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The following travel articles are listed on this page, and in this order:

Blight Spirit        by Jane Casa
How to Handle a Bad Bus Day         By Sareda Milosz
Ancient Maya city, artifacts are research treasure-trove, from  USA Today
As others see us - article in The Oregonian      by Margie Boulé
How we found San Miguel de Allende, by accident.    by Marianne Koerner
Hot-Air Ballooning - Day 1 - by Michael Wein
Travel Alert-Theft by military personnel at military checkpoints - by Lou Vogt

Blight Spirit by Jane Casa

 Well, I think I should have taken that turn back there; but here I am hunkered down under the truck of a nice Mexican truck driver with my Mexican atlas, asking him the best route to the U.S. border.

     "If you want Monterrey, you'll have to go back,"  he told me hoping I'd go away so he could get back to what he was doing with that wrench. It was hot under there and the interruption by a gringa loca was not going to improve his circumstances.
     "Better just go on to Montclova and cross at Piedras Negras," he told me and even in that prone position with splotches of oil on his face he bade me, "Que le vaya bien."
     I had no notion of what the roads might be at this juncture somewhere north of Saltillo and Monterrey.  To my surprise, I found them well-maintained, nearly empty of traffic and snaking through some of the most dramatic scenery I've seen in Mexico.  The mountains rose in front of me appearing impenetrable, then yielding just enough to the highway I was traveling to engulf me into their majesty.
     The June rains had kindly decked the sides of the road with new sunflowers and green green fields of grasses and cacti.  But something was missing here in this idyllic setting!!  There was not a plastic bag, or a coke bottle or an empty oil can to be found!!
     "Wait until I get to Piedras Negras,"  I thought to myself, "I'm sure I'll find polluters there."  No, wide clean streets leading me to Pointe Internacional.  Crossing the border couldn't have been easier if I had done it online...a cursory inspection, a friendly "adios" and I was in Texas.  At least I think it was Texas, the signs read "San Antonio" but what had happened to the Texas I had visited as a college student?  It had become one loooooong strip mall from San Antonio to Dallas and up to the Oklahoma border.
     I thought culture shock only happened when you left home, but I found my beloved America "in my face" with every consumer opportunity known to man or woman, offering itself unabashedly, blatently trying to woo me to eat, sleep, buy, invest, pre-qualify,  insure for very little down and very little per month almost anything my little heart desires.
     Maybe I've been in Mexico too long.  I have no right to miss the sound of church bells.  I have no right to expect America to replicate the peace I feel in Mexico.  I have no right to want my country to change.  North of the border is light years away from Mexico.  Toilets flush right away, road signs warn you if a lane is going to be uneven and even when you can safely pass.  You can drive-in to just about everything:  registering at a motel, your bank or a gazillian calorie meal.
     America, you are a teen-ager, reckless and wild, trying to grip life by the short hairs while your neighbor to the South is aged and sometimes infirm.  It all leaves me wondering, "What is blight, anyway?"

May 15, 2004   How to Handle a Bad Bus Day     By Sareda Milosz

 Tourists and political commentators tend to view Mexico as a Third World country. This is kind of silly these days, as Mexico ranks right up there with the big boys when it comes to just about everything, and when it comes to national public transportation, Mexico may very well rank first in the so-called First World.

 First, the transportation network reaches everywhere, from the large cosmopolitan centers to tiny villages with a few hundred inhabitants, and it’s been this way for a long time, thriving since long before I arrived some 25 years ago. Back then, I never had to wait more than half an hour for a bus in the right direction from anywhere, and the service has only improved.

 More important, within the past decade, Mexican bus lines have upgraded their vehicles on most national routes twice. The new Volvos and other motor coaches are clean and climate controlled, much more comfortable (though less interesting) than their fumy, bumpy predecessors. They are also much safer and better-maintained, so we read and hear far fewer accounts of tragic accidents resulting in double-digit casualties. Still, there are thousands of buses on Mexican highways at all times, and the roads, other crazy drivers and weather may present hazards for bus travelers, so it’s wise to remember a rule or two.

Most of the new first class busses have seatbelts along with more luxurious amenities as leg supports, fully reclining seats, pillows and blankets. Rule one is always to fasten your seatbelt. I felt stupid for not having taken this simple precaution prior to my first and only bus accident (knock on wood) in about a thousand rides.

