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Subject: From Ed and Edith Part IV A killer day
Part IV -The final leg-577 miles in one day on some of the toughest roads of the trip
We got up in the dark after getting some reasonable sleep despite the truck diesel noise, checked the signal lights and they were working so we headed out swearing we would get stopped before it got dark. We kept getting shell shocked at how much the tolls were! We come up on a sign and it said a town with a second word and the other arrow was for the same town with a differeent second word and one was SIN AE1 and the other HWY 15. All our maps showed the toll road as 15D and the non toll road as 15. We had no map of 4 that showed SIN AE1! We headed down 15 and it soon changed to a two lane and the GPS showed us on Hwy 15 which with the old maps in the GPS told me we were on the non-toll 15 so we needed to turn around. Of course there is no place to turn around. Finally I spot a road down thru the ditch and into the field. I take it and creep down the bank into the ditch and into the field and can back around. I get turned around and get back up the grade and of course there are cars coming so I have to wait for a long time for a clear spot and then punch it. The F-350 responded with good power and we are off and get on Sin AE-1. We had some concern if we could get on since it was a toll road but we could. Since the Obregon area it turned more and more agricultural with some confinement livestock and crops and irigation. As we head south we reach the state of Sinaloa and we really got into farming country and found corn all eared out and lots of American seed corn company hybrid signs. I don't know if they were seed fields or not. My guess is they were not. We have this controlled access hwy with a concrete center barrier but the farmers had taken the fence down and drive on and off the toll road. It was not unusual to have one going the wrong way on the shoulder to get back to a turn in from one field to the other or be pulling out on the road to go to the next field. The speed limit is 110 km/hr but for the first time the road was almost deserted as the trucks had a choice as to the free road or the toll road.
BTW Sinalao is the most corrupt state in Mexico by far but not the most dangerous. The dangerous ones are down below Acapulco.
We got down to Marzatlan and again we have a choice of roads and again the same thing with the same first word for the city and the second work was different and now they are both hwy 15 again. We take the one that looks right and soon it turns into a two lane and I dedide we are wrong. We get turned around and head back and it dawns on me that the second word the one way is libre and the other way is cuota and I remember seeing that before. We had been looking words up that we seen on the signs the last to days and we were figuring a lot of them out, at least the rough translation. It suddenly dawns on me the libre probably means free and cuota might mean toll. Edith searched the Spansih dictionary and sure enough that was the deal!!! Boy those are VALUABLE WORDS TO KNOW!!!! After that we ran into the same situation at least 5 more times and were able to make the correct decision.
BTW we could see the ocean quite aways north of Marztlan and we could see some of the high rise hotels and the beach. It was very pretty but it was more desert like, leaving the farming area.
I had a nice encounter with the attendant at the Pemex station in Marzatlan. By now I am getting pretty agressive in trying to talk to the people in Spansih and I figured out how to get him to tell me the word for full, to fill the tank, the word for name and directions to the cuota (toll road) to Tepec and a little about road conditions. He helps me wash the windows and I say adios to Hermando and muchous gratious.
The road from Marzatlan to Tepic is mostly two lane, no shoulder, big drop off and a white knuckle affair. The people were up to their crazy passing the whole way. It is definitely a pay attention road meeting trucks coming at you at 60 mph and no more than three feet between you and often I would swear it was 2 feet. Some of the trucks and autos are just junk! I mean they are putting along or roaring along and the wheels are whobbling!
As we headed for Tepic it started to get into the mountains which made the road even more interesting with the huge line up of cars stuck behind trucks or people like me! I was going the speed limit but it seems that is just a suggested speed. As we got to Tepic is is just awesome scenery. Fields on the mountain sides, flowers all over the places and bushes with flowers. Other than a lot of pollution in the air it one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. I have never seen anything remotely looking like this! It was more tropical looking but it was mountains. By Tepic we picked up the cuota and they were good! Very expensive but good. Cars would pass us going 80 mph.
Mexico reminds me so much of Ghana. Ghana is third world worse but Mexico is a close second. In Ghana there was some hope of communicating in English, here it is pretty much none existent along the road unless you get into tourist areas. Like Ghana it is third world with very modern things mixed right in. Lots of poor people and some very rich and not a lot of middle class. We seen a cow pulling a one bottom plow with a person walking behind and we seen huge tractors. We seen horses with wagons and people riding in the wagons right on the most main road in towns. There are buses everywhere in Mexico and the smoke is all over. They also burn the ditches a lot and no one is around watching them. They are just burning. You see lots and lots of people riding in the box of a pickup or standing in truck boxes. You see lots and lots of hand labor where it would be mechanized in the US. There are all kinds of little shops along the road selling all kinds of things or services. The boys at stop lights washing windows are really pests! There are people selling all sorts of stuff at stop lights and spped bumps, topes which are all over in Mexico. It seems like I have went over a 1000 topes and they are SERIOUS toopes.
