14 December 2009
At the small border crossing Naco, Arizona we crossed into Mexico. Our
poor Spanish was now really rusty and the custom officer gave PJ the
advise to learn to speak Spanish, that would work as magic with the girls!
He apologized to me and gave me a fat wink. It was a relieve to have a
nice officer for a change. We first drove along the west coast
(in La Penita we said hi to our Canadian friends) and then into the
Interior of Mexico. We arrived in San Miguel de Allende; a beautiful old colonial
town. We are at 6700 feet so the nights are
Only eight other trailers were parked at Trailer Park
La Siesta and we soon got to know all the inhabitants. The trailer park is spacious
and we had a large spot. The restrooms are nicely tiled and Internet is
fast. A modern supermarket is across the street and the old town is a
twenty minutes walk. When we discovered a bakery who baked whole wheat
bread we were very contented.
On December 24th we were all invited for a pot-luck
X-Mas lunch by the people from another trailer park, in the center of
town. There are only 12 spots in this tiny place and two days earlier PJ
and I had parked in front of their gate, but we could not made the turn!
PJ also got nervous by the honking motorists behind him. In hindsight it
was too bad because in this trailer park were a couple of world
travelers heading to South America and some young couples too. The lunch
was very nice.
The next day the people from our trailer park
organized a pot-luck
X-Mas dinner. Everybody brought his specialty and
the booze was abundant.
We especially got along with Juan and Christopher, a couple only seven
years older than us. About 23 years ago Chris emigrated from Texas to
Mexico and met Juan, a folkloric dancer and English teacher. They are
together ever since. They live in northern Mexico and also Chris is
an English teacher.
With ten other campers we went out for dinner. PJ
ordered pork with mole; a sauce made with over 30 different
ingredients including chiles, garlic, anise onions and chocolate! I
ordered Chile en Nogada; roasted poblano chile stuffed
with ground meat, nuts and fruit then napped with a creamy walnut sauce
and garnished with pomegranate seeds. The red, white and green are meant
to represent the Mexican flag.
Chile en Nogada, the colors of the Mexican flag
Tuesday is market day in San Miguel de Allende and
with Norma & Croft (a Canadian couple), Juan and Chris we went to the
market. The merchandise was colorful and was displayed the Mexican way.
We ate gordita's from a stall; thick disks of corn dough, griddle
fried and filled with cheese, beef and beans - a Mexican pocket
On December 31st we went with Chris and Juan to La
Gruta; a hot spring in a exotic surrounding. There was also a dark
tunnel leading to a cave where the water was even hotter. Two kids were
hesitant to go in and I asked them if they were afraid to go into the
tunnel. I made it even worse when I told them that there were bats in
the cave. When they finally showed up, they had to laugh about it.
Follow me if you dare
Further than this the camera did not work
We went for a Mexican breakfast. I had chilaquiles
con huevos; broken corn tortillas baked with tomato sauce, cream,
cheese and a fried egg on top. Of course it came with the unavoidable
heap of refried beans.
After we were all wrinkled from the hot water and we massaged our necks
under a strong stream of water, Chris drives us to Atotonilco for a
visit to a church. He took only one wrong turn and entertains us with
good imitations of Texan farmers. There was a celebration in the church
for a girl who just turned fifteen. This is a big thing in Mexico and
the 'bride' was a little ill-at-ease. A mariachi band was waiting for
her outside to serenade her.
Back at the trailer park PJ told everybody: "We went to visit a church
and I got a virgin".
Next to church there were stalls with religious junk.
One of the salesman told us that the little hole in the
middle of the cross is a telescope to heaven. If you look
through the hole real close, you could see the Virgin of
Guadalupe. Guess what? It was true!
We celebrated New Years Eve at the trailer park. We
circled the wagons to create a cozy corner out of the wind. Norma found
a old washtub at the park's junk area which we used as a fire pit and of
course there was plenty food and booze. PJ made a lasagna. I had put a five hour dance
music list on the I-pod and we played it all! I taught the boys the
Chile-Chile-Cha-Cha and Juan taught us the moves that belonged to the
Mexican songs that we played. We danced into the New Year!
Happy New Year!
January 2010, Mexico
6 January 2010
Today we have visited the best kept secret of Mexico! Cannot find it in
the travel guides and the only thing I could find on the Internet was
one article of National Geographic. This article in the NG magazine made
Les curious and last year he went to Silao to check it out. Les is an
Englishman with a Canadian passport, who is house sitting in San Miguel
de Allende and is friends with Croft and Norma from our trailer park.
Every year on Epiphany a few thousand horseman climb the 6000 feet high
Cubilete mountain to get a blessing for themselves and their horses.