Here’s what happened, although I didn’t find out the full story for about a month afterwards:

I left San Miguel early one morning on the bus to Mexico City , where I planned to transfer to Cuernavaca and then take local buses to a ten-day meditation workshop. The 6 a.m. first class bus out of San Miguel had seatbelts, and I don’t know why I ignored them (I am the daughter of an insurance broker, after all!!). As we neared San Juan del Rio , the sun was barely coming up and it was still dark out. Most of us were asleep. The movie was about teenagers and a bear. We were traveling at the speed limit in the fast line, and there was little traffic. I noticed police lights on the other side of the divided toll road.

Suddenly there was a god-awful, nightmarish noise and one of the passengers screamed and the bus driver lost control of the vehicle and we crossed the slow lane and hit the side of the road and started to roll and that’s when I felt so stupid. We were lucky, though. There happened to be enough embankment to stop the bus on its side. All 32 of us were hurt and bleeding, some badly. When we came out of shock enough to look for the bus driver, he had already vacated via his window. Two teenage boys followed him out and grabbed him as he was about to leap into the cab of a passing truck. (Very Third World , I admit.)

I yelled at the front passengers to turn off the ignition, and the boys and the bus driver who were outside broke the front window and swept the glass aside with their jackets. That’s how we de-bussed. Across the road, in the rosy-fingered dawn, we saw that the police lights surrounded another bus accident. Whoops. Anyway, long story short, as we were able to recuperate our luggage, we boarded other buses to Mexico City , all of which stopped to pick us up as they passed. So, with a couple of exceptions, we all got where were going that day, just a little later than we had anticipated.

Ten days later, mellow from much meditation, I returned home and went to work on collecting First World insurance with my bus ticket from that day as evidence (actually, there was a very good computerized passenger list). I went to PROFECO, the national consumer protection organization that has a local office at Gigante. Only one other passenger on the bus had bothered, and she was the only other apparent foreigner on the bus. In the meantime, lawyers from the bus company had also contacted me, and wanted to meet me for a drink in San Miguel, but I said no thank you.

The lawyer at PROFECO, whose job it is to bring these suits, got on it immediately and we decided the best place to meet with bus company lawyers was right there at her office. In the days before the settlement appointment, I went to a doctor and a chiropractor (my knees were bloodied and my arm “swole” up) and got notes and bills from them. I made copies of everything including my ticket. I also put a public service announcement on the radio informing other passengers of the lawyers’ impending visit.

Still, I wasn’t surprised that the other foreigner and I were the only ones who showed up, as my fellow travelers had trouble believing my story that it would be worth their while to take a couple of hours off work. The bus company’s lawyer was a nice guy with many, many, many envelopes full of cash. Too bad for the rest of the folks. He explained the cause of our accident (a huge piece of concrete in the road as a result of the other bus accident had broken our axle) and let us ask questions. I saw that my fellow foreigner in litigation was playing it silly with the insurance guy, and I decided to be nicer. When I saw him offer her either US$1,000 or free treatment until her injuries were resolved at Hospital de Los Angeles in Querétaro, I figured her insistence on chauffeurs and rental cars was not brilliant and I decided to go for the one K. I had doctors’ receipts for about $200 pesos and two letters saying I required future treatment.

The insurance lawyer didn’t want to give me so much, but I said, “Hey, I’ll shake hands with a smile and sign off, and you’ll never have to see me again. Give me the thousand bucks and I’ll go, now, not like that other lady.” So, he did. And the PROFECO lawyer provided a sign-off form and I went home with a fat pocket and now I always buckle up.

Mexico is not a Third World country, as Third World countries have no mechanisms for compensating injured passengers for damages. And just try finding a toilet or a deep reclining seat on a Greyhound. Hell, just try to find a Greyhound that gets you where you want to go on time. !Viva México! And I’ll keep taking the bus.

5/4/04 Ancient Maya city, artifacts are research treasure-trove, by D. Vergano, USA Today

The discovery of royal tombs, jade offerings and the mask of a forgotten god is providing valuable clues about the life and times of the ancient Maya.  A spate of archaeological findings has been reported this month about the Maya, the ancient rulers of a land that included parts of Guatemala , Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula . After more than 2,000 years of rule, the mysterious collapse of their civilization began after A.D. 800. Left behind were massive pyramids, ceremonial centers and inscriptions, which scholars are steadily uncovering from the rain forest.

"We're talking about one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world," says epigrapher Simon Martin of the University of Pennsylvania Museum .

