FRIDAY, July 29
We got into the El Paraiso Trailer Park near Cuernavaca last Tuesday. It’s owned by a Mexican 82-year-old former electrical engineer. He and his wife built the park when she told him he had to stop working so hard, or she would be a widow. They’ve been running it for 30 years. He told me that caravans of RVs used to come every year, but that he hasn’t seen one for the last 4 years. No doubt due to the news coverage in the US of the cartel violence.
We didn’t spend any time in Cuernavaca – Mexican tourists come for the weather – but went on the next morning to Taxco, a former silver mining town. There are 2 things to do in Taxco: visit the 18th century church and buy silver. We did both.
The trouble started on the way out of town. I noticed a grinding sound and vibration from the front of the truck when making slow speed turns while going downhill. The sound and vibration got much worse if I applied the brakes when making the turn. We decided to return to the RV park, and take the truck to the Cuernavaca Ford dealer the next day.
The RV park’s owner suggested a local mechanic. The mechanic sent one of his employees. He couldn’t have been more than 17 years old and skinny as a rail. Anyway, after jacking up the front end and taking a test drive, during which the sound could not be reproduced, the problem remained undiagnosed.
Then the fun really started. On getting back to the RV park after the non-productive test drive, Chris blithely informed me that the large window in the kitchen area of the camper came off – all the way off. Try as we might we couldn’t re-install the window. So we resorted to the time tested repair of last resort – we duct taped it. We both had the feeling that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of the trip. And we nixed the idea of returning to the Sacramento area for another repair.
As we retired for the evening I recalled Scarlet O’Hara’s last line in _Gone With the Wind_, “After all, tomorrow is another day!” Fade to black.
We had a bit of problem getting out of the RV campground. The previous night there was a major thunderstorm with a lot of rain. The ground was soaked. As we were leaving the campground we got stuck in the mud. Not seriously stuck, the tires just kept spinning on the slippery clay soil. We ruined the grass in front of the owners’ house.
We decided to skip the Ford dealer in Cuernavaca and drive to Oaxaca. If the noise returned before reaching Puebla we’d stop there. But the noise didn’t return so we kept on driving. After 7 hours we stopped at a Pemex station about 110 km north of Oaxaca and asked if we could park there for the night. No problema.
At four in the morning we were awakened by loud and incessant banging next to the camper. Chris got up to take a look. Some people were transferring something from one van to another – and it wasn’t fine china. Chris said she didn’t want to look long enough to see what was being transferred for fear she might become a witness – a witness who might have to be…eliminated.
We got back on the road at 8 sharp. At about 60 km north of Oaxaca we encountered a couple of roadblocks set up by the protesting teachers. Their technique is to pile several feet of dirt across the highway, but they were letting north and southbound traffic through in a single lane. We also saw a couple of burned out vehicles on the side of the highway.
The second protest was by taxi drivers – all driving yellow taxis – on the south side of Oaxaca – where our RV campground is located. Hundreds of taxis were parked near the local government offices, effectively closing 2 of the 4 lanes. With the stop and go driving through the protest we noticed the brakes squealing. This time we’re taking the truck to the Ford dealer in Oaxaca.