Subject: Mexico Travelogue II Ed and Edith Gray

First a few things I did not mention that I wanted to the last time. I omitted one of the most important reasons to go to Mexico is that is truly warm here in the winter and you can go swimming, wear your shorts and actually sweat some. Don't get me wrong, AZ, TX etc. are nice but a 1000 miles down in Mexico are like nice spring or early summer days, it is truly warm. It cools down at night along the ocean and in the higher elevations but not much below 60 degrees and is 70-90 degrees during the day.

The kids go to school at different times, there are shifts so you see kids all the time but that does not mean they are skipping school it just is not their shift. If I remember correctly the first 6 grades are paid for by the government then it is on your own. More and more towns have secondary schools, adult education and extension colleges.

The other thing I forgot was all the selling that goes on in poor countries and Mexico is no exception. At Topes, stop lights and every place they can possibly make a sale people are selling things. We get waves of peddlers at the RV parks, water, bread, will wash your clothes for so much per Kilo, will wash you rig, tote, etc. all types of food, jewelry and that type of things. When you get of the tour bus, at each tourist spot, along the street and in towns it seems no matter where you go there are little stores most of them associated with their residence, at the PEMEX, even in restaurants they come through. A few places make them stay out but generally they allow them. It seems to be a definite part of the culture. Some; especially the windshield washers at stop lights are very aggressive. At some CG the kids will come in and work you for a handout. They like to have there pictures taken. We have been trying to not give away candy or money but rather pencils, pens, paper and other things they need that will do them good. These sellers are for the Mexican's more so than the tourists. It is the way of life down here.

The CG at Isle Aguana was nice, on the gulf, well shaded and kept up. It was the nicest CG so far. It had a dump which we did not get to use and they had water but the pressure was not very great so we just filled out tank. The electricity was `5 amp so we just dry camped which we have down all the way so far which is about 12 days and we have dumped once at Veracruz. Once we got set up according to our Mexican Camping book there are lots of shells here if you go back under the bridge we came in on and to the north and there were. Some little girls went with us a ways and helped fill Edith's shell buckets. We ended up getting two buckets full. There were literally millions of shells but most were small but there were some beautiful ones with many colors that were "TOP" shaped. We found a bakery and also a vegetable stand an I got by with my Spanish.

They next morning there was a lot of noise and about 15 motorcycle taxies pulled into the CG. We had a great tour of the town in Isle Aguana where they used motorcycles pulling a two wheel buggy with bicycle tires for taxi's. It has a covered roof and some side curtains to keep the sun partly off but you can see well. It has a padded bench chair. For 60 peso's,$6 for two they took us on an hour ride all over town and played Spanish music. It was not all that noisy or dusty so it was great. One of the best deals of the trip so far. Edith got buckets of shells at another beach location, most of them are extremely pretty. I visited with the owner here Thomas XE3CA an amateur radio operator and showed him pictures of my station. I of course got pictures of him and his antenna's and equipment. He had a nice, tall tower.

On the way to Isle Aguana we got separated and missed a turn. We knew is right away but could not recover from it because on the toll road it was divided and we could find no returno. In the future when in doubt I am going to try and stop right away and possibly we can back up. Anyway the people following us also missed the turn. We got down the road about 15 miles and still no returno but I saw a cut across the ditch as the road did not have a barricade between the lanes here. We got stopped past it but were able to back up on the shoulder. At that point we found it was not as good as it looked going by. I encourage our the other couple Tom and Gwen that we go ahead as I had notified Denny the tail gunner via radio so he knew where we were. I could not talk Tom out of it so he went first. I suggested taking it at an angle and trying to miss the deepest part. He took it straight on which for his travel tailer may of been the correct thing but anyway he got to far over and ended up going through the deepest part on the left hand side where I was standing. He had a diesel van which had lots of power which he needed as the van and trailer tipped toward each other in the bottom of the ditch but he had enough power to get up the other side. As the travel trailer started across the tires started going into the ditch. He has three axles. It was not long until the back of the trailer was dragging on the ground but it had skid plates that extended about 6-8 inches below the frame on each side about two feet from the rear bumper and his jacks are higher than these so they did not catch. So one tire come off, two tires and tree and as the trailer slides by me the wheels are about a foot off the ground and the sparks are flying from the skids hitting rocks. It looks like the skids are going to start into the ditch before the tires hit the ground and we are going to be hung up. Just as they trailer is about t to turn into a 34 foot bridge like in slow motion the first tire hits the dirt and starts rolling up hill, then the second and then the third and he is across. You have to understand parked on the pavement it is a low profile trailer about 18 inches of the ground. What a blessing for him to make it with no damage to his rig. He should of never tried it. I took it at an angle when no one was coming, missed the deep hole, went the wrong way for a little ways on the other lane until I got the 5th across and then turned in a U to get going the other way and had no problems but my clearance is about twice what his is.

We had great roads, the best of the trip to Campeche and the toll road was worthy of a toll road being just like I-90 other than not as much median. Huge shoulders and two lanes each way and controlled access. We were is a group by ourselves and when we got off the toll road the logbook was inadequate and a number though we were going the wrong way. I was leading and was pretty sure we were right because the GPS showed we were heading toward the ocean and our CG was on the ocean. We all pulled off on the shoulder and had a meeting and decided we were going correctly. Just as we were ready to go another of our group caught up and said we have to turn around and go back where we came from. He was just sure of it. We said we were going on ahead and he finally followed on behind. We were correct and made it into the CG.

