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Countryside and weather changing - Nearing Mexico City

Pretty agricultural country approaching Tula

We're in Tula today and visited the ruins of the Toltec capital here (from about 800-1100 A.D.)

We've come quite some distance from Zacatecas - down through a pretty stark countryside and over a big mountain into the Bajio, another major silver producing area and the birthplace of the Mexican War for Independence back in 1811. We worked our way through the cities - a day for riding, a day or two for visiting - Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro. Then we rode down toward the famous ruins of Tula and Teotihuacan near the Valley of Mexico. We're almost in the middle of Mexico now!

As you can see by the picture, we've been riding through some pretty agricultural areas and seeing some mountains - both quite a treat. And we had our first rain the other day - a decent thunderstorm. Tonight in Tula it really poured, with violent thunder and lightning. After 2 1/2 months never even thinking about rain, we're going to have to get re-oriented. And we're mighty happy to be in a hotel tonight! I think we would have been washed away.

Folkloric dancers in Zacatecas - Video

In Zacatecas we got to watch the most amazing folkloric dancers. We were late and were right up against the stage. Nancy turned our little tiny Sony camera into video mode and captured this action. We thought you'd like it. There are two different videos here. I love them both!

April 15 - Tax Time

Hi there all you folks working on your taxes at home! We know that it's tax weekend and wish you well. Some of you asked how we handle the tax event while we're on the road... Well we just do it electronically with Turbotax like we've done for years. We filed in February and got the refund in early March. Not to rub it in or anything.

But that brings to mind a story from the Oregon coast last fall. As you can imagine, not everybody we meet understands what we're up to or why - or can relate to it. We were talking to one fellow who was just flabbergasted at our trip and the informality and unplanned-ness of it. He said "so do you sleep under bridges?"... We said, "well, we have". He was horrified. But his next question was the most memorable indication of his disapproval: "But your taxes - how do you pay your taxes?". We explained that with little income you have little taxes. But we remain amazed that he was more taken with our disconnection from the tax system than with anything else about the trip.

We all make a choice in life. Stay within the lines or venture outside the box. He did not understand there are amazing things to experience outside the normal perimeters. We love to explore the life outside this box. And all you folks who are joining us, are also enjoying life outside this box. And for this we thank you for sharing life our trip.
We all have to pay taxes, we just do it online. Computers sure have changed our lives. Has the world become smaller or are we just more connected. What do you think?

Prices and Money

Typical vendor in the evening - some of our favorite food

I always find it interesting what people pay in other countries, so I'll give you a report on what we're doing financially right now in northern Mexico.

The current exchange rate is hovering right around 11 pesos for a dollar, so it's easy for us to figure out how much we're spending by just knocking a digit off the price or dividing by 10. We're not really working very hard at saving money, but it's pretty inexpensive nonetheless.

Approximate costs in US Dollars:

Hotel: $15-$25 (all have had hot water. Some very nice, others grungier)
Coke in restaurant: $.70-$1.00
Beer: $1.00-$1.50/bottle
Simple Dinner, per person: $4.00
Taco or burrito: $.35
5-hour bus ride: $19
Entrance to bullfight: $20
Gallon of purified water (in plastic bottle): $.90
5 gallons of purified water (need returnable bottle): $1.30-$2.00
Public Restroom: $.25 (includes toilet paper)
Museums: $1.00-$2.00
Doctor consultation at pharmacy: $1.50
1 Kilo (2.2 pounds) of corn tortillas: $.80  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Mexican Climate and Temperatures

Randy riding road to Ojuelos

Some of you have asked if it's getting really, really hot down here (yet). Well, the weather is surprisingly moderate so far, mostly because we're at a high elevation (7000-8000 feet, 2100-2500 meters above sea level). The morning of April 11 we woke up at our campsite to ice crystals on our tent - the temperature was 32 F (0 C). But when we left at 9:30 or so, we didn't have our coats on, and by mid-afternoon it was quite sunny and uncomfortably hot (not intolerable, but pretty stinking hot). Most days it hasn't been near that cold. We're worried about what will happen when we descent to the east or west coast, and about the lowlands of the Yucatan. But I guess we can adapt... or flee... if we get into something we just can't handle.

Migration and Mexicans

Bus to US poster

I think everybody knows that immigration by Mexicans is a big issue in the US. But you'd be amazed at the view from our end. The entire migration issue is having a profound impact on all of Mexico and the entire Mexican people. We have been to many, many towns whose entire working population is working in the US. We went to a big festival in the town of Jerez the other day - everyone assured us that 99% of the populatin of Jerez is working in the US. That's why the festival is such a big deal - many of the "paisanos", as US-workers are known, return for the fiesta. It's the one cultural connection with the old home town.

Everywhere we go, we see signs for the bus to the US. There are amazingly good prices. From Chihuahua you can get to Denver for US $69. From where we are today in northern Guanajuato, you can get to Dallas for US $40. At least that's what the sign claims.

It's not hard to figure out why you'd work in the US for $100/day instead of working here for (maybe) $10/day. But it is hard to figure out what the cultural results are after a few more decades of this.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Where we are: Early April 2007

Where we are: Early April 2007
Here's the map of our route into Mexico so far. Today we're in Zacatecas (leaving Monday going south). The red sections are the parts we biked, and the blue are other forms of transportation (the train into Copper Canyon, a truck to the bottom of the canyon at Batopilas, and the bus from Durango to Zacatecas).
There are new pictures on the photos page...

Zacatecas from above - and finding directions

Zacatecas from above - on the hill "La Bufa"

Here's a view of Zacatecas from above. If you click on it you'll get a bigger version and you can see the entire city center. It's an amazing place, with (too many) places to go and things to see. All beautiful, all the old, colonial city.

One of the issues any time we're trying to find out way around is that (1) we don't understand everything people say and (2) they don't necessarily give good directions. For example, if we ask for directions to some site, they may say "straight, straight, straight, just straight". But it turns out that you come to a "T". What do you do then? (Ask again, over and over, of course).

And sometimes there are no signs on a business. In one little town we were looking for an internet "cafe". It turned out there was one, but we had to find our way to the "yellow house". There was no sign at all on said "yellow house", but we did find it and it did in fact have several computers with very slow internet access. When everybody in a town knows where everything is, who needs a sign?  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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