Trip Start Jan 02, 2010
17Trip End Mar 17, 2010
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Where I stayed
From Comalcalco we crossed Mexico at its narrowest point on Highway 185. Lloyd's 5th wheel brakes went out while crossing the mountains but thank goodness his truck brakes were strong enough to handle the trailer.
The campground, Santa Teresa Trailer Park, where we planned to stay on the southwestern edge of the country in the little town of Tehuantepec was difficult to find and not really in operation but they let us spend the night. If Bert hadn’t known it existed and had a rough idea of where it was we would never have found it.
A long day’s drive through high mountains and across the Continental Divide took us to the little town of Tule, just south of Oaxaca
In Tule we camped in a lovely green field hidden behind a big locked gate, which Bert remembered from his Wagon master days. During our four nights of dry camping there we explored the city of Oaxaca, the Ruins at Monte Alban, which is the ancient Zapotec capital, and then the ruins at Mitla with its intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs. The highlight of our visit in Oaxaca was a trip to the weaver’s village, Teotitlán del Valle, where the Zapotec Indians weave 100% wool rugs with beautiful designs, and incredibly low prices. They spin their own wool and dye it using natural dyes. Several of the weavers demonstrated their weaving and one weaver crushed a cochineal bug in Patty’s hand so we could see the beautiful red color that results; then he added things like lime juice to the red to make orange and went through a list of natural items he could add to make different colors.
If you are looking for an area rug of any size it would be worth it to fly down, rent a hotel, buy the rug and fly home again – all for probably less than you would pay for such a rug at home
Iler’s rig had been losing power all the way over the mountains so he had to drive it through the nightmarish hell of Oaxaca traffic to get it repaired. He was afraid it was an electronic problem that would hold us up for awhile but Mexico has excellent mechanics and they found the problem to be a hole in a hose that could easily be fixed. Seventy-Five dollars later, the Great Mothership was good as new. I say nightmarish hell to describe Oaxaca traffic because that is exactly what it is, as is the traffic in any Mexican city. If you visit Mexico Don’t drive a vehicle – not a car or a motorhome of any size through a city if you can avoid it!!!! Public transportation is good and taxis are very cheap. You can get just about anywhere using them. In the cities traffic zooms around in all directions while buses, pedi-cabs, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and maybe even a horse dart in and out amongst the vehicles
Another highlight of our visit to Oaxaca was a visit to the Zocolo (city square) on a Saturday night. We sat on the upstairs balcony of a restaurant having dinner and sipping wine as mariachi bands played below us, vendors circulated with their colorful wares and families sat on park benches enjoying the festivities.
Since we had to drive through Oaxaca to continue our trip north on Highway 190 to Cuernavaca we left early Sunday morning for the 12 hour drive ahead of us. Up and over tall mountains Lloyds trailer brakes went out again. We stopped at a Pemex where the four guys discovered a leak, tightened the fitting and replaced the fluid; an easy fix. Continuing on, the brakes didn’t cause any more trouble.
Nearing Cuernavaca we attempted to take a bypass so we wouldn’t have to go through town. Of course we got lost again. We are all cussing our GPS systems, which are pretty much useless down here. Even the AAA maps are not reliable. Stuck behind a slow moving cane truck doing 10 mph, it was dark when we found an abandoned LP gas station with enough room for all of us to park. The police soon found us there and stopped to investigate. I used that magic word again "perdido" and asked if we could spend the night. Given their assurance that it would be all right we turned in early for a very quiet night and found our campground in the morning.
We spent our first day in Cuernavaca at the orphanage that John and Betty help sponsor (Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos). The tour took most of the day, as it is a very large Spanish style building with its own farmlands where they grow much of their own food. There are presently 550 children there, some with no family but more who come from families who are too poor to care for them. This was a school day so the kids were all in class, but we were able to interact with them while they played at recess. The children also do chores on the farm and are taught to take care of themselves. Even the kindergarteners do their own laundry (with much help from adults). We were amazed at the warm family atmosphere of this organization, which provides its residents with a family for the rest of their lives
After the children graduate from High School they are encouraged to give a year of service to the school and if they give back 2 years, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos sends them to collage with all their costs covered.
We met several of the volunteers who come from all over the world to help care for these children and each volunteer bubbles with enthusiasm for the work they are doing. Most of the financing for the organization comes from Europe, Canada, Mexico & the United States. For only $30 a month you can sponsor a child yourself and we saw first hand just how much each sponsor means to each child and how close the bond between child and sponsor becomes. Kelly said the children really prize letters and photographs of godparents who make them feel that they are important to this world. If you would like more information about this orphanage you may visit their website at www.nph.org .
We spent the next two days touring nearby Cuernavaca with its rich historical history and Taxco, considered one of the most photogenic Cities in Mexico; not to mention its silver mines and world renown silver outlet stores.
We took out last hot water showers at the Campestre campground, the best we have seen in Mexico, and will head towards Guadalajara and then the Pacific Coast. We will be dry camping tomorrow night and who knows after that.