The Maya had a complex society centered on the  Dynasties ruled city-states that traded in exotic items such as jade and collected water in urban reservoirs for use in the dry season. Astronomical readings of the seasons, important for planting crops, were vital to the Maya.  While scientists still don't know exactly what happened to the Maya, the latest findings shed light on their rise and fall:

• Cival was a large and sophisticated city of perhaps 10,000 people that thrived in the preclassic era of Maya at about 150 B.C. The classic era, which began in A.D. 250, is defined by the evidence of dynasties and writing. But Cival shows all the hallmarks of the later classic Maya, including three ceremonial plazas and five pyramids organized along astronomical lines, which is a surprising finding, says project archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  Also found were jade offerings and two 15-by-9-foot masks representing a corn deity, which also was worshiped by rulers in the classic period.

At Takalik Abaj in southwestern Guatemala , a preclassic royal tomb has emerged from the remains of an astronomical observatory. Miguel Orrego Corzo and Christa Schhieber de Lavarreda of the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sport believe the tomb held the last ruler of the site, dated to before A.D. 200.     Carved stones and jade ornaments also support evidence of a sophisticated  culture among the early Maya.   (Both the Cival and Takalik Abaj explorations are funded by the National Geographic (news - web sites) Society. A National Geographic special, Dawn of the Maya, premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET /PT on PBS.)


• At San Bartolo, further information about a stunning mural from A.D. 100 is expected later this year. Discovered by William Saturno of Harvard's Peabody Museum , the mural depicts the corn god. It is well preserved and executed with a skill that delights scientists.    It was known that many classic Maya features, including writing, began in earlier times, but the smoothness of the transition revealed in the new finds is surprising scholars, Martin says.


• At Waka, or El Perú, a royal tomb of a queen and a warlord from A.D. 630 shows that female rulers played a role, says project archaeologist David Freidel of Southern Methodist University . Buried with a warrior's war helmet, bones of the woman were later removed as objects of veneration. She may be the "Kaloomte," or supreme ruler, mentioned in inscriptions at the site.     It is an awesome experience to come face to face with one of these rulers," Freidel says. Also found in her tomb were stingray spines, used by kings in genital piercing rituals for blood offerings to the gods.     The unexpected size of Waka, with 672 buildings spread over nearly half a square mile of jungle, shows the unnamed queen ruled a powerful city involved in struggles in the sixth and seventh centuries between the larger cities of Tikal and Calakmul.

• Cancuén, an even later classic palace dated to after A.D. 765, has yielded information about upheavals before the Maya collapse. An altar stone appears to record a treaty between warring kings in the twilight of the classic Maya.

Project head Arthur Demarest of Vanderbilt suggests that the city's ruler, Taj Chan Ahk, skillfully maneuvered for power even as the Maya headed for collapse.   The rescue of a similar stone last year publicized the widespread problem of looting at archaeological sites. 

Discoveries from the latest digs have underscored efforts at local involvement and eco-tourism in projects, notes archaeologist Lisa Lucero of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces . Guatemalan archaeologists are co-directors and participants at most major sites, for example, and artifacts become government property.

After all, millions of Maya descendants live in Central America today, speaking the Mayan language and observing Maya rituals.

Because of that, "We need projects that are well rounded. That's the only way it will work," Lucero says.

4/29/04 As others see us - article in The Oregonian      by Margie Boulé

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico .  For expatriate Americans, life in San Miguel feels like home, free from angst. 

If you lived here, you'd be home forever. At least, that's what the locals say. Not the locals with dark eyes and black hair and childhood memories of the place. No, it's the more recent residents of SMA (as the Americans call it) who've fallen in love with their new hometown.

Americans are everywhere in this 450-year-old colonial silver mining town, as ubiquitous as the glittering Jesus statuettes in the dollar-fifty-a-ride taxicabs and the gentle vines that reach over high walls to brush your hair as you walk to the Jardin at the city's center.

Single American women run small businesses that grow fast bed and breakfast inns, dress shops, sophisticated restaurants.

There are American poets and composers and writers and many, many painters.

Retired couples walk along the narrow cobblestone streets, past elegant Spanish-style buildings, holding hands. They're headed to cocktails with new friends who've recently arrived from Oklahoma and Massachusetts and Washington state.

And from Oregon . So many Oregonians have moved to San Miguel for all or part of each year that it's hard to spend a week in the city and not run into Portland friends on the steep lanes or in the tiny courtyard restaurants.

Why have so many Americans left home for Mexico ? And why do they all claim they'll never move back?

