Thursday, March 29, 2018

What Happened? We're Back Home!

Tuesday morning we had a great start.  We headed out early, well-equipped and ready to roll.  We headed down the highway to Linares where we take the right turn to head over the mountain pass to San Roberto and on to Hwy 57 excited about meeting up with Ruth and Kevin at a national park.

Singing along with the radio we headed up the mountains thinking about stopping for tacos at the top before heading back down towards Coahuila.   Then it happened.   The engine simply shut down.  No warning, no alarms, and no flashing dashboard lights.   Dead silence as we were climbing at 4500 feet.  

There we were, on a curvy mountainous road, no shoulders and very few pull outs.   Not a sound could be heard.   I knew then it wasn't good but what else can you do.  Emergency procedures kick in.  We both jumped out, one ran out ahead and the other out towards the back.  With switchbacks, you can see traffic coming and going.   Flagging drivers around from both sides an old rickety pickup stopped dead in the middle of the road and a young guy asked what was wrong.  They pulled their 79 pickup around, strapped us up and pulled us to the first turnout.  They started to get things going saying that the SUV had overheated.  I told them we got a light saying it was an acceleration sensor failure.  They cooled us down, checked fuses, added water, etc. and off we went. 

Five kilometers later the SUV failed again.  This time it was at the steepest part of the route.  I attempted to roll back to get closer to the side of the road but now the front of the SUV was in the opposite lane.   Here come the highway crew that fills the potholes.  They had one guy jump out to direct traffic and they turned around to go get help.  In the meantime, around a sharp curve comes a semi and he comes right at me.  I'm like, what the heck!  And he stops three feet in front of the SUV.  He jumps out and asks if I speak Spanish.   He pulls out a strap and says he's going to pull me forward with him in reverse to get me off to the side.   He did just that.  Wouldn't accept any money and said he would also send for help.

What next?  Here come the Iturbide police in two patrol pickups (patrullas).  They get to work directing traffic.   A semi attempts to pass and almost takes off the side mirror but he backs up and then gets past us.  Here comes a commercial size truck that makes deliveries to OXXO stores.  The police stop him and tell him that he will strap us up and take us to the next town, Galeana, and drop us off.  They did as told.  Not only did they tow us, the police escorted us to Galeana.  They dropped us off and we were on our own.

We were parked at what is called El Entronque de Galeana, the intersection of Galeana and the highway.  We were four meters from the side of the road.   A taco stand was there along with a gas station and an OXXO and they offered us help.  People poured out of the woodwork to help us.  We found three mechanics and all said it was exactly as the book said, the acceleration sensor.  

Remember that this is Semana Santa and everything is closed from Thursday until Easter Sunday.  Obviously, there are no parts where we were.   We called Autozone in Linares and they confirmed they could get the part but we had to pay in advance in person.  We pulled out the big gun and asked to speak to a manager and told him that an HR manager was a good friend of ours.  Deal done, part ordered.  We would have to take a bus down the mountain and come back risking that that was truly the problem.  One mechanic never called us back.   He called at 9:30 p.m. and said he was on his way and asked if we needed water or blankets.  It gets cold in Galeana in March.  They showed up at 10:30 p.m. and as I told Croft, they reminded us of the Car Show guys from NPR radio (I think that's their name).  They cracked jokes the whole time, using their laptops and tablet to diagnose the problem.  Sure enough, the sensor was bad but he thought he could fool the computer to get us limping.   At midnight the SUV started.   They followed us down the mountain yesterday, limping along in first gear at 20 km per hour.

We headed for our spot at the resort we belong to in Montemorelos and spent the night.   This morning, we headed home, driving 60 km per hour.  Safe and sound.  Waiting until Monday to get the SUV diagnosed and operational again.  

Mexicans are awesome!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Finally - Ready To Roll

We're taking a bit of a different route once we reach Matehuala.  We had thought about going to SMA first but changed our minds.  We're meeting up with friends at the Sierra de Organos Natl Park on Thursday.  We may arrive on Wednesday depending on how far we get tomorrow.   The change in route takes us from Matehuala to a town called San Tiburcio which is over 90% indigenous.  San Tiburcio is at the intersection of Hwy 54 which goes to Zacatecas.  This will get us to the park by heading west through Mexico.

Hoping we can make this tomorrow (Tuesday)

Wednesday will hopefully take us to the park where we can set up in hopes we beat some of the crowds.  I have no idea what the park will be like.  It has no services or activities other than primitive camping and hiking.  I have a feeling there will be ATVs on the trails and possibly horses based on the rules I read about the park.  When we were there in August 2016 there was no one there but this being Spring break in Mexico it could be shoulder to shoulder.  We can always move on.

The trailer is packed, a set of two new tires, and hooked up.  I'm sure we could get some more out of the tires but they were purchased six years ago and were on the rv when we went to Canada.  They sit in the sun and were looking a bit pale.  I cleaned out the water tanks, both black and fresh.  The rv hasn't been used for months for several reasons mostly the fact that we still work.   

