitana, and on the south the offices of the District Federal Government. Our first visit was to the Cathedral which began construction in 1573. Because of its placement atop the ruins of the Aztec temple it has been sinking unevenly. Our next stop was the Palacio Nacional the home to the offices of the president of Mexico, the Federal Treasury and some brilliant murals by Diego Rivera. The first palace built on this spot was built by Aztec emperor Montezuma II in the early 16th century. Cortez destroyed the palace in 1521, rebuilding it as a fortress with three interior courtyards. In 1562 the crown bought the palace from Corte's family to house the viceroys of Nueva Espana. Destroyed during riots in 1692, it was rebuilt and remained the vice-regal residence until Mexican Independence. So that was enough architecture and history for The Big Fella. He had heard that Mexico City also had a technology area full - so that's where we headed - Dave was in heaven, he had a smile from ear to ear. He didn't buy anything but he was as happy as a child in a candy store. So after we have finished for the day / night we decide to get a taxi back to the bus station - this time it is only $5.00 - so I guess we were ripped off coming into the city were we paid $15.00. We arrive at the bus terminal with what we think are return tickets, only to find out after about 20 minutes of trying to communicate with the bus driver/ticket officer that our tickets were only for a one way trip - so that's another $2.30 for the return trip - you have to love the prices in Mexico.

01/02/2009 - 02/02/2009 - Dave has been spending the last couple of days helping the camp ground owners set-up their wifi system, even though he continues to whinge, I think deep down he really is enjoying it. The WiFi for the campground is now called Koala so we have left our stamp in Mexico. The Swiss couple that we met on the Baja have also pulled into this camp site (Jonas and Sylvia). It was great to catch up with them - they are a great couple and we hope to catch up with them again in either Europe or Australia.

03/02/2009 -04/02/2009 - We were planning on leaving on the 3rd and then the 4th but the Big Fella has now come down with the flu, so hopefully we will be able to leave on the 5th.

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