Les' enthusiasm was contagious and with Terrie and Nancy (a Canadian
couple from Nova Scotia) and Les we jumped into Terrie's truck and drove
on January 6th to Silao. The Cubilete mountain is easy to recognize from
far away because of the 65 foot statue of Jesus Christ on top. A long,
steep cobblestone road brought us to the top. Les remembered from last
year that there were a lot of begging children along this road. This
year he brought a big bag of oranges and distributed them along the
children. What a marvelous idea! Another truck threw colorful balls at
the children and somebody else gave clothes away.
Terrie parked the truck and when we got out we were surrounded by the
smell of sweating horses and steaming horse patties. Mexican cowboys
were everywhere, waiting patiently for their blessing. They had come
from far and near and we talked to a horseman who had left his rancho
two days ago and had been driving his horse for ten hours per day.
The Mexican cowboys friendly posed
for pictures and although there were hardly any other foreign tourists,
we did not feel out of place.
We walked up to the chapel the sight was overwhelming. About 2500
horseman were perfectly lined up row after row. They were quietly
listening to the Bible story about the three wise man who came to
Bethlehem to worse ship baby Jesus. The atmosphere was serene and the
snorting of the horses and the story telling over the speakers was the
only sound that could be heard. We felt silent too.
Overview of the horseman from the statue of Christ
After a priest had blessed their
horses with Holy water, all the horseman stepped from their horses and
formed a line to be blessed too.
One of the cowboys insisted that Les should try on his long leather coat
and his hat and we had to make pictures of him. Les, with his sun
weathered face looked perfectly at ease with this cowboy look.
After the blessing they jumped on
their horses and galloped over the cobblestones up to the feet of the
statue of Jesus Christ. Some of them crawled on their knees to the
statue, lit a candle and said a prayer. Their pilgrimage had come to an
Driving down we could see them
ascending from the mountain and at the base some of the horses were
taken into horse trailers to bring them safely home. Others we kept
seeing for miles and miles later.
In the background (white arrow) you can see the Christ
PJ had a nice conversation with the cowboys
Mexican horse trailer
Giving a thirsty horse a beer?
We were ready for a Mexican meal. What a memorable day!
8 januari 2010
San Miguel de Allende is an old colonial town, with steep cobble stone
roads, beautiful churches and intriguing murals.
The girl that belonged to
these nails was sitting on a bench when I asked if I could
make a picture of her hands. I guess she cannot do much more
than being pretty and fashionable...
10 January 2010
To hellos, goodbyes and friends made in between...
La SiŽsta Trailer Park is a good example why we sometimes have a hard
time being a traveler. When we arrived here three weeks ago, nobody came
to welcome us and said: "It is good to have you here again", like
in La Penita, where we have come for many years. Or in Hyder, Alaska
where we made lots of friends. So nobody is welcoming you, but now we are leaving
tomorrow morning, we need to say goodbye to new friends. We are warmly
hugged and received little presents like Mexican bracelets, the Canadian
flag and Norma gave me a gorgeous embroidered shawl. We probably will
11 January 2010
We made an early start, because we had a long driving day ahead of us.
We wanted to get from San Miguel to the Emerald Coast with a camping
stop at the El Tajin ruins in between. In the first half hour I saw six
dead dogs lying next to road, a sight I will never get used to. Along the road we stopped at a cute
colored church. They probably had a fiesta recently, because we could
see the bows made from painted corn husks.
We hoped to travel a large part over
the toll roads, but unfortunately the dotted road in our old road map of
2004 is still not finished in 2010. So we had to travel on a winding
mountain road in fog and rain. We took a wrong turn to the campground
and ended on a potholed road in worse condition.
We could not find the campground at
the ruins and continued in the dark to the coast. In the morning light
we could see at which nice trailer park we had arrived last night. Every
spot had a palapa and a kitchen. But the price was doubled from
what we read in our latest camping guide, so we moved to a cheaper place
three kilometers south. The weather is cloudy and not so warm.
Mar Esmeralda Trailer Park (did not stay)
Weird water tower with water bottles in the cement
Trailer Park Yuri,
where we stayed for 3 days
15 January 2010
We left Costa Esmeralda with blue skies. We
drove along sugar can fields and passed trucks with high
loads of cane on top. At the large seaside resort
Veracruz we arrived at a confusing crossing. Man were
standing everywhere, with in one hand a red handkerchief and
in the other a cut off plastic bottle with coins in it.
They were waving their handkerchiefs,
whistling through their teeth and tried to point us in the right
direction in the hope to get a tip for that. But how were they to know
where we were going? While semi's were flashing by, of course we took
the wrong road. Before we were able able to make a u-turn we ran into a
police check and were stopped. The police of Veracruz is
notorious for bribing, so before the officer had a change to say: "Buenas Tardes"
PJ told him we were lost, put the map in his face and asked for
directions. The officer was distracted enough to forget was he was
supposed to ask us. He showed us the right way and stopped traffic so we
could turn around. Nice job, buddy!
