Retirement Life of

Ed & Edith Gray



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2004 Trip to MEXICO January 2004 through March 2004. This trip of over 5000 miles went through all but 6 states of Mexico. We entered Mexico at Pharr, TX with Adventure Caravans and went down the east coast along the gulf and then west and northwest to Campeche and north to Merida. From there we went west to Cancun, south to Belize and then back east to Palenque. From there we had to go back to Villahermosa and then south to Tehuamtepec and then took Highway 200 along the Pacific ocean to Acapulco and then headed north to the Mexico City area, From there we continued north to San Miguel de Allende and vacinity and then to Zacetecas and Saltillo. From here we left the caravan and went on our own to Chihuahua and then Creel and the Copper Canyon area. I tried to give a lot of background but if you want more be sure and check out the text of the e-mail travelogue links found here and also the my daily travelogue although they contain some personal notes they really give a lot of detail about what we seen and did each day. If you want to know more about any of these places I have included some links but in additon I would highly recommend you use a search engine like Google and type in words that you find by the pictures or in the travelogues and they will take you to a wealth of information about what we seen and did in Mexico. Following after the travelogue links are pictures in the order of our travel from our nearly 70 day trip in Mexico. You can reference them to the e-mail travelogues and easily to the daily travelogues because they are in the order of travel. I hope you enjoy them! If you have questions about places that we were feel free to e-mail us.

Link to2004 Mexico Trip travelogue

Link to2004 Mexico Trip e-mail travelogues

Some of our RV caravan at our first campground stop in Mexico near La Pesca. East of town there were many palapas and a great beach right on the gulf. As you would expect south of Pharr Texas the landscape stays the same for awhile but soon you see a lot more vegetation and more raising of fruit and vegetables. As we got closer to La Pesca it got more hilly and more trees and we seen ranches raising cattle.

My Spanish was good enough to visit with a local and line up a tour for two boat loads of people out of our group, We toured a river and delta area into the gulf of Mexico. We seen the birds in this picture and many other including some flamingos. There is also some duck hunting in this area by US hunters especially from Texas

We had a bus tour out of Poza Rica and went to a Totonac Indian Village and seen a mock traditional Indian wedding and dancing and then walked around the town. This picture is of some meat for sale at one of the street side stands. We seen cattle raising, small plots of fruit, vegetables and corn and sugar cane. Many of us got sick that evening apparently from the meal here. We had diareha in a bad way!

On the way back to Poza Rica we stopped at El Tajin a very early Totonac Indian site pre-Mayan. We also seen the Papantla Flyers who still do their ancient religous ceremony which has been modified to a more modern pole.

The beach by our RV park at Veracruz. Mexican beaches are owned by the government and are open to the public a ways back from the high tide mark and then there is private property. Here the public beach went back a long ways with restuarants up next to the public beaches. Mexican families like to go to the beach for week ends and holidays and eat and drink, lay around and swim. This is one of the better beaches on the east coast which really does not have very many good beaches. Veracruz is the best seaport in Mexico and really the only good one on the whole east coast. It is where Cortez landed and many battles have been fought with other nations over control. We toured a very old fort where these battles were fought. There is a huge Volkswagon plant here and they are exported via ships from here. We noticed that things were much more prosperous here for the people than what we had seen coming down the east coast in the many small towns and rural area. This is a big area for sugar cane.

There are many, many statues in Mexico. This was about the olympics that was in Mexico I believe in the 60's and was near a very big bridge on the way to Villahermosa. We stopped here for a break and I was interviewed and had some picture taken of us and they asked us question about our travels in Mexico for their paper which they were reporters for. They spoke some English and we spoke some Spanish and communicated. There are many round abouts called glorieta's in Mexico and they almost all have a statute in the center.

Edith picked up many shells here along the beaches around Isla Aguada which is along some islands before you start to head northeast to Campeche.

Everyone in our RV group had a bicycle taxi ride of about 2 hours around the town of Isla Aguada. It was a fishing village and the people were very poor and the housing was very primative. There were some nice beaches here. We did find a good bakery here with very cheap prices. The unusual thing about bakeries in Mexico is they bake in the morning and things go on sale in the later part of the afternoon and early evening. We found lots of bakeries in Mexico in almost every town, some not very big. Bread and some other baked goods were sold by street vendors as well. You soon learn you can buy almost anything at street stands or on the street from vendors pushing carts. They came into our RV parks all the time. I used my Spanish and purchased from fruit and vegetables here and learned the Spanish names for a number of them

Campeche founded in 1540 is along the Yucatan Penn. coast but of course in the state of Campeche. In the 16th and 17th centuries they had great problems with the pirates attacking and looting and killing. Evenually they got the Spanish crown to finance the building of a walled city here which finally stopped the attacks. We toured a fort here and the old walled city where some of the walls still stand. We shopped in a huge market and got some oranges here and used the Internet. Internet places are all over in Mexico even in very small towns and very reasonable. One thing is the key boards are different so it can be difficult to do certain keys as they are not there. One had to get the attendand to help you and sometimes they had to do a lot of messing around to figure out what key stokes equalled what one wants done. It was a very long day for me as a had a relapse of the problems we picked up at Poza Rica. I had some fever as well!

