As we were approaching Tepic we got a call over the two-way radio from Sol telling us that they had just blown out one of the tires on their 5th wheel trailer. We weren’t too sure of how far out of Tepic we were, but Sol wanted to ride out as far as possible without trying to change the tire himself. Well we were a little surprised because just as we passed over the hill in front of us, Tepic sat there with a big smile and waving a flag for us. I know I wouldn’t have relished changing that tire and I’m sure Sol felt the same way. It just so happened that the 2nd building we approached was a commercial tire company and they quickly jumped in to get the job done.
Fortunately Sol had 2 spares, so they were in good shape and didn’t have to buy another tire. While the tire was being changed we all took time for lunch and when finished, the coach was put in gear and we continued on to Mazatlan…our next stop for a week.
_We haven’t taken any more side trips since Guadalajara but have found ourselves saying “Happy and Safe Travels” to our campground buddies. It’s that time of year again and the “North” is calling… Ken and Maureen left with George and Lis and headed off to Canada. George is still recuperating from the bicycle accident and hired a friend to drive them home. Sol and Carol will leave when we do but that won’t be for another 2 weeks. It’s not that I don’t want to head north, it’s just that IT’S STILL TOO DAMN COLD UP THERE !!! We’re still playing a great game of water volleyball every morning
_and getting together for the Friday night cocktail party at the palapa. We also made a couple of trips down to Sayulita for coffee and/or lunch AND out to Chacala for some sea, surf, sand, cerveza, and food. When we do move north this will all be hard to leave. Our last Friday night at La Penita campground was celebrated with a great dinner in Guayabitos
_with Sol and Carol, Grant and Carol (the couple that have put their time and money into making La Penita what it is today), and “Dodd” and “Vie” (Carol’s parents that have been going to La Penita for over 25 years and prior to Grant and Carol’s running it). Come Monday morning we’ll be hearing Carol’s air horn playing “On The Road Again” as we pass by their coach with ours and pass through the gates. It won’t be next year but we will be back the year after next…
_Since getting back we’ve decided that we will re-paint our motor home. We’ve been thinking about this for some time and decided earlier to have the decals removed and painted out in the same colors. Now we’ve decided to go ahead and not only have the decals re-done but to fix the dents and scratches as well. That means that we’ll have all the coach done with the exceptions of the gel-coated white area. This is a subject that I’ve been considering for some time, but the quotes I’d been given just didn’t fit our budget. It now it just makes sense to go ahead.
_We’ve had all the body and paint work done now and it ran a total of $14,000 pesos ($1,200 US).
_The best price I got in the states was $16,000. I really think we got a great deal and now the coach looks as good as new.
Well Ajijic was our next stop…it wasn’t even on our agenda from the first but seeing as how we were passing by and having heard so much about it we had to check it out. We weren’t impressed !!! The streets were soooo narrow and soooo difficult to get around and through that I just couldn’t understand WHY all the accolades. After finding a good restaurant and enjoying lunch on the banks of Lake Chapala, we continued onto Tequila before continuing downhill to La Penita. I really don’t like driving in the dark while in Mexico, but we did… I just don’t want to make it a habit.
We’ve allowed a lot of time to pass now so I’ll give a shortened version of the next month plus…
Ken and Maureen joined Louise and me for another trip. This time we drove up to Guadalajara to do a little shopping AND sightseeing. The last time that Louise and I were in Guadalajara, was in 1990 and we wanted to re-live some of that time. For Ken and Maureen, it was their first time. Unfortunately with my computer crashing I lost all my pictures of this trip, but the memories will last us forever. Our B&B was the same one that we stayed in while visiting Tlaquepaque (but instead of having Ken and Maureen in the picture we have Sol and Carol from our first trip here). On our first morning, we took a cab directly to the Market to start our shopping experience. In less you’ve been there, you can’t believe the size of the place. You can find AND purchase just about anything and enjoy a great meal at the same time. This wasn’t like walking into a department store but if you can’t find it, it just isn’t made yet… As long as we were in Guadalajara we also wanted to see some of the sights of this big city, so instead of walking our legs off, we bought tickets for the “Jump on – Jump off” bus. This is a beautiful city, but to really get a good feel for it, it will take at least a couple more visits.
_Our two night stay only wet our appetite so we will be back. Leaving Tlaquepaque, we decided to take a different route back to La Penita and that took us close enough to Talpa to warrant a stop. Talpa is the town that we visited when Del was here and is known because of the “Virgin of Talpa”, and their Church.
_As we walked up to the church we noticed two things that were not “normal”. One of them was that the pews were moved to the sides of the chapel and the other was the appearance of a brass mariachi band. I had a chance to talk with a member of the band and found out that the priest of the Talpa church just died and they were there to play at the Alter and in the attached museum. I must say that a brass mariachi band playing in a church was AMAZING !!! The sound and the feeling, un-believable… Well there are always things like this that just seem to appear as we travel so that’s one of the reasons that we do what we do…TRAVEL.
