Friday, April 21, 2017

San Luis Potosi to Matehuala

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We packed up on Sunday to head back home.   We went for a dip in the hot springs pool first before getting cleaned up.  The water felt so good.  When you´re boondocking the showers are very short.  I like showering in the trailer and not in public places, not because people pee in the shower but because I like my house that´s why we drag it around wherever we go!

Off we went saying goodbye to the nice people who cared for us at the San Diego balneario.  The road to Matehuala was great.  There was one section that was a bit rough but we enjoyed the morning.  As we pulled into the Oasis Hotel around 2:30 we couldn't find anyone there.  We set up in our usual spot.  Nap time rolled around and after we went for a walk into town.   We got lucky.  This was the last weekend of the Charamuscas festival.  




We stopped by the cathedral to take a peek.  This was built in the 1800s and remodeled in 1974.  The first cathedral built in 1850 was made with poor materials not to mention poor architectural design as well. It was demolished.  The new cathedral was designed by Adamo Boari who also designed and built Bellas Artes in Mexico City.  Truly amazing work and a wonderful feeling it gives you when you walk in.



As we walked around town we looked for the plaza where the Charamusco festival was held.  Found it by asking a few people on the street.   Amazing how much sugar must have been used to create all the candy in that one place.   Here's a pic to best describe a charamusca.



While we were gawking at all the stands a guy approached me.  He said, "are you Maestro Bauer from UDP?" Turns out he was at my conference at last year's national teachers convention.  He took us to his stand to introduce us to his mother and sisters.  You never know who's watching.  Back home for dinner and off to bed with a good movie.



Up early we hit the road with the idea that we would spend a day and night at our rustic resort.  Many rvers have stayed there over the years.  It was Semana Santa that Norma and Croft were with us.  They were heading home and we met there.   Rained all week.  We had fun though.   Sure hope they return to Mexico soon.

Recent rains have brought out the best of the desert.  We captured this picture of flor de palma, actually yucca, that is used in many Mexican dishes.  I love it with eggs or beans and chorizo. Delicious.



After crossing the mountains we stopped at the El Nogalar in Linares for lunch.  Great park and although the hours are from 7 to 7 the tourist office is there.  Upon request, they will let you stay overnight although you'll be locked in for the night.  Safe, clean and great for an evening walk around.  The Soriana is a few blocks away.



Made it to Montemorelos before a huge storm set in.  The rest tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Villa de Reyes, San Luis Potosi

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The main plaza en Villa de Reyes.


Wow, not having internet can be a bummer these days.  I had access via my cell phone but that's way too small of a screen and keyboard to do the blog.   Here's how things went down.  I can tell you that we are home now but I will have another blog post or two regarding the trip.   The trip was a text book case, not a hitch ( no pun intended), not a problem, no transito issues or towing issues.   When we arrived home today at noon I backed that puppy right into the driveway on the first try (I almost always do).   Steve, I don't know how, but I have a good eye for getting the rv into the driveway.

After we left Mexquitin, we headed down Hwy 49 towards San Luis Potosi.   A short drive to the periferico which is Hwy 32.   We took a bit of a short cut after stopping twice to ask questions.   The periferico goes around the city of SLP to the north, northeast and then south.   We wanted to be on Hwy 57 but there is the business loop and the interstate (so to speak).   I know from working in SLP over the years that you cannot take the business loop with an rv. 

We started out on the periferico.  Peter had told us that they may, not always so don't take this as bible, stop you looking for something wrong.  I was a bit paranoid but we headed out anyway.  Based on what we had hoped was good advice from a parador gas station, that the bridges were taboo and to use the lateral except for the third bridge.  "Take the third bridge because the lateral is being worked on and you can't get through.  Transito knows this so no issues".   That's exactly how it went down.  We continued on to Hwy 57 business loop and it is clearly marked for "trafico pesado" to take the laterals.  We did and had no issues.



Villa de Reyes is about an hour and a half (driving 80 kms as I do now) from SLP.   It was a leisurely drive and the signage is well-marked.   From the 57 to the town of Villa de Reyes is 30 minutes.   All great road and no issues.  

 A huge camping area that can handle any size rig through the gates.  Buses came into to unload youth groups.   They sell gorditas for eight pesos, tacos, beer and you can have your own fire or grill.

There are several pools.  All of them are drained and filled everyday.   The water is hotter than that at La Gruta in San Miguel de Allende.   This pic was taken in the early morning hours so it wasn't full of people yet.  Very relaxing though and I have to say that the kids were well-behaved.   