Our wagon master and tail gunner have Mexican cell phones but the coverage is real spotty so far. They do work in the bigger towns. There is just the TELMEX phone in Mexico so it appears you don't get roaming charges. I have to check our phone but I know a few do get roaming coverage but we have be told it would be many $ per minute. Even the regular phones can be several dollars per minute back to the USA. On phone the Ladtel, part of TELMEX uses the European style phone card where you put it into the phone. Here is how you do it, lift the receiver, hit the ABC key to get an English display on the LCD and it will tell you to put in the phone card. You put it in with the arrow up, arrow first. It tells you how much money in peso's you have left and tells you to dial your number. For the USA you dial 001 605 425 2353 or whatever you want to dial. There appears to be an up front charge as my lowly 30 peso card immediately dropped to 18 peso's. I started talking to my Mom thinking at 5 peso's per minute I had about 6 minutes. Well I did not notice the front end charge so I really only had about 4 1/2 minutes and it does not give a warning as it counts down in increments. On the second 30 peso card I seen it jumped to 18 then around 12 and then to around 6 and "BANG" it is done, no warning. So when you see six tell the party you are talking to goodbye will be shortly when we get cut off.

Now for a real interest story. Right after the taxi ride we see another caravan coming into town to our CG. As in Veracruz it is a "TRACKS" caravan. Just earlier I had told Edith I wonder if anyone from SD had ever been here? Well now there sure has as we meet a lady that is a sister to Carol Sweeter Curtis who I have worked with for years in the Extension service and they are on this travelogue list and will soon be retiring. Now to top it off another lady comes running over and wants to know where about's in SD we are from as she is from SD. We said Salem and she says I go to Salem to see my sister. She is real loud, short, heavy set and to the point; now for you who are in Salem who do you think her sister might be in Salem. That's right "JOY"!

The CG at Campeche is like a USA one so for the first time in about 2 weeks we have hook ups. We hooked our sewer up and flushed and flushed and flushed while using the black tank sprinkler and also used our infamous clothes hanger down the stool while flushing the stool and after getting only clear water for a long time we pronounced it good! Hopefully we won't have another experience of the black water level being at the floor level of the stool!!! We even are hooked up to the 50 amp breakers and used our A/C as it was about 95 degrees out and humid and of course hotter in the 5th and there are no shade trees here and no sea breeze that early in the afternoon. This is by far the hottest day yet with the most humidity. We took long, long, long showers, purified 12 gallons of water and enjoyed our hookups. We did leave our refrigerator on propane as you never know if the voltage may jump around. It was 130 volts when I checked it before plugging in. We toured Campeche which we terrorized by pirates for years and many were killed before the Spanish government walled the city. Eventually the pirates were attacked and wiped out. They headquartered on an Island south of here called Isle De Carmen. We toured the fort that protected the town and then the walled city of which part of the wall remains. I got my stomach problems back but Edith was okay. It was hot and I had a fever so I had to grind the day out. We toured the old city, the market outside the city, got about 1/3 bushels of oranges for $3.50 and used the Internet for 30 minutes for under 50 cents. We also bought Panama Hats for $10.00. They are interesting in that you can roll them up in a roll, stuff it in you pocket and later take it out and reshape it and it appears no worse for the experience. It felt good in the sun. Up by the sea there was a nice breeze and it felt good. I did not eat anything other than I had a 7 up. We had to wait an extra half hour with the bus for the wife of our wagon master. She spent most of the afternoon waiting in line at the bank to pay for everyone's tourist visa. You take a number at a bank and Mexico and wait. It was payroll day for many and the previous day was a military holiday so the lines were very, very long. Last night it rained very hard several times. There was water everywhere this morning but it was cool and only got in the low 70's. I felt better this morning but still sucking one the "PEPTO". I am not complaining as I want to eat the Mexican food within reason for the roughly next two months we will be here and we will be to Mexico again next year so I might as well get immune to as much as I can Tomorrow we head for Xamul one of the 4 biggest ancient sites in Mexico. We will have about a week of dry camping ahead of us again. I did talk to our son Curt in AZ on the radio 3 times today. BTW the internet connection was fast, and they had the Internet Explorer browser but one thing that takes you by surprise is that some of the things I or you would need are not on the keyboard. I needed @ which the fellow in charge showed me is hold down the ALT key and type 64. The other was the ~ mark which is part of many web page addresses such as mine. It is gotten by holding down the ALT key and type 126. I noticed there are some others that were not on the keyboard so a word of warning you can save some time learning what these are before going to another country. I will pass on any others I bump into. Campeche had a great Mexican grocery store and has a Sam's Wal-Mart and Costco so things are easy to get. Sometimes you have to pay to park, other times no in their lots but is it very reasonable. Campeche is a nice town, there appears to be more money here and things were cleaner and better kept up; although in the market meat and fish were for the having but nearly all had no refrigeration, some had some ice. We have all the fresh, cold orange juice we can drink. Tomorrow we cross over into the State of Yucatan and there will be an agricultural check for eggs, pork and chicken. We should be OK.