The palapa is in its final stages of completion.  The ceiling fan was hung today, the sheetrock is almost completed and the worker is applying the mud now.   It looks great.  I'm hoping to get a picture in a few minutes.  I'll paint it when we come back.  I will also post a pic of my new car.  Nothing fancy but as usual, I got a great deal.  It's not new but has less than 8000 miles on it and has been garaged for the last two years.  Still smells new and rides supreme.  You know my style, basic, so it's white with a dark grey interior.  

After we leave the park next Sunday, we head to San Miguel de Allende to visit friends and poke around the markets along with a good hike.  We want to eat out somewhere nice and just hang out, boondocking of course.  I would like to look at a couple of houses in Dolores Hidalgo and this might be a good time to do it.

I hope I can sleep tonight.  Imagine, an old fart getting all worked up about a camping trip!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Riviera Maya - Cirque du Soleil

Back to where I was a week ago.  We went for a bike ride on Saturday from the resort to Puerto Morelos.   Very nice little town but overcrowded and full of tourists.  There happen to be a 10 km out to sea swim and it had just finished when we arrived.  

The bike tour left the hotel on time, we all had to use fluorescent vests and helmets and the bikes were pretty good.   We were given instruction on how to ride on the road to town with the tour guide leading and a tail gunner with a bell on the bike handle to indicate that a vehicle was coming.   We had an hour on our own to visit the town.  There are some small and inexpensive hotels there but we wouldn't stay there.   Much better in an rv.

Came back later and had a light lunch (two glasses of wine by the pool) before taking a nap.  

This is really heaven but you need quite a bit of dough to live the life.   Got cleaned up and headed downstairs for our ride to the Cirque du Soleil.   We arrived way too early but as you can see by the pictures it was fun just hanging out.   They have a restaurant, bar and sitting areas along the manglar groves and every now and then a small hand-carved canoe would pass by with some type of fire twirling and conch music.  

The time came and we were ushered to our seats and watched a great show.  I have to say, this was not the best of C du S, we have seen five different shows over the years and I still say that Mystere was our all time favorite.  

I had selected the seating months in advance and did pretty well.  We were in the loge section and had comfortable living room style chairs, a table where they served us hors d'oeuvres and a bottle of very good champagne.   Our waiter took good care of us and made sure we were always supplied with a glass of bubbly.  There´s quite a bit of grape in a bottle for an hour and a half :)

The story of Joya is about a girl that has a magic book stolen from her and the quest to find it and bring it back.   Fun but I would say that kids had much more fun than the adults.  The theater is permanent and was built and is maintained by the hotel Vidanta.  Very nice and I wish we could have visited the hotel across the highway (underground connection) but that isn't allowed.  

Returned home that evening for a jacuzzi on the balcony with a cocktail and off to bed.   A great weekend had by all and Sunday was no exception.  A beach walk, a wonderful breakfast and off to the airport.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Riviera Maya - What An Experience

I saved up for a couple of months knowing it wasn't going to be cheap.  Prices are in dollars and as you know I earn pesos and nowhere near as much as a teacher in the U.S. or Canada.  It was worth every penny though.

Grand Residences offers many plans and I've never stayed at an all-inclusive.  I probably never will again either, hahaha.   It was an experience, a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about staying at a resort.  Some of the people were nice, and most were d"#$%.   The staff bends over backward to please everyone and you are treated like royalty.   The suite was probably one of the most luxurious we have stayed in although in my travels some have been better.  The look now is minimalist and it tends to get a bit monotonous.  

The flight was a bit less than two hours.  Upon arrival, our SUV limo took us to the resort.  From the Cancun airport, Puerto Morelos is about 35 minutes.   They offered us a drink during the ride and spent the time chatting with the driver.   We remember Cancun before it had become a city now with over 800,000 people.

At the hotel, we registered and our concierge assigned Jorge as our bellman and private assistant.  Need anything, call Jorge and he'll be there.   We're not that way and he checked on us a couple of times wondering why we weren't calling him.  I guess most guests pester him to death.  

The room speaks for itself.  They are in clusters of three, two junior and one master with an entrance and foyer for the three and those are separated from the other rooms, suites, and apartments.  The refrigerator is stocked with alcohol, water, sodas, and the counter covered in fresh and dried fruits, chocolates and nuts of all kinds.   

Some American tourists we met at the local gift shop.

Two jacuzzis, one in the bathroom and the other on the balcony.  We used the one on the balcony both nights.   It was so relaxing and quiet.   They offer the best of the best in terms of amenities; towels, pillow options (they ask at the front desk and have miniatures to help make the selection, with eight pillows per bed.   

There are three restaurants; Mexican, French and the beach bar and restaurant.  We liked the French for breakfast and the beach for afternoon lunch.  The make the meanest shrimp tacos and fried fish tortas.  Dinner Friday night was French cuisine and it was excellently prepared.  The menu is ample and you could have a ribeye, salmon steaks, lobster, or any combination.  I had a dish prepared with pureed potato with roasted garlic, butter and a wonderful sauce made with asparagus, morel mushrooms, walnuts, and spices (trying to stick to the vegetarian/vegan diet).  Truly a regal dish, delicious.  

There are two resorts next door, Now Jade and El Cid and they both have different styles.  I chose Grand Residences because it was on the end and we could walk some unused beach and we didn't have to look at a building next door.