Upon arrival we knew we were heading into the heat of Semana Santa and three well-known balnearios.   We did and we visited each one to check them out.  The first, Centenario, did deserve a stop.  Second up was San Diego.   We liked it but went on to the third, El Gogorron.   Very nice and I wish we had stayed there but it was 300 per person.  High season and they get it.  The placed was packed.  It has a hotel which is 2800 pesos per night family of four all meals included.  The hotel had been booked for months.   Top drawer. 

We parked on the far left side of the field.  It was quieter and I slept pretty good.  We were parked under some huge eucalyptus trees.   Good thing because Saturday late afternoon we had a hail storm.  I had disconnected the SUV from the trailer so when it started I moved it under a fuller tree.  The hail turned out to be between pea and gumball size.   No damage but a lot of commotion.



We headed back to number two, San Diego, and it was perfect.  Still pricey at 140 per person camping and balneario included.  We couldn't boondock with the cat and also do any exploring.  I didn't care much for the raza (the local people).    We had a great time and the price actually dropped our second night as things were winding down.   The aguas termales (hot springs) were the best.   Crowded as it was, as noisy as the music was, I slept well both nights.   The place is very nice and I am sure when it is low season even better.   Good thing I didn't have a sledge hammer though.  One woman had a speaker that is called the 2500 Watt and is good for up to, get this, 300 meters or 900 feet.   She played that damn thing 24/7.   She smiled the whole time.  Needless to say there was no conversation at her site and we were far away.  I don't get excited much anymore with those things.

The town of Villa de Reyes is very nice although the people are a bit stand offish.  Maybe cause I was the only gringo there and at the balneario.  I did get a laugh though in the pool when Juan took my picture and I jumped out of the water and he yelled, "boobies".   The girls thought it was funny.

Typical town with its cathedral and main plaza.   We did a bit of window shopping, sitting in the plaza and walking around.   We try to get 6 to 8 kms of walking everyday apart from general moving around.   Nice place but San Luis outside of its mountains is not my favorite state.   Xilitla, Aquismon, Tam Lajas, those are places to be seen and cherished.   

I think this area is worth a visit and the balneario San Diego is too.   Great camping and with little to no crowds it is very attractive not to mention the lower off season prices.

To end this blog post for today, we arrived home at 11:30 this morning.  I'll explain all that later.  At 6 p.m. I still haven't seen Little Bit since we got home (he traveled with us).  I found him sitting in the rv and he hasn't moved yet.   Hmm, maybe if I do that someone will get the idea about traveling more frequently.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Town of Mexquitic

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(We have been without internet for a few days.   Traveling to Villa de Reyes and staying at a balneario.  It was a typical Mexican Semana Santa but I'll tell you all about it next.  This is Mexquitic)


History is amazing.  No matter what town you visit in any country there is a story.  The same is true here in Mexquitic.  It looks like any other Mexican town.  It has a church, town square, old cobblestone on some parts of the streets, old men sitting around chewing the fat, and kids playing in the street.   Venders are ever so present and they sell just about everything under the sun.  



On this day in Mexquitic the venders were selling pan para bendicion or bread for blessing.  It´s a round bread, not very sweet and the town´s people carry on the procession through the streets as they stop at each of the stations of the cross that have been set up in front of people´s houses.  You can eat the bread but it is more of an offering.   We were there as the town passed along the streets.   A monstrance is carried on a litter (like that used to carry a pharoah)  The priest leads the group and at each station he removes the monstrance and places it on the small altar.  He begins to pray and the crowds follow along.  He then spreads the smoke from the incense burner.   

The back part of the church which was the original part of the convent.  Makes you wonder what went on 350 years ago.



Funny how culture and lives can be changed by the invasion of a few Spanairds.   The town of Mexquitic was ¨founded¨  (if you can call it that) by a group of nuns.   Founded in 1590, a convent was the new beginning for the Chichimecas.  Also, Mexquitin is the home of the first constitution of the state of San Luis Potosi.

The walkway across the dam.


We bought some veggies at a local store (aborrotes) and went for a walk to the dam that crosses the now dry presa or reservoir.   The presa is dry because they discovered a huge crack in the dam.  The dam was built in 1928 as part of the reconstruction after the revolution.  

This is the lake today.  Empty and dry.  You would think it to be full of junk and trash but it isn't.


Not a lot to do in the little town but it deserves a walk through.  It´s obvious that most if not all of the town is indigenous and they live, work and also die there.  I was told too that when the presa was drained they had to remove sand and dirt to make it deeper and also get to the bottom of the dam.  The local indigenous people said it was their dirt and refused to let them continue work.  After some months of negotiations they agreed.  That said, they lost out on valuable rains that would have helped considerable to fill the lake again.  Now, the businesses that relied on the lake to bring tourists on local holidays are all closed.  Just like the rv park, it´s empty now.