You don't even have to ask. This small city of 70,000 (or 55,000, or 75,000 -- even the tourist bureau is shaky on the numbers) is crowded with 5,000 (or 3,000, or 14,000) expatriate Americans who are eager to tell you that moving to Mexico is the smartest thing they ever did, and they think you should move there as soon as possible, too.

A surprising number came for a vacation and bought a home or property before the first week was out. "It's a cliche, but we did it, too," a retired physician from Portland says last week. "On our third day here, we shook hands with a builder," his wife adds.

American ex-pats have restored crumbling city-center colonial homes, or they've built new ones on lots that were strewn with rocks and bottles a few years ago. They've observed local architectural traditions, constructing high walls along the streets, walls that hide lush courtyards surrounded by rooms heated by gas fireplaces. Everywhere there are trees, fountains, good paintings, Mexican pottery and antiques. Buildings are washed with paints colored by mineral powders in mango or banana or a soft sage green.

Everywhere you hear music. And it's not just the church bells that go into a frenzy of ringing each morning at about the time the roosters sing. It's the music festivals that are almost continuous. Or the religious celebrations. Or the running of the bulls. Or the Easter preparations that had young children laughing as they cracked eggshells over the heads of adults who walked through the Jardin last week, showering adult heads with confetti or powder.

Everyone seems to give a different reason for having made the escape from the States. Some were drawn by the crystalline skies and year-round outdoor living, others by the artistic community. Many talk about the economics of moving to a place where a $200,000 home comes with a property tax bill of only $60 a year, and that includes garbage service. "We paid more than $60 on garbage alone in Portland ," one ex-pat says.

Some were tired of the concrete jungle, life in the fast lane. There is no fast lane in a place where the streets are cobblestone. Some admit they left to dodge U.S. taxes. Others didn't like the changes they saw in U.S. politics or culture.

Some were simply drawn to the friendliness of the people and the beauty and cleanliness of this historic city.

The U.S. State Department estimates 3.2 million Americans are living abroad, 550,000 of them in Mexico ; there's been a big increase in the past decade. Experts predict many more will move in the next 20 years.

And why not? Travel is faster and less expensive than ever before. The breaking down of trade barriers and the requests of recent immigrants have filled the shelves of local stores with sports drinks and Atkins diet products and fine French wines. Americans here watch U.S. cable TV, have high-speed Internet connections and get their mail delivered daily from Laredo, Texas .

They've left what used to be the Land of Opportunity for the World of Opportunity .

People still come to the United States from all over the world, especially from Mexico , looking for a place to improve the lives of their families. It's just that now a flow of people seeking the same rewards is going in the other direction, as well.

And the Americans playing backgammon on the square in San Miguel de Allende last week, wearing colorful Mexican shirts and sipping Gatorade, who haven't driven a car in weeks and haven't seen a franchise American fast food place in years, feel right at home.

The Oregonian, http//

4/14/04     How we found San Miguel de Allende, by accident    by Marianne Koerner

       We were actually going to Ajijiic for the winter. We had brought an old VW Vanagon and hit the road in Long Island , accompanied by our somewhat large mutt, Archie, and our old and faithful and blind alley cat, Gypsy. We took our time, making the trip a sightseeing and freeloading adventure (looked up many old acquaintances en route.) We were just short of  three weeks on the road when we approached San Miguel from the north. There, on the road from Dolores, stopping the van on the side of the road, we gazed at the miraculous view of San Miguel. It was, as they say, breathtaking, the light just right, hitting the Parrochia in such a way so as to make it actually glow. As we made our way to town, we were able to park, thanks to a kind policia, in a spot alongside the Jardin. (This was in 1993, mind you.).

                    We knew one person who lived in San Miguel: Susan Porter Smith. She had come to speak about Mexico and population concerns and, of course, C.A.S.A. at the Quogue Wifelife Center on Long Island . After the poorly attended lecture (I believe there were near-hurricane conditions that night), we chatted about San Miguel and Susan told us tht we should come have a look/see on our way to Ajijiic. And so, we phoned Susan. She said that it was a most propitious time to call since there was a party that night to honor Long Island as both the above -mentioned wildlife center and the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Santuary had made a substantial donation to C.A.S.A., and since we were from Long Island, we should come.

                    After a  serious attempt to clean up (three weeks on the road had taken their toll), we taxied to the Mirador,as per instructions, and were ferried up to a home in Atascadero . Between the art work, scuptures, the Beautiful People, and the overwhelmingly beautiful view of San Miguel and the mountains beyond, I felt as if I had crossed into the Twilight Zone; or at least an episode on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". Thoughts of Ajijic quickly faded into the sunset. 

