Wednesday, February 27, 2008
On September 28, 1810, twelve days after Hidalgo’s ‘Grito de Delores”, Miguel Hidalgo and 20,000 rebels attacked the Spanish Garrison in the nearby town of Guanajuato with pitchforks and machetes. The Spanish barricaded themselves in a massive stone seed and grain storehouse built around 1800. It looked as if the outnumbered but better armed Spaniards might be able to hold out. Then a young miner named Juan Jose de los Reyes Martinez (aka “El Pipila”), acting under orders from Hidalgo, tied a slab of stone to his back and, thus protected from Spanish bullets, carried a torch up to the wooden gates of the storehouse and set them ablaze. When the gates burned and fell, the rebels rushed the storehouse, killing most of the Garrison inside. It was the rebel’s first major victory in Mexico’s War of Independence. “El Pipila” is honored as a Hero of the Independence Movement. Some recounts of the event report him killed in the ensuing battle but others report him surviving and living to a ripe old age. I prefer the later.
We are staying in San Miguel de Allende for a few more days. Getting the damaged roof of the motorhome looked at too a long time and prevented us from seeing all the sights around here. This is an important area to me and I do not want to cut my visit short. The damage turned out to be covered by our Mexican Vehicle Insurance with $500 USD deductible. They want us to have it repaired in Mexico up near El Paso, Texas where we were going to exit anyway. I will make a temporary repair with Duct Tape to prevent any more damage. There is no chance of rain down here so that is not a problem.
There is no longer any Internet service from the RV Park - router crash and burn - so I have to use internet Cafe's. As a result my postings will not be a frequent.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The fourth shot is of a group of schoolchildren being shown the actual bell that awakened the town at 5:00 AM on September 16, 1810 for Hidalgo's proclamation of Independence.
My visit to this area has really moved me. It is now easy to understand the Mexican people's visable pride in their Country and Heritage.
The first two drawings depict Hidalgo freeing the prisoners and issuing his "Grito".
The third is Hidalgo's severed head as it was hung from the city walls by his Spanish executioners.
The final is a Bust of Miguel Hidalgo.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
San Miguel de Allende is a favorite place for expatriate Canadians and Americans and has developed into an artists community. It is the home of Toller Cranston, the Canadian Figure Skater, and the actor, Antonio Banderos, among others. This influence is seen in restaurant, hotel and real estate prices which are more in the Los Angeles range than that of rural Mexico. It is easy to see the attraction for artists. The light here is unlike anywhere else I have been, perhaps a result of the 6,200 foot altitude. The streets are lit with the reflected light from other brightly coloured buildings, giving everything a sureal glow. The doors, windows and belconies of San Miguel are spectacular. It would be very easy to spend a month or two here and fill a hard drive with photos.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Today we passed through the beautiful little town of Guanajuato ("Wana-wa toe"). The town is built on hillsides and in the bottom of a small valley. Many years ago a nearby river kept overflowing and flooding the town. They tried to solve this by digging tunnels under the town to handle these periodic floods. This did not prove to be a permanent fix so in the end, the river itself was diverted away from the town. The now empty tunnels were converted for use by cars to take traffic off the streets. Access tunnels were dug to connect the tunnels with the streets above.
As we approached Guanajuato, my intention was to bypass the town, go on to San Miguel de Allende, check into the RV Park there and then return with the Honda to visit Guanajuato and Delores Hidalgo. Such was not to be! I got slightly confused reading signs and made a disastrous wrong turn with the motorhome INTO the tunnels! Once I turned I was committed. The road is narrow, single-file and one-way and there was a lot of traffic behind me. I did not immediately panic because I read that buses actually use these tunnels. Well, they must be narrow, short buses! There was a sign over the entrance warning of a 3.5 metre height restriction and I was happy that I was only 3.3 metres high! Five inches to spare! Well, there were a couple of small factors this figure did not take into consideration!
The tunnels are at the most twenty feet wide but if one could stay in the middle there would be little problem. However, they have decided to allow parking along one side of most of the tunnels, forcing traffic over against the left wall where the sloping walls of the tunnel now come into play! I turned on my hazard lights and headlights and slowly proceeded. The car dolly is about ten or twelve inches wider than the motorhome so so I had two worries. One was having the right dolly wheel get caught on a parked car and the other was striking the sloping-in left wall of the tunnel with the motorhome roof. I sweated my way through several blocks of tunnel until I found an underground bus stop where I could pull over and think (until a bus came along). A cab passed and slowed down but I did not think fast enough to stop and hire him to lead me out of the maze of tunnels. I was going to wait for another cab when a young man walked up to us. I asked him if he was a "Guide" as most residents seem to be and he answered that "si" he was. I asked him if he could get us out of the tunnels and onto the road to Delores Hidalgo and he said "si", he could. Norma got in the back, he climbed into the passenger seat and off we went with him directing me.
We made several turns when we came to a particularly narrow section of tunnel. As I glanced in the right hand mirror to check the location of the dolly tire, WHAM, I hit the drivers side roof on the wall of the tunnel! It was hard enough to shake the rig pretty good and I felt it making contact along the full 30 foot length of the motorhome. Well, no point in worrying about it now, so I proceeded on until we were out of the maze of tunnels and on a road clearly marked for Delores Hidalgo. I found a place to pull over and asked my guide how much he wanted for his services. He told me in Spanish that he wanted me to pay whatever I thought his services were worth. He had been with us for less than a half hour so I gave him $50 Pesos and asked him if that was enough. His eyes lit up and he assured me it was more than fair. It was only about $5 CAN to me but to him it was a day's pay for a Mexican labourer and obviously much more than he expected. We shook hands and both went away happy.
