Subject: Travelogue XI Ed and Edith Gray
About Guanajuato and Zacatecas:
Today we took the bus to Guanajuato which took longer than expected. The bus driver got word the normal route was closed due to a truck being across the road from an accident. We started of not being able to get out of the park gate so we all had to get off and walk to the front. We then went through a town with very narrow streets and got to an area he could not get through so we had to turn around and go back and then we started to take the libre and decided to turn around and take the cuota. We got in about 1 hour late. We stopped at the bus station to meet our guides and get into smaller buses as the A Guanajuato is a colonial mining town and is on hills and the streets are very narrow. As usual at the bus station you have to pay to use the bathrooms but our tour paid it for us. While we were there I checked the prices for first class bus fare around Mexico and clear to Puerto Valarta it was just over $50 so that would be a very reasonable way to travel as it is likely 800 miles to there so that would be 4 tanks of diesel or about the same as the bus fare so it is a definite possibility for sometime in the future and stay in budget hotels. We seen the Museum of Mummies; apparantly the water has so many minerals that the bodies buried above ground in crypts due to the solid rock cause the bodies to mummify. We then toured an abandoned mine. During the hay day of the mining they got about 10% silver and gold from the ore and that was in an 80 silver 20 gold ratio. Miners get mineral dust in there lungs and they have health problems. There has been improvements over the years but it still is a problem. Even today they only live into the 50's. We then had dinner overlooking the city and then went across town to the best look out in the city. We then went down town and did a walking tour. We seen some very nice churches one had a large silver block under a statue of Mary. It was about 2 x 2 x 4 feet. It was huge and was pure silver. Another church had 3 areas that were huge in area with all the figures gold leafed in 24 caret gold. We seen where Diego Rivera the famous Mexican artist was born and there was a lot of his art there and a number of pictures of his wife Frida Karlos. We toured the market place and headed home. The town has a multitude of cultural events and the University has had exchange programs for 50 years and its sister city is Ashland, Oregon. In the last 25 years they have build 25 tunnels through the mountains which make it much easier to get around. People come here from all over the world to study so there are a lot of foreigners here. The university is very middle of the line and will not tolerate any movements to the right or left and since you attend free you toe the line. Of course it is very, very hard to gain entrance. All construction has to fit the original architecture and all old building can not be changed only fixed as original. There is a new town being built about 10 miles west but in the old town nothing changes and no modern stores of any kind are allowed. The drive back to San Miguel De Allende is through mountain passes and by the huge lake by town and we seen rocky cliffs and it was very scenic and the air was very clear. It was a little smokey this morning and I think the wind blew some smog in from Mexico City but by night it was gone. The town of Quanajato also has a nice climate the year around like San Miguel De Allende. It is the capital and is bigger. I think San Miguel is more of a small town atmosphere and more Mexican but I think Quanajato has more cultural things going on due to the University and there 3 weeks of cultural entertainment of the best of the best from all over the world. A number of movies have been made hear and an office has been established by Hollywood and more movies are planned for these two towns.
For the Zacatecas tour we had a bus and went to a high hill in the middle of town and seen a beautiful chapel with everything covered in gold leaf. There were also three very nice bronze statues of Panca Villa and two other Mexican civil war heros when Mexico changed to a democracy. They were mounted on horses at least life size if not more. We then took a cable car across a portion of town. It is certainly a colonial city. We then toured a silver mine and checked out the marcado and had dinner. The Germans stayed downtown and said it is a very nice colonial town and was very neat and seemed very prosperous. They liked it much. It seems to be a reasonably quiet town and people seem very patient. Evie one of our group stepped through a grate and hurt her leg. She was treated and released. It was sprained and bruised but nothing broken or badly hurt and she is doing OK. Our tour we not what was expected as Adventure Caravans did not explain clearly what they wanted. We were supposed to tour downtown on a walking tour and also tour a Hacienda where they made silver. We went to Wal-Mart with Bob and Irene after the drivers meeting and had a good time. One thing to be noted Zacatecas is working hard on a clean up program to get and keep Zacatecas clean. The colonial cities are definitely the cleanest of anyplace in Mexico but they have a ways to go.
Tom and Gwen had axle trouble again but limped in and it was cracked and ready to finish breaking. This time it was the front wheel on the other side of the trailer. Dick our wagonmaster knew a policeman in town and got in touch with him and got Tom in touch with a welder. They came, took off both sides and the cross brace and hubs. They thought they had two days so late in the day when they did not ncome back they were contacted and they dropped everything to get it done. It was a mistake because of the language difference. The had it in a jig and used micrometers to be sure everything was true and square as they welded it. As they were putting the hubs together by generator light they ran out of gas so they finished it with candle light and then brought it out and installed it with car lights and flashlights for light. I used my big flashlight. The got done about 9 pm. The charged $75 to fix it and $40 for bringing it out and installing it. Tom was so thankful for such a reasonable price. It runs as true as can be so he is set to get back to Canada.
March 21, 2004 Wednesday, Day 61 of the RV Caravan and day 76 since we left home. This will be our last travel day together. I believe 7 rigs will leave a Monterry and head for Lorado, TX. We will leave the other direction, west to Durango and Chihuahua to go to Copper Canyon. We need to try and get state maps for Coahula and Durango in case it is not clear how to get through some of the towns. I will leave my business card with everyone and invite them to stop by. We had a good time traveling in our group of three for our last day together. We had the usual fun chatter on CB. We decided to have a picnic lunch along the road! All the truckers honked as they went by as well as some from our group. We had our portable picnic table, chairs and steak burgers, salad, salmon and on and on. We were stuffed. We got into camp in great shape. Early in the day Willy and Brenda's car hitch broke about 6 miles out so they drove back and Denny was waiting as he got the word from us via two meters. He took them to the same shop they took Tom and got it welded and beefed up. Larry and Carol had a water fitting to their hot water heat bust and lost there water but got it fixed and refilled their water.
When we arrived we unhooked and drove over into the state of Neuvo Leon a ways and then headed back and could not find our by pass turn but Edith figured out where we were on the map and we got back by 5 pm. We had a going away supper of things people would have taken away at the border. It was great and a drivers meeting which did not apply to us. We had to sign a form we were leaving the tour in the morning. We said good bye to everyone which was tough as we all have bonded well with 62 days of travel though a lot of challenges and everyone has been easy to like. To me to have this many people get along is a great tribute to the people involved. I gave the Wagonmaster the GPS coordinates for all the CG we stayed at. We made special friends with our travel group of Harold and Joyce and Bruce and Eunice and also with Denny and Donna our Tailgunners and all the visiting we did with the Wagonmaster and information we got from Dick and Becky.