We looked like we were going to be able to make Chapala before dark in good shape. It turned out with the mountains, even though the road was good our average speed dropped quite a bit. We got to Guadalajara and the traffic got real heavy. I will say the signs were great, up high and big and lots of them and they gave the road number to Chapala and what lane to be in for 20 miles before you got there. The GPS showed us right on the road. The only bad thing was lots of stop lighs and slow going. I will say I though the people there drove very sensible and one could move lanes and people respected that and I seen very little of the crazy passing; and lane switching. 2.5 million people live in Guadalajara. It has all the USA stores, good medical facilities and it is the second largest city in Mexico. The houses went as far as the eye could see. We made the turn south for Chapala and it was getting dark fast! We are enough farther east and the mountains to the west and what I noticed in Ghana that farther south when it starts to gett dark it gets dark fast!!! It was getting dark as we pulled over the hill and looked down on Chapala.
According to our instructions we were to take HWY 94 out of Chapala to Ajijic and we would come on to the Pal trailer park. We spotted a turn off to Ajijic and before long it turned into a very narrow oil road that looked like it was going out into the mountains and it did not say anything about Hwy 94 and we are now driving in the dark, a no no on this kind of road! A big no no. We decide this can not be right but we can not find a place to turn around. Finally there is a drive way into a gated place where some people lived and we pulled of and let the cars by. I pulled ahead and Edith did her flashlight thing as the battery in the radio was still dead. I charged it all night but did not have it plugged into the radio in the right place. I was a new radio to me and I was tired and just did not look closely enough the night before at the Pemex station. I get backed in the first shot and look and saw no one coming in either direction so I put on the flashers and pulled across the road. Much like the semi I told you about and jig jagged about twice and was able to make the turn back to where we came from.
We got back to the road into Chapala and head down along the lake and things are looking good and we are going by all the little shops and people are buying things and then we see a sign for Ajijic and take that street and pretty soon it starts looking like it is going no where. I stopped and talk to a guy and he can speak English and he gives me directions and our hope rises and we go ahead but we don't see what he is talking about and we have went way farther than he said so Edith is tired and upset and I am back to Guymas time and have to do some serious thinking as this is like looking for a needle in the hay stack. PLAN A is to turn on the two meter radio and see if I can raise anyone on .52 simplex. Plan B is get into the 5th wheel and get on the radio and get my E-mail and see if there is an E-mail from George XE1/ N9VIU who I have been in contact with since Phoenix who said there was room at PAL Trailer park and that I could put up my beam. At the Pemex station I had sent him an E-mail that we would be in Wednesday and for him to send me directions so I was hoping to have a message from him. Plan C was to go back to the Pemex station as we came into Chapala and see if I could get some good directions. Plan A worked and I made contact with a ham on .52 who moved me to .49 where George and some other hams monitor and they were going to talk us in, except they absolutely could not figure out where we were. We finally went back to the Pemix station after getting turned around, again Edith did a great job with the flashlight. We got back to the Pemix and now get this! We end up going down the same road we first took which after another 2 miles got us into what is called San Antonio and George got on his handheld and walked out the the road and the other hams guided us to the turn we had to make and there George was and we were about one block from the park and he had called so they waited at the office for us so we could check in. We just signed in and he told us to come back in the morning and let them know where we parkded and we could pay then. I asked him if we could pay by check since they did not take credit cards, nobody takes credit cards it seems in Mexico. George and I looked at some spots and I picked on where it looked like I could get my beam up and not get into a power line. Several were nice spots but a bare power line, very low was right by the trailer. The is a no, no when putting up and antenna! Here is the absolutely amazing thing. On the second road when they could not figure out where we were we were only about 1/2 mile from the park. They lesson of all this to me is to get the very best directions you can get and have them written down. ALSO BUY the book MEXICAN CAMPING by Church & Church and also buy a USA RV guide that has maps and directions in.
We got set up! Things were thrown all over the trailer from the days trip and the strap on the door broke and it slid across and wiped out the thermostat for the ceiling fan. That happened in Alaska also so a poor design. Jack's Campers will fix it correctly I am sure, the RV place in Anchorage just put the screw in right along side the old hole and it just ripped out! Amazing!
Part V coming up! Ed and Edith
[MID: 1314_W0SD Sent Via: W6IM Date: 2002/03/24 02:21:42]