The temperature had gone up till 86F and
we were driving a mountainous road along volcanic mountains
overgrown with greenery. At the Catemaco lagoon the
wind had suddenly picked up and waves were crashing the
We went to La Jungla resort set in
the jungle on the shore of the Catemaco lagoon. The road to
get there was narrow and rough. In this jungle lots of
Mexican movies were filmed, but also
by Mel Gibson en
with Sean Connery.
After a thrilling ride we arrived at
the campground and were greeted by a boy with a Dutch soccer
t-shirt! But he spoke only Spanish. We were the only customers and
parked on a grassy field next to the exotic vegetation. We were getting
less and less luxury for our money. This time we were down to no
electricity, no Internet and cold showers, but it was a special place to
This is birders paradise and we saw a
lot of different birds, for example a Hook-billed Kite and I even saw a
The lagune of Catemaco
Our first night in Mexico without traffic noise, police
sirens and breaking trucks. Not that the night in the jungle is without
noises; the crickets are chirping, the palm leaves are whispering in the
wind and the bamboo is moaning.
The next morning we were awoken by the typical song of the Montezuma
Oropendola. This bird is about 19 inch long and was sitting on a branch
just above our camper. Through the roof shutter we could observe him
real close. During his call he swings upside down and flashes yellow in
his raised tail. His song is an unforgettable, bizarre gurgling and
hollow popping series.
In the meantime the sky had gone in
overcast and because we did not want to drive the jungle road in the
rain, we left in a hurry. It took us eight hours to get from Catemaco
and that was not only because PJ had to make emergency stops because I
had a bout of diarrhea. It was more caused by the topes (vicious
speed bumps), chaotic traffic, avoiding a very expensive toll road and
Right through the center of
camping part for the tenters
We drove right through
the center of the busy city
Villahermosa while the rain kept falling. We have bad
memories of this city. In 2003 while we were visiting a
museum, somebody broke into our truck and stole our camera
Just before dark we arrived at the jungle campground in
Palenque. We were pleasantly surprised that Croft and
Norma were here too, but we did not talked to them until the
net morning. Campground Mayabell is loaded with
hippie backpackers who can pitch their tent under a
palapa or just put their hammock up. Every evening there
is life music in the restaurant and the drums, flutes and
singing had to compete with the howling of the monkeys in
Halfway the morning it
stopped raining. When we had left two days ago with sunny
weather, we had optimistically filled our laundry bucket
with dirty laundry, soap and water. But with this high
humidly it will never dry. We kept being optimistic and PJ
put it on the line to dry, but in the end we had to wash it
We are talking to a Austrian couple, when I noticed
something weird in a tree. We think it is a sloth, although
it is moving pretty fast for such a animal. When Croft put
the picture on his blog we soon got to know what we had seen. It turned out to be a Mexican
Tree Porcupine. Later the howler monkeys played
hide-and-seek with us, going in and out of the clearings
high in the trees. Green parakeets flew over our heads,
Mexican hairy dwarf Porcupine
Howler Monkey playing hide-and-seek
The campground had a swimming pool formed by damming a jungle stream.
The cabins around it were for rent and looked so idyllic. PJ had parked
the camper under a huge bamboo tree. Plants you can by in the pot in
North America, were growing here in the wild. Another of these greats
Norma decided at 3 o'clock that it is time for Happy Hour and half the
campground came to sit on our patio to have a beer. In the evening Norma
and Croft invited us for dinner at the campground, restaurant. We wanted
to wait out better weather to visit the ruins of Palenque, but at
night PJ got Montezuma's revenge and spent half the night on the toilet.
I had a restless night too, due to a returning nightmare. I dreamed that
a hairy spider walked over my pillow. I screamed horridly, turned
on the light and shook like a leave. PJ always has a hard time to
convince me that I just has a bad dream. I looked at him unbelieving,
'cause I definitely saw that spider running over my pillow. I always
think this is a weird nightmare, because in real life I am not that
petrified for spider. I have made close-up pictures of them before.
NExt morning it looked promising, but PJ felt close in on this
campground and wanted to go to the (warmer) East coast of the Yucatan.
We left that same day.
I put six frozen pork tenderloins, two ounces of ham and a dozen eggs
(minus two) in a fleece blanket and hide them in a cupboard. We knew
that crossing into the state Campeche we will get a chicken and
pork check. The two eggs go back into the fridge and are being
confiscated at the check, The man is happy with his loot and did not
look any further.
continue part 2