Thursday, February 21, 2008


We arrived in Leon at about 2:00 and decided we wanted to stay for the night see a bit of the town. There are no RV Parks in Leon so we found a Soriana grocery store and parked against the wall on the far side of the lot. Leon is an industrial city specializing in leather goods and gets very few tourists. The result of this is that no one speaks English and our Spanish is not improving rapidly enough. It took the entire six person Security department to give us permission to stay the night. They said it was a very unusual request. They had never been asked before.

I then noticed a policeman in a pickup parked behind us so I went out to tell him we had permission to park there. When I got to his door I discovered there were actually two of them in the truck and they were Federales and not city cops. They had flack jackets on and seemed startled that I walked up to them. They were very polite; one spoke perfect English and told me that I was the least of their problems. After they showed me where I was on my city map I walked back and watched as another 25 or so Federales joined them, all in unmarked cars. They got out and met, all carrying side arms and M-16’s or Uzi’s. These guys (and one woman) meant business. They were obviously not there to tell us we were violating a parking ordinance. Later, as we were coming back from dinner, we passed an intersection where there was a great commotion going on. There were dozens of regular police cars with lights flashing, the unmarked cars we saw earlier and a TV reporter telling a story in front of lights. The cab driver tried to tell us what was happening but we could not understand him. It was probably a drug raid.

We wanted to take a cab down to the Centro to watch people and have dinner. I found a reference to “Restaurant Cadillac” in the Lonely Planet Guide and asked two cab drivers if they could take us there. Neither knew where it was. I went back to the motorhome and wrote out all the information I could about it, including the address and the name of the square it was on. The next cab said he could find it. In Mexico no taxis have meters so you are always supposed to negotiate the price before you get in. He thought for a second and told us $45 Pesos ($4.10 CAN). We told him fine and jumped in. Well, it was a lot further away than I thought and in Canada it would have been at least $20 one way. He was a good daredevil driver and he and his stick shift Nissan Tsuru got us there alive so I gave him $60 Pesos. He told me I misunderstood him and paid too much and tried to give some back but we convinced him to keep it. It is not much for us but it made this a lucky day for him. He probably expected us to negotiate him down from his $45 Peso opening bid so it was like a 100% tip. Cab drivers rent their cabs from the owners for a set amount per night. One driver in Mazatlan told us he paid $250 Pesos a night. They have to pay this for all seven nights so they cannot work only on the busy nights. They also have to buy gas for the car so it takes a lot of twenty or thirty Peso trips to break even, let alone start to make a living. There are many cabs on the road as well so the competition is pretty fierce.

The Restaurant Cadillac sells only pizza and hamburgers so we walked around the Plaza and found an old hotel with outside seating and a guy singing Mexican Jazz. We had a nice dinner (T-bone steak for Norma and Breaded Pescado with lime for me) and then a coffee ($30 CAN including tips for the waiter and the singer). While eating we watched the Plaza come alive with singles, couples and families strolling or sitting on the dozens of benches. Mexicans are a very social people. They do not have to know each other to stop and chat. We made another cabbies night as we paid the same for a cab ride back to the Soriana where we fired up the generator to make coffee to go with our Key Lime pie. Here in the Soriana parking lot in Leon, Mexico, Life Is Good.

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