Monday, April 21, 2008

Copper Canyon - Bermejillo, Dgo. to Tonachí, Chih.

We continued on from Bermejillo, Durango on Hwy 49. We got an early start and arrived in Jimenez, Chihuahua an hour after crossing the state line.

In Jimenez, we stopped for a bite to eat and took some pictures of an abandoned factory.

As we headed out of Jimenez, we took Hwy45 which leads you to Hidalgo del Parral, Chih. On the way you will pass the tourist center. Here you can pick up maps, information on tours, directions, fill up the tank and have a bite to eat.

As you head out of the tourist center a sign will appear giving you two options, via Chihuahua, Chih or via Hidalgo del Parral and Goachochí. We took the latter and we had quite a beautiful and picturesque drive.

We passed through Hidalgo del Parral looking for Hwy24. After a ride around the town we found our way out, stopping at the Red Cross building asking for directions. The guy wanted to practice his English I wanted to hit the road. Finally, he showed us how to get on the highway and we said our goodbyes. From there we saw a turn to the North on the map but no highway number. We had a lookout for a sign leading to San Pablo Balleza. Our lookout steered us in the right direction.

From there it is easy-going as all signs point to the canyon and to Creel. We arrived at Goachochí in the late afternoon. We pulled into town and did not receive a warm welcome. Everyone stared at us like they had never seen a travel trailer. We asked around for a place to camp no replies. We asked if there was a park. Someone pointed us to a city park. Wow, you would have thought that this park would be in the center of such a small town. It was an artificial lake, surrounding by walkways, bridges, park benches, green grass and ducks everywhere. Still no luck. We decided that this was not the town for us. As a boondocker, you acquire a sixth sense. There was reason for us leaving and I'll tell you in a minute.

Back on the road it looked like we would have to find a place soon as the sun was setting and the mountain shadows were falling on us. We came to a pullout with a log cabin. There was a sign which read Tonachí with a campground symbol. We stopped and asked, good thing. 17Kms of dirt road. Our cardinal rule, no dirt roads. We asked the woman if we could stay and she said it was no problem for her. She fixed us a wonderful dinner and during dinner she would knock occasionally on the door of the trailer to bring us more tortillas and ask if we wanted anything else.

We spent a quiet but cold evening there watching a movie before hitting the hay. We could feel the elevation as the furnace came on several times during the night.

As for Guachochí, it wasn't until three weeks ago did we find out that our boondocker's sixth sense had paid off. On the front page of our local paper, El Norte, was an article about Goachochí and the invasion of the MaraSalvaTrucha gang. They are there helping the drug-traffickers. Go figure.

Check back later today. I want to share a little bit about how we pay our utility bills here in Mexico as we don't have a mail service like the USPS.

How I Pay My Mexican Utility Bills

Somebody asked how I pay my bills if the Mexican mail service is so slow. First off, the CFE (electric company), water and gas companies deliver their own bills to my house. My credit card statements, are sent by local courier. The mail delivers the phone bill. We don't pay bills here in Mexico via mail. Here are the options available today; internet via your bank system, in person at the utility, company or bank, and now at any convenience store or supermarket. Today I paid the electric bill. I went directly to the CFE company office as there are many scattered around town. I don't wait in line and I don't like paying a fee at the supermarket, convenience store and sometimes bank. The utilities here have automatic tellers. Do they exist in the U.S.? Geez, I don't know. But you walk up to the teller machine, scan your bar code off the bill and follow the script. It will tell you when to insert the bills and the amount is decreased until you have paid the amount. Any overage due to large bills or in-exact amounts is given back via coins, usually coin. We have big denomination coins in Mexico, 100, 20, 10, 5 and 1 along with centavos in 10, 20, 50. Why don't I pay my bills on line? I do pay most of my bills on line, but because of the accounting system, I have to have an original invoice showing payment so I can deduct it from my taxes. So things that are deductible, I need to pay directly at the company.

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