Beautiful sunset on our 6 km walk around the outside of town.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tour of San Luis Potosi

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Interesting that this may look like Ku Klux Klan week but it's not.  This is a costume used during the procession of Holy .   The costumes represent different religious brotherhoods and was started during the colonial period by the Carmelites.   Kind of scary though when you come from a culture where this costume represents racism to its extreme form.


The kiosk in the main plaza de armas.  Beautiful plaza full of life during this vacation period.


The theater of the city built in the mid 1800s.  Used today for local and city events as well as concerts, symphonies and theater play productions.


Would you believe that this was actually someone's house?  It was constructed by Don Ramon Marti.   After he passed away his children lost interest in the place and sold it off to the city.  In 1982 it was restored to its original condition.  The first floor had been used as city offices but upstairs remained in its original state.  The museum now houses a series of Mexican masks from around the country as well as the world.  We paid 10 pesos for a private tour.  Very interesting and informative.  There is also a mask museum in Zacatecas.  I'm investigating exactly who Don Marti was.  I am assuming he was a cattleman or owned a family mining company.

Too many pictures to post.  This was the family living room.  Can you imagine the wealth of this family during the 1800s.  Incredible. 


Like all Mexican colonial cities, they are formed around cathedrals, convents and monestaries.  So many examples here in San Luis.  Amazing the art work and craftsmanship dedicated to detail.

May be hard to see but you can click to see the details.  The buildings in the back show the architecture of the 1950s.  On the left is the Sears building.  Very similar to the Sears in Mexico City located in front of Bellas Artes.


This is a side vestibule in the main cathedral downtown dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.


We've decided to move on tomorrow for Villa de Reyes.  This town is located about an hour and a half from Mexquitic where the rv park is located.  Villa de Reyes is part of the Parque Nacional Gogorron.  There are three balnearios we will check out that all have hot springs baths, swimming and camping.  We will call again in the morning before heading out.  We tried today but it was after six. 

This rv park is nice for a night or two.  Too far from the city to make the trip everyday.  There is public transport but it takes forever.  The San Luis is worth the trip.  Apparently, the Easter celebration is a big to do here.  Tickets for seats along the procession route cost up to 200 pesos for the best seats.  Balconies can be rented also.  We may come next year but stay in a hotel downtown. 

Tomorrow I'll try to post about Mexquitin.   It has a wonderful history including the story behind the presa or the lake that is now dry.

San Luis Es Bonita

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"San Luis es bonita".  That's how the song goes and it's pretty much on target.  Like all big cities it has its good, bad and ugly sides.   

We found our way to the rv park although we had to take a short trip via autopista but it appears it is the only route to get there with the rv.  We are checking again today.  We took the new libramiento which is free but from there we entered the quota to Zacatecas.    

We found the park although it is a bit obscure.  It is called Peter's El Faro Trailer Park.  We stopped and asked twice and no one knew about it until we said Don Peter.  Then it all came to light.  The "faro" or lighthouse does exist but it is inside the park.  You can't see it from the road.  Easy access though and all the highway and streets in the town are in excellent condition.  There is a presa or lake next to the rv park but it is dry.   No visitors this year for Spring break.\

We settled in and set up the rv.  The owner wasn't here at the time but his daughters were watching the place.   There are some permanent rvers here but I don't know yet if they are in storage, out of towners, or Mexicans who own rvs.

After a nice nap and check of the web, we headed into town.  Very easy to get to the "centro"of San Luis Potosi.   A direct shot but it is 25 kms and takes about half an hour.   Not for us.   Heading downtown we could see storm clouds brewing.   Paid parking is everywhere and reasonable.   We found one, parked and began touring the main square.  Lots of activities going on for the Semana Santa crowd.   Churches are full and the square teaming with activities.

With the threat of a storm we didn't stay but more than two hours before heading back and it rained like a slow divorce.   It took us an  extra 10 minutes tour get back home where we had a nice happy hour and a rice dish for dinner followed by a couple Golden Girls episodes.

This morning we will head back down to centro to visit some museums and take more pictures.  The plan after that is to come back early afternoon to check email (the wifi is pretty good here at our site) and then check out the town of Mexquitic and then off to bed.  We'll head out torrrow for parts unknown.   I'd like to stay longer and tour the  city more but the park is too far away for our liking.  We can't boondock because we have the cat with us and don't want to leave the rv parked alone near a big city.

San Luis is worth a visit though and I'll be posting more about it this week.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hotel Oasis Matehuala, SLP

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Up and out early this morning.  We hit the road with the rv in tow around 8 a.m.   Surprisingly, there was little to no traffic in Santiago considering it is the beginning of Spring break.  The usual stop for gas and up the tires and off we went.   Gray skies all the way across the mountains.   