There are three churches in Mexico that have "BLACK" Christs in the church. This is one of them! About 90% of the Mexican people are Roman Catholics. In Mexico typically the high class families trace themselves back to Spain. They typically have light complexion. In fact I was amazed by the number of Mexican's we seen that had light complextion and looked just like someone from the United States. The other Mexicans were darker and many had married Indians and are called Mestizos, mixed blood and they could be very dark. There were also a number of black people as there were a number of black slaves that the Spaniards brought in.

This is the Great Pyramid at Uxmal Mayan site. It is considered by most to be one of the top three Mayan sites in Mexico. There are many structures here. There is also a night light show with lights of different colors being shown on the different structures. The is normally head phones for an English translation but they were out for service when we were there.

A picture of artwork at Uxmal. There is a lot of art work at this site. If you go to Cancun try and go to this site or Chichen Itza or better yet both and you will have a good sampling of what the Mayan culture was like.

The Mayan ball court at Xumal. Every Mayan site seems to have one, up to many ball courts. It was a very important part of their culture. There are various opinions on whether the winners or losers were sacrificed to the God's. After listening about their culture I would tend to believe the story that it was the winners but likely we will never know because the Spanish conquerors destroyed important writings about the culture or we would of know a lot more and would of been able to read more of their writings. It is estimated that certain scientists can read about 50% of their picture type writing.

There were many Iguana here. If their tail is cut off it regrows. Many are eaten but it is my understanding they are protected at these sites. They sure were tame enough

These were large flamingoes where the ones we seen at La Pesca were about 1/3 of the size of these and not as pink. These were along the gulf coast east of Persidio which is a seaport north of Merida. The weather in the Yucatan is brutally hot and humid from May through September so people in Merida try and escape to the cooler coast in this area. The port is shallow so they had to build way out into the ocean with a road and pier so boats would have enough water to dock. They do have cruise ships coming now. It was used as a port for Hemp which had it's economic peak in the late 1800's and very early 1900's. Merida was central in its production and much of the wealth in this area has been handed down from those empires. Other wealth has moved in as it is considered a high class place to live and lots of people have moved there from Mexico City. There are many million dollar homes in Merida and in the last 10-15 years many American stores have moved in so everything is available. Things seemed quite prosperous here although there were poor parts of town. A number of Canadians winter at Progresso. You are not in Mexico long until you realize that a lot of Canadians make Mexico there winter home, much more than US citizens.

The Flamingo Restaurant in Progresso. There was good seafood here, lots of Canadians ate here and the waiters were fun and could speak good English. We had a great visit with a Canadian couple who if you get our travelogue were the ones that pertended like they knew Bruce who was part of our group but really they just seen his name tag. They were very informative and fun to visit with. Believe it or not some of our group bumped into them again way south of Cancun which is a long ways from here.

This called the Sun Temple and is at the Dzibilchaltun Mayan site. Boy! it was hot here that day. There are several structures here and this site was continuously occupied from 500 BC until the Spanish came in 1540. This makes it one of the longest if not the longest continuously occupied site. It was used for salt production for many years. The Mayans had a great knowledge of the stars, planets and the sun and moon and seasons. This sun temple was constructed so the sun shows right through this window at sunrise on March 21 and September 21 the equinox days. If you want to see a picture of the sun blazing through the open arch and read more about this go to URLlinkSorry this is a scanned picture and with the bright sun it was impossible to get a good picture.

Izamul is a city on the way(off the road some) to Chichen Itza from Merida. This is a picture of the Franciscan Convent built in 1562. There is also a huge nearby ancient Mayan site. It has one of the largest walled court yards in the world. There is a good deal of colonial construction in the town.

A stain glass window in the church

Another stain glass window in the chuch.

A cemetary along the road to Chichen Itza. Most of the cemeteries in Mexico are of this type but of course many are not so fancy. They often have fresh flowers displayed and have various holidays where the dead are honored. Easter is a two week long event with pilgrimages and celebrations and many special church services, much fireworks and familiy events. Christmas is also a long holiday but not like Easter. The family unit is very, very strong in Mexico

These are true Mayan people who did a traditional Mayan dance.

