Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Here are entries for the last couple of days. I'll add pictures to them probably tomorrow - for now I need to catch up on e-mail and boards.

February 12, 2007. Oh, I have a feeling that by the time I can post this, somebody will have sent out the Mounties. Yesterday, I went up to Bodie’s place to write my journal entry, but as it happened, my sister was online and we ended up talking on Skype (and talking and talking, as we are wont to do, being sisters). Suddenly I saw Ian drive by. He was on his way to pick R and me up. Gotta go, I said. I packed up and went to town on what turned out to be a more ambitious outing than I had anticipated. We went down to where all the action is – the Malecon – and up to the ninth floor of the Best Western hotel, where there is a rooftop terrace with a great view of the harbour. I had left my camera in the RV, but now I could actually look at things without peering through a viewfinder, so all was well. Ian has a couple of pictures that he is going to e-mail me. I said I would pass them off as my own, but that wouldn’t be nice – so when the photos of Mazatlan’s harbour appear here, be advised that they are not mine. The men rode the 1944 vintage elevator back to the street. I tried to beat them by taking the terra cotta tiled stairs around and down, around and down, around and down, but they got to the bottom seconds ahead of me. I wanted to use the stairs because I loved their smell. They have a fragrance that reminds me of the California missions. There, I always thought I was smelling traces of incense wafting in from some chapel, but there was no incense in the Best Western. Maybe it’s the tiles themselves – or, as Ian suggested, something used to clean them (how pedestrian. I vote for some substance intrinsic to terra cotta, or to the grout - Eau de Nostalgia).

On the Malecon, I found a vendor who was happy to sell me a shell like the one my grandmother had – this time without any writing on it. I now understand that it is a cowrie shell. We saw the place where the men dive in among the rocks, but the tide was low, so nobody was diving. As we were leaving, a couple of young men said they would dive for us, but we said no, don’t, the tide is too low. It’s too dangerous. No problem! We’re professionals! Right. I can see it now. I would pay some 18-year old hot shot to dive off the tower, he would miss his mark and go splat on the rocks, and I would feel guilty for the rest of my life. Not to mention, he would be dead. No, thank you.

Ian pointed out several statues along the road, and commented that Mazatlan seems to run to statues of people with their privates hanging out. He’s right. Not a fig leaf in sight.

We checked out the cathedral, but there was a service in progress, so we could only see the outside. It wasn’t all that impressive (I fear Winchester and Salisbury have spoiled us). We strolled through the market, but they seemed to sell mostly t-shirts and rosaries there, so we came out without spending any money. Then we bought ice cream bars, ate them, and strolled stickily back to the truck for the ride home. On the way, we stopped at Gigante for some groceries, and Ian came over for a farewell dinner.

He was shocked to hear that we had been in Mazatlan for two weeks and hadn’t ventured down to the Malecon before. First of all, we explained, we would have no idea where we were going – or where to catch a bus to go back home, and Mazatlan is a very confusing place. Also, I hate cities, I said. Then why the hell did you come to Mazatlan?

Oh. Good question, Ian. We came looking for warm weather. If they would take the city out and just leave the beach, the bamboo, the iguanas, and the palm trees. I would like it a lot better. But R and I did enjoy the trip to the Malecon, especially the view from the hotel.

We had an early night, and we left Mazatlan at 8:30 this morning.

Sonora was still in the throes of springtime when we came through in January, and we wanted a bit of summer, so we went south, but now we’re back in Sonora. It’s a little cooler here than it was in Mazatlan, but then we’ve gone inland and up some, to the high desert town of Alamos, and it’s late in the day. We arrived just at sunset. We aimed for an RV park called El Coracol, which is 38 kms from the main highway. When we got there, the gate was closed. There was a sign on it reading “Abierto” (open), and we could see one rig, way back on the property, but we decided the place looked pretty closed to us. So we pressed on to km 51, where Real de los Alamos was listed, only a couple of kilometers from town, an easy walk or cycle. According to our guidebook, there are some interesting things to see in Alamos. So. Here we are, tucked up in our site, ready to go out and watch the stars. We’re far enough from big cities here to have a good evening of stargazing. We have booked in for two nights, after which we’ll head for San Carlos.

When we crossed the border from Sinaloa to Sonora, I had a feeling like the one I get when we’re in England and we cross into Hampshire, or when we go into California, or across the Canadian border and into B.C. It felt like a homecoming. More and more, I’m glad we decided not to go all the way to the Yucatan.

In the morning, when the park office opens, I’ll ask whether there’s an internet café in town, and if so I’ll pack the laptop in there and post this – but I don’t hold out much hope.

February 13, 2007: We did eventually find the internet access in town, but by then it was really too late to do anything about it. This morning started out a little strangely. I got up, went to open the door, and noticed that there was a small car parked right in front of the RV. Just then, somebody said “How are you this morning?” “Well, at the moment I’m still asleep.” He wanted to sell us a tour of Alamos for $30 per person, and the tour was to start at 9:00 a.m. It was 8:20 at the time. He wouldn’t let me say no until he had gone through his whole spiel. Then I said no, and he went away. R and I had our coffee, enjoyed the desert air, did some reading, had breakfast, cycled into town. It was hardly any distance at all, but somehow, once we were there, we managed to lose our bearings and take the most interesting self-guided (heh) tour up and down winding cobbled streets, past lots of housefront shops, getting more and more confused. I bought some flour tortillas at one of those stores that has no door, just a teller’s window. Five minutes later, too late, I happened upon the tortilleria that sells hand-made flour tortillas. We were looking for the central market, the church, the museum. We found the incredibly crowded cemetery instead.

I took a couple of pictures there.

Eventually we found our way back to the main road and went wearily home. When we got there, our neighbours asked about our excursion, and we told them what had happened. Then we settled in for the afternoon. At 2 p.m. we decided to take a one-hour nap. At 2:35 I heard a voice outside the rig. A man said was anybody around, and he hoped he wasn’t disturbing us. Annoyed, I dragged myself back from a sound sleep and went to deal with whoever was trying to sell us something this time. It was the neighbour we had talked to. He had decided he would drive us into town and give us a guided tour. So, once we finished waking up, we hopped into Dick’s car and rode the four blocks or so to downtown, and he showed us which way to go to get to the market. First, though, he drove us up a cobbled road to the top of the mountain (El Mirador), from which we could see forever, or close to it.

We shared the view with a bus load of seniors from Arizona who were on a guided tour of their own. When we came down again, we stopped in at the church and town square so I could take a couple of photos, then went to the market to buy milk and fruit. It was at the town square beside the church that I discovered an internet café.

Unfortunately, my laptop was back at the rig. Dick drove us home. I considered putting the laptop in the pannier and cycling back to the town square,

but I didn’t want to risk that, given my penchant for falling off bicycles. My head may bounce well, but I doubt that the laptop would.

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