_This week has gone by pretty fast, but on the other hand, my butt is getting seat worry from all the miles we’ve driven… After having lunch and walking through some of the stores of Quiroga, we continued our drive to Mazamitla which was another 3 hours away. We were losing light by the time we arrived and we were hoping to find a hotel available for us. It really looked dark when we saw all the people in town. I thought by the crowds walking and driving the streets, that all the beds in town were taken. Not only that, but we couldn’t even find a “legal place” to park so that we could checkout the possibilities for a night stay. I found a small spot right on the corner but unfortunately it also blocked the crosswalk…well I won’t be but a minute… FORTUNATELY, we got 3 rooms AND it comes with FREE PARKING in an ENCLOSED parking lot !!! We never did find out what brought all the people into town but come morning most were gone. After we unloaded our suitcases and delivered them to our rooms we met out on the balcony for our “happy hour”. Dinner was held overlooking the plaza and one of the “prettiest” churches…did I just call a church “the prettiest”???
_Well it is an unusual and good design and one that fits perfectly in this mountain town amongst all the Pine trees. I haven’t traveled all of Mexico, but Mazamitla is one town that uses Pine beautifully in a lot of its buildings and I haven’t seen that elsewhere. I think we all enjoyed our evening walk-around but I did notice that some of us went back to the hotel early to get a little “shut-eye”… All rested up, we enjoyed breakfast and started to re-pack the cars for our continuing trip. Our next stop…
_As we leave Patzcuaro and head north around the east side of Lago de Patzcuaro (Lake Patzcuaro), Louise comes up with a suggestion that we visit the archeological site of Iuatzio and the village of the same name. The large and partially restored site was just a short drive off the main road, so it wasn’t a big deal to make this one of our stops for the day. The ruins feature two ceremonial pyramid type structures that overlook a large open space with a 12 foot wall on three sides.
_During the excavation of the site, two carved stone coyotes were found. One is located at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, and the other graces the bell tower of Ihuatzio’s church. I found it interesting to learn that by the late 19th century, the peoples of P’urhepecha (the Indians of this region and time) were invaded by the Aztecs. The real interesting part of that is that the Aztecs were repelled. Now when the Aztecs were being invaded by the Spanish, the call went out to the P’urhepecha for aid, but as you could guess, the call for help was denied… Leaving the archeological site behind, we headed into the village of Iuatzio and negotiated the very narrow streets.
_We were looking for the church with one of the carved stone coyotes that was moved to the bell tower from the ruins.
_Now this is one village in Mexico that doesn’t see many visitors. I say this because for the first time I didn’t see one taco stand or any other type of restaurant… What we did see as we were leaving was two or three little shops that were displaying their straw handicrafts, from furniture to Christmas decorations. We stopped in one of the shops just to see, touch, and perhaps buy something…well one of us did. Ken and Maureen found two beautiful armed chairs made from water hyacinth.
_Fortunately they fit into the back seat of their car, it would have been too bad to have to leave them behind. With the chairs stuffed in, we continued on. Our next stop was Tzintzuntzan. We loved this town and we loved the bargains we found there. I don’t think anyone left without a bag or bundle in their hands. With lunch coming up real quick, we headed further north to our next stop. Quiroga isn’t a village or a town, it’s a city and a city with lots of bargains and great “carnitas”…
_I headed out into Patzcuaro for my coffee first thing in the morning and found Mo and Ken wondering around checking out all the sites close to the hotel. Seeing as how we had a little bit of time before everyone else was out and going, I guided them to one of my favorite spots in town but before we got there we stopped in to see the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Solud. This church was completed on the hill overlooking Patzcuaro in the early part of the 19th century. It’s a very nice church but not one that is the most beautiful, architecturally speaking that is… the site that I was going for is the Templo de Sagrario.
_I really find this a photographers dream. The interior is in need of a lot of TLC and as the exterior continues to be exposed to the elements without any work being done it will soon crumble. Well we had to look, shoot (our photos), and hurry back to meet the others for our bus ride to Santa Clara del Cabre (the copper city). The last time Louise and I went to Santa Clara, we walked up to the bus station and caught a bus, but this time we lucked out and found a “combi” (similar to a VW van) that could take us all the way. Fortunately we were some of the first on the combi so we all had a seat for the 40 minute drive in some pretty warm weather.
_Most of the stores are centrally located around the plaza and ALL display and sell the coffee cups,
_plates, pots, and anything else you can think of made of copper or not...
_There are a number of places that will allow you to go into the back of the stores and watch the copper being formed into the finished product. At one of the places we were even coached into taking hammer in hand and pound out a design into a pot.
_We all had a great time in Santa Clara del Cabre but with time running short, we found another combi to take us back to the docks at Patzcuaro. There we caught a small boat to Isla Janitzio, the island in the center of Lago de Patzcuaro (Lake Patzcuaro).
_Boy were we ever caught off guard… Last year when we were here, the whole island was covered with tourists, both those from the states, Canada, and Mexico, but this year we found we were the only “Gringo” tourist there and I’m sure that there was but a half dozen Mexican tourists there as well. This is the island that features a small pan fried fish. They are about the size of a small sardine and cooked well done…I must say it’s a crispy little morsel… Well, were here and we’re going to enjoy some before we climb to the top of the island. The climb to the top is “a climb” and the reward is two fold…the view
_and the huge statue of Jose Maria Morelos.
_On the way down I lucked out and found a very delightful item that I wanted VERY much.
_The only problem was that they (2 of them) were pretty large and I had to carry them all the way back to the hotel ( I got the word, “You bought them, YOU carry them”).