Most of you know the route we take and you´ve probably taken it going from Linares across to Hwy 57.   As always, clouds or not it was a relaxing drive.   I´ve learned to slow down since we aren´t in a hurry much anymore.   We stopped at a stand in Iturbide,  Nuevo Leon halfway across the mountains for a mid-morning snack.   The best gorditas we´ve had in a long time.   We each had two. 

Parked in front of was once a tequila producer in Linares.  We stopped in front of the city park, El Nogalar, located on the right turn off of Hwy 85 heading into the mountains.  The park is open to the public, has a swimming pool, palapas, a tourist office, and you can spend the night for free.  Don't forget that we have a place in Montemorelos with three pools, tennis and a club house.  Always open to rving friends with no obligation.   


Little Bit slept most of the way.   Like I´ve said, at 17 yrs old he has his good days and bad days.   Now that we´re parked at the hotel he has lots of energy to go out and explore.  Funny kid that one.  I guess he takes after me.   Coming down to San Roberto and Hwy 57 the sun came out in all its glory.  There were lots of Federales on the prowl stopping speeders and cars without plates.  I kept the speedometer at 80 kms all the way.

The hotel charges 150 pesos a day and includes electric and wifi.  We are on the owner´s terrace enjoying a full-blown signal.   Las Palmas is much nicer with the  pool and the secret garden next to the rv parking lot but I just can´t see paying  so much.  Last I heard it was above 400 pesos for the night.  Good restaurant and some good times had there though.



Kind of sad to see the three other hotels; Oasis, Pedregal and the Capri so run down.  They must have been something in their hayday.   I stayed at Capri during the summer and it was very shady with lots of trees but no wifi or electric.  I had to plug the coffee maker into an outlet next to one of the rooms.  All nice people though.   Too bad I´m not a millionaire, I would take one of these and turn it into a grand hotel and rv park.  They all have enormous pieces of land.  

We're here for the night and in the morning we will head to Peter's El Faro Rv Park.  I gave him a shout out the other day and he assured me there would be room.   We will spend a few days touring the state capitol of San Luis Potosi.   I have a return route that might take us off the beaten path if we have time.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Heading To San Luis Potosi

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Landing in Tampico, Tamaulipas


Friday was the last day of work.  It was a tough one.  I went to Tampico Thursday morning for an event at 3 p.m.   That all worked out great.  It was the delay to return to Mexico City to spend the night.  I got to my hotel room at 1:45 a.m.  I set the alarm for 4:15 a.m. and went to sleep.  Got up, coffeed, showered, dressed and headed back to the airport.   I had asked for a room at the airport but the secretary doesn't travel and I guess doesn't understand what an extra hour and a half of sleep means when you're on the road.  Oh well, I survived.  I went to school after arriving in Monterrey but only for a couple of hours.

So now, I got a bug up my butt about not going to SLP with the rv.  It all seems to be such a hassle anymore.   I think we need a new rv, like a Class B van.  On our Christmas trip we were stopped three times and harassed.   It's not worth it anymore.  They see our Mexican plates and think we will pay them out.  The other issue is the swimming pool.  We had the tile work grouted, searched for a leak, fixed it, added the new blue light kit and filled it up.  Still leaking somewhere.  I'm ready to fill it in but that's not a solution.   We need to be here with the workers.  I hate wasting water. 

I found a hotel in SLP that allows pets.   New, clean and very economical.  It's only 350 pesos a night and a 50 peso deposit on the cat.  It's in the centro and within walking distance of everything.  Cheap if we take the VW which gets 34 mpg.   I'm still undecided.  I spent the weekend get the rv ready just in case. 

Funny story.  I sent Robin and Steve a FaceBook message asking where they stayed in SLP last year at about this time.  Steve said, "you're asking me, you live in Mexico",  I think we both got a chuckle out of it.   We will stay at the El Faro should we make the rv the travel choice.   



I wanted to share this picture with you.  I took this on the way to the airport last Thursday.  As you get into Monterrey from our house the rush hour traffic is horrific and sometimes, if there is an accident, there is no other exit and you have to sit it out.   They have come up with what we call "contra flujo" or against the flow.   The highway has a grass parkway which divides the roadway.   They opened up a crossover and each morning and evening (reversing the traffic)  they start at 6 a.m. setting up cones on the opposite side of the road going into town to create an express lane.   Save a ton of time.   I'm sure they do this in most major cities in the U.S. and Canada but it is new for us.  It works so well they are doing it on more major avenues.