Neither of us are incredibly excited to get back to Juarez but it is almost comical how easy it seems to be driving in this city after the major crisis when we got here. I guess that´s what seven weeks of practice will do for you! And maybe because Mex was driving instead of me but don´t tell him I typed that! We saw the newspaper announce that crime is on the rise with 2000 car thefts and 200 murders in the months of February and March. Oh well… We feel safe in this hotel and don´t plan to leave for anything the rest of the day. We got a suite by the pool which is hopefully warmer than it was last time or we won´t be enjoying it too much. It is around 90 here so maybe a quick dip in a cold pool wouldn´t be so bad! We are optimistic and only got a room for one night. PRAY AND HOPE FOR US!
Chihuahua state totally reminds me of a western movie complete with scrubby dessert, dust devils, sandstorms and even tumbleweed blowing across the road. It´s amazing how much greener things have gotten since our trip down. The peach and pecan trees that line the highway in ranches are starting to get their leaves and the brush in the dessert is actually green. Farmers irrigate their crops although I can´t imagine there is enough water here to do that!
One thing I wish I had after three weeks without using the car AC is tinted windows. Whenever I saw a car with them in Florida I always joked about them being for pimps or drug dealers trying not to get recgnized but OH NO! EVERYONE should have them in Mexico! It doesn´t seem to matter what direction we are driving, there is sun beating in the window heating us up and having the windows down is no help. I did manage to get burned through the window a few times. I´ve burned and peeled so many times I´ll be a whole new person under my freckles by the time I get back.
We are both so excited to see everyone! We should be able to count the days on two hands until we are sleeping in our own beds (even if Mex gets his way and we detour for a day through Vegas).
Oh yeah… one piece of excitement for the trip today… As we were leaving Chihuahua city we got pulled over by a cop who told Mex the speed limit was 70 KPH NOT 70 MPH which he was going close too. He took Mex´s license which made both our hearts stop and told him he had to go back in the city to pay a fine before he could get it back. We stayed calm and Mex asked him if he could write down the directions for us because we had no idea where to go. At that time he must have decided it wasn´t worth it and he gave Mex´s license back and told us to slow down. The cops can take your license away from you (which we had been warned about by the nice RVing guy on our copper canyon train ride) but it still freaked us out.
Well I guess it wouldn´t be a proper road trip without the car trouble and cop action right? =) No harm done. Our car has a few small door dings now which makes me sad since it was six years old and in perfect condition but at least we will ALL leave in one piece! TOMORROW!
Hope and pray.
All our best to you as well and thank you for your support and wonderful thoughts.
Min and Mex
We made it out of Juarez and through the Chihuahuan Dessert.
I must say it was very “desertish” with scrubby brush and dust devils galore. I was surprised by the mountains that rose constantly to the west of us. I guess I never realized there would be mountains this far north but I guess you need mountains to make canyons. Since we are on our way to tour one of the world’s largest canyons, I guess the mountains make sense!
Chihuahua Desert between Juarez and Chihuahua City
There is not wireless at our hotel room so I have to use the computer in the lobby. Traffic was not really bad and the roads were all in very good condition actually. I know Chihuahua is one of the richest states so that might change as we go farther south. There are signs saying “No tiras basura” (Don’t throw garbage) every few miles. They mostly seem to be effective. I say mostly because there was usually a small pile of trash at the base of the sign but nowhere else. There were also billboards every couple miles with “En tres años” (In three years) and pictures of happy Mexican families doing daily activities. Not sure what this means… Unbelievable happiness will come to Mexican families in 2011? Or maybe the billboards were put up in 2007 and it is a countdown to the 2010 bicentennial…
The tolls really killed us… about $22 US to go 5.5 hours… That does not sound too bad except probably only 1.5 hours were actually ON a nice quality toll road! We did put gas in. It was $0.80 a liter and there are 3.8 liters in a gallon… I am not sure what that works out to but it seemed expensive. About $30 US to put in a little over 1/2 tank or 7ish gallons.
Mex and I had a few communication breakdowns due to the stress of not knowing what we were doing but we have calmed down now. Driving around the city of Chihuahua was particularly stressful because the exit signs always seemed to be on the “wrong” side of the road so we never knew what lane to be in. Also, when we got to the outskirts of the city, every intersection was crowded with people selling food, newspapers, coming up and squirting fluid on the window and trying to wash it. It was very nerve-wracking since I read way too many online horror stories of people being attacked in their cars. Definitely shouldn’t have done as much “research” on driving in Mexico as I did.
This hotel in Cuauhtémoc – the Tarahumara Inn – is not as nice as our last one but seems pretty clean and has secure parking which is important. Costs about $70 a night. The city of Cuauhtémoc is mid-sized (about 90,000 people) so driving in it was a little better, although I did end up going the wrong way down a one way street. There are about 50,000 German-descended Mennonites in this area. They reportedly speak little Spanish and keep mostly to themselves, marrying within the community. I found an interesting article on drug use in the Mennonite community. I guess it is hard to live in one of Mexico’s most dangerous states without some surrounding influence. It is very strange to be walking down the street surrounded by Mexicans and then see these white men in overalls and white women in homemade dresses and bonnets. Very out of place.
It is about 3 pm and we spent some time walking around town a little. There are some interesting shops and this strange two-story market area that we went in to. I can’t really even describe it very well. Mex feels a little ill so we are going to relax and get ready for our Copper Canyon trip tomorrow. I can’t believe I didn’t take a single picture of the town. Still getting used to this tourist thing I guess.
UPDATE at 9 pm – We just finished dinner at the hotel restaurant. Finally some authentic Mexican food! We both had shrimp but with different sauces and it was great. Mex´s stomach has not gotten any better. He is having major cramps but nothing else and we cannot figure out why since we both have eaten exactly the same thing today. It may be the stress of my driving. If you notice that I am missing contractions or some punctuation it is because I am typing on a Mexican keyboard which has extra buttons that are amazingly impossible to figure out. We are both glad to not be driving for a few days and think going all the way over to Tequila may be an optimistic plan. Especially since we do not have the best of tempers in stressful situations. Thank goodness mom and dad drove us down to El Paso (dad really did all the driving) or we would probably both have ditched the car by now and gotten on a plane. I am starting to miss everybody. More now than when I was stuck in the hotel which seems odd. I am getting very excited to meet his sisters and dad and nieces and nephews and see his town. About nine or ten days left though until we get there. Have a good night everyone.