This is The Castle at Chichen Itza the most famous Mayan site in Mexico and the most visited as it is a day tour out of Cancun. This may be the last year(2004) where you can go inside at the bottom and up a stairway to see a room where the Mayan's had made a jaguar out of Jade. It was already hot and it was only February. It gets terribly hot and humid here in the summer! The whole area is rolling hills with a semi-tropical jungle of brush and medium height trees all deciduous and limestone outcroppings

The observatory that the Mayan's priests used to study astronomy. It is though they might of had water around the tower where they could look at the stars reflections in the water

Group of the thousand columns. There were also some square columns in one area

Picture from on top of The Castle toward the Group of the thousand columns

The ball court at Chichen Itza, the largest ball court we seen anyplace

The beach at Cancun. Cancun is a nice place to go to but IT IS NOT MEXICO but rather just a tourist place with nice beaches, snorkeling, etc. but you get a totally warped idea of what Mexico is if you just go here. I would suggest going south of Cancun and stay at a resort there and go into some of the towns. Still not Mexico but it is closer! Don't get me wrong a nice place to go in the winter and very pretty, just not Mexico!

Another View of the beach at Cancun. The water is turquoise and has other colors mixed in and the sand is very nice so it has great beaches!

Isle Mujeres I would recommend. Rent a motorcycle or golf cart and tour the island and spend some time on the beach or go snorkeling. Very touristy but it is pretty!

The beach at Paamul RV park. Really not a good swimming beach but a great area to snorkel or dive as the corral reef goes for miles along the west coast of the Yucatan. Many Canadians and Americans winter here and build a palapa over there trailer. Some trailers are permanent and others come and go. Definitely would be a reasonable place to park for the winter and spaces are available. We suffered from electrical problems but a heavy service is being put in so by 2004/2005 winter it should be done. There will be a new Sam's just to the north at Playa Del Carmen a good internet place and a good laundry right by the park and and easy ride over to Cozumel. Some drive their RV's down each year while others have permanent trailers and just fly down to Cancun and take the bus or a taxi out. Most of them buy a vehicle and leave it there so they have wheels. If you want a warm winter for a cheap price with nice scenery this is about as good as it gets on the west coast. This would be the carribean here rather than the gulf and it is much prettier. A little less than one mile north is a large sand beach where you can swim. Fishing is also good in the area. There is also crafts, horseshoe and volley ball at the park and people are friendly

There are two attractions nearby Xcaret and Xel HA (shell ha) which are tourist places. Xcaret is like the Disneyworld of Mexico and has sea and animal life. We spent the day there if you want to know more check out Link The evening show was nice and we seen a Mayan ball game and many other things at the show. We liked XEl Ha better as everything was included and you could eat breakfast, dinner and supper, much better program of playing with the dolphins; although you should sign up ahead and great snorkeling. Not the variety of things to do but we liked it better, seemed less touristy! You can check it out at LinkBoth can be visited from Cancun but are a good distance south. One would be better is he were at a resort down toward Playa Del Carmin then you could also see Tulum and Cobra two nice Mayan sites.

Coba Mayan site, I would say the 4th or 5th best Mayan site in Mexico. We met some other people here who we did not know but got together with them and hired a guide. I definitely recommend doing this as it does not cost much if you can get 6-8 people to split the cost and the group is small so you can all hear and ask questions. We drank a lot of water here, it was hot, in the high 90's!

Tulum Mayan site, considered to be one of the big four. Actually it may be over rated but likely gets this high of a ranking because it is right on the carribean and you can see it for miles as you sail by. Of course the view from the site out over the ocean is great. Also since it is a day trip out of Cancun lots of people see it. It was even hotter here than at Coba, right at 100 degrees! There is a nice beach here.

This is Peggy of our group being pushed up by two dolphins at Xel ha, they really considered their hour with the dolphins a highlight of their Mexican adventure. If I remember right it is about $100 per person by the time you buy your video of yourself and the group.

Scene on Cozumel, we rented scooters and toured with two other couples! Definitely seen the island

Not a good picture but it is a very, very common thing to have festivals in Mexico with parades so it is important to show this picture. The costumes are colorful, it is very festive, the music loud with most of the floats having generators on them to power the lights and amplifiers for the music. If you go to Mexico try your best to get to some festivals.carnavals They are a intregal part of Mexican society

Again not the greatest picture as these usually occured inside or outside as it was getting dark but these are one of the many Mariachis groups which are famous in Mexico and definitely a part of Mexican culture. If you go to Mexico you need to listen to several Mariachis groups if at all possible. They originated out of Guadalajara but their exact origin of how this got started has two or three versions.

Sign as we entered the country of Belize

Going up the river to the Mayan site Lamanai. This was definitely jungle. This is a shot of a mennonite father and sun fishing. They settled here early in the last century and have been very successful farmers and supply a lot of the food for Belize.

Jungle shot at Lamanai Belize which BTW is a good Mayan site.

Another jungle site from Lamanai Belize

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