I pulled over as soon as I could to inspect the roof damage. It was not as bad as I originally feared. There is some very slight fiberglass damage to the leading edge of the roof and some minor damage down the full length of the roof edge. The waterproof Eternabond tape that I applied five years ago to solve a pesky roof leak problem is badly torn and pulled off in many places and the metal trim piece that grips the rubber membrane of the roof and holds it to the sidewall is bent and distorted in a few places. I have not seen the top of the roof yet but I do not expect any problems there. I think I can repair it myself with a rubber mallet to pound the metal trim back into shape and a roll of wider Eternabond tape to cover everything up.
Eternabond is magical stuff! It is extremely sticky, UV proof, waterproof, resistant to extreme temperatures, has a 15 year life expectancy and is very easy to apply. It is available in the USA and Canada but most likely not in Mexico. I am thinking of trying to use Duct Tape as a temporary (two month) repair to get me home. I have put the question to my panel of experts on Escapees.com, an Internet RV Forum that I use extensively. The opinions are gathering as we speak...
We arrived in
There is no easy way to get from Villa Corona to
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The city of Dolores Hidalgo is where the Revolution against Spanish rule was born at 5:00 AM on September 16, 1810 when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla woke his flock with Church bells and issued his “Grito de Independencia”, or “Cry for Independence”and a call for the abolution of slavery in Mexico. Miguel Hidalgo was no orthodox cleric. He questioned many Catholic beliefs, read banned books and had a mistress. He has been called “a genuine rebel idealist”. He was joined by his friend and fellow revolutionary Ignacio Allende from nearby San Miguel, an aboriginal leader and a fervent believer in the need for Mexican independence. Together they organized the aboriginal people and captured the nearby silver mining city of Guanajato (Wa-na-wato)from its Spanish overlords. Hidalgo was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his efforts and, after being captured and executed by the Spanish on July 30, 1811, had his head displayed along with that of Allende and several others for ten years on a wall in the city. Instead of having its desired effect of intimidating the Mexican people into docile obedience, the lurid display spurred the people on to fighting for and eventually winning independence from Spain. After Independence was won, the heads were incorporated inside the Monument of Independence. Migual Hidalgo is a true National Hero and has been honored by more statues and paintings than any other citizen. I am looking forward to exploring this area.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
They come to the hot springs here in large family groups on their one day off, pay $80 Pesos ($7.50 CAN) for adults and $40 Pesos ($3.75 CAN) for children to get in. They arrive when the pools open and stay until they close, getting full value for their money. They make their meals in the huge, shaded picnic area equipped with tables and barbeques. Mexican are far more family orientated than we are. There are plenty of teenagers here but they are all with their families, taking their turns supervising their younger brothers and sisters.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I am up and around again today and we are thinking about heading a half hour up the road to the Wal Mart Superstore outside Guadalajara. Villa Corona has no large grocery stores, only several very small “corner store” type groceries. There is, however a fantastic bakery within walking distance of the RV Park. I just love Mexican bakeries! This one is very typical of all the bakeries we have found (see photo). It is small, old and equipped with a wood burning oven that takes up one wall, bricks stained dark from the heat and smoke of generations of bakers plying their trade. The walls are brick or stone which holds the heat in very well. The smells when you walk in are beyond description! The work is done on a large table in the middle of the room. There is no “counter” but you walk right into the work area where you pick up an aluminum tray and a pair of tongs and walk around picking up your selections. The clerk then uses the same tongs to place your items in a bag, adding up the total. We bought a selection of buns, rolls and cake and when I paid the few Pesos it cost I told the clerk to keep the small amount of change as a tip. As we were walking out the door, the baker came around his table and handed me a huge, steaming hot cinnamon bun that had just came out of the oven as his “thank you” for our business and maybe for tipping his workers. In this county, you always get as good as you give.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I found “Che” Mofles Shop on the highway in Villa Corona and drove in without an appointment. He had me start the car as he crawled underneath and looked. He told me it would be “Uno momento” while they finished the car that was already in the shop. About twenty minutes later he drove the Honda over the pit and the shop owner ("Che"?) and his helper went underneath and conversed in Spanish. The owner then walked next door and came back with a Mexican who spoke English. We all climbed down into the pit and inspected the damage. I was told the muffler, tailpipe and the entire exhaust pipe up to the catalytic converter had to be replaced. He did not have the correct preformed pipe but had one that he “could make work”. However, he was careful to point out that even though he would only be using part of the pipe, he would have to charge me for all of it as cutting off part would make it worthless to him. I quickly agreed and they started. Two of them worked on the car for about two hours, bending, modifying and welding as they went. I was finally presented with a bill of $600 Pesos or $55 CAN. Once again I was looking at the ingenuity of Mexican workers. They had no pipe bender in the shop. Everything was done with a torch and a tree stump. It was dark in the pit but they worked together so well that no conversation was needed.
I drove back to the RV Park and noticed a “banging” under the car as I drove down the cobblestone street. I crawled under the back end and shook the tailpipe, initiating the noise. I drove back to the shop to find the owner had left but the helper was still there. I showed him the “Pequito problemo” and he had me drive over the pit and worked for another half hour, added a bracket and fixed the problem. I offered to pay for the additional parts and work but he refused. I gave him a $50 Peso tip and left with everything working fine. Just another Adventure in Paradise and an even greater admiration for the ingenuity and integrity of Mexican workers.