                    The next day we serendiptously found a house rental; a lovely home, gardens, a perfect housekeeper who was also a Cordon Blue cook ( I remember it costing $400 per month; those were the days.) 

                    For the next nine years. we rented a house every winter. Last May, we bought.

(We're slow movers). San Miguel never fails to surprise, stimulate and embrace us in its warm friendships. Clearly, it was not our original destination, but we were destined to be here.

3/25/04        Hot-Air Ballooning - Day 1 - by Michael Wein

It's very dark up here on my mountain in Mexico at 630am as I leave to join others for my first day of hot-air ballooning. We meet at the Jardin, that center of all good and evil for Mexicans and Gringos alike. But, at 630am there are few good or evil participants evident. I wait, oh compulsive me, for the next of our group of six to arrive. They do arrive, all here before the appointed hour (645am en punto. The truck, containing the six of us, the balloon (and all of its components - a much more complicated thing than I imagined - of course my imagination goes back to the fantasy provided by the song "Up, up, in the air, my beautiful balloon", a popular song of the sixties), the basket, the wind blowers, the 4 propane tanks, and the heating elements, left the Jardin at 645am en punto, as advertised.

I thought that we would go out to the San Miguel airport, but no, the leaders of the group, experienced in the ways of Senor Wind, knew ahead of time that that was not the place to take off from today. No, today, we had to head out towards Queretaro so that the prevailing winds would blow us back towards the city. Even that preliminary thought was not enough of a test. About half-way there, still in the dark, we pulled off of the highway and stopped at a little dirt road where my fearless leaders sent up a trial balloon. Years of involvement in (well, actually, noisy observation of) USA politics led me to a faulty conclusion of just what a trial balloon was. In this case, they inflated a small (party-sized) balloon and sent it aloft to observe the wind patterns that the balloon encountered. Satisfied that today was (in the immortal words of Goldilocks) "not too windy, not too little wind, but Just Right", we continued on further down this highway looking for a field from which to launch our "beautiful balloon".

A word or two about my hosts.   Bill Munro (interests in computers, tennis, women) is a licensed pilot of both hot-air and fixed wing aircraft. Keith Keller is a well-known artist and teacher (used his own girl friend - an accomplished artist in her own right - as a model) (pictures are mostly of prostitutes and tarts - apparently this does not impact poorly on his relationship with her), and has lived in SMA for many years. Robert DeGast is a world renowned writer and photographer, who also has his ballooning license. Peter Woods is going for his ballooning license and will pilot today's ride for credit towards his license. Peter is a silversmith and local artist specializing in jewelry. Evelyn Chisholm is a southern-accented woman who was on her second day of ballooning. And then came Michael, non-artist, non-balloonist, capitalist tool, waiting to join this ecletic group.

We found a suitable site and stopped the truck. The cloud cover still hid the sun, but it was apparently just attempting to break through. We were way out of town and we were surrounded by mountains (purple mountain's majesty, a hardly original thought, came to mind). But, it was lovely, even inspiring, to observe the quiet, the serene, the sheer loveliness of the surrounding scenery. However, this was not to be an easy watch for me. I was expected to dirty my soft, lily-white, hands. And I did as ordered. First, we unloaded the truck (luckily it had hydraulic lifts to aid us). We unloaded the balloon, the basket, and all of the equipment. The work then first started. The envelope (hell, I thought it was a balloon) was laid out, and the blowers were positioned to blow air into the envelope. Two people were stationed at the entrance to the envelope, holding it open to aid the life-giving wind fill it up, the envelope gulping each time sustenance came its way. Another person held the top of the envelope (hell, it apparently IS a balloon) using a long, taut, cord so that the outside wind would not whip the balloon out of our control. The other people (apparently only 4 were absolutely necessary) did little somethings to aid the inflating of the balloon and readying it for launch. This balloon, already big in my estimation at this point, became even more obviously bigger when one of the crew entered the inside of the balloon checking for who-knows-what and I observed how tiny he looked inside.

The balloon was filled with air and then the air was heated, and my science teachers turned out to be right, the balloon rose a bit. Hot air DOES rise. At this time the crew (at least the experienced ones) tested the lines, the gauges, the propane tanks, the tethers to the basket, and went through an impressive countdown to launch. I must admit that I thought that we were going to "just park the truck and take off".  Sometimes my own ignorance amazes even me.

Now the balloon was ready. Offered a chance to go for a ride, I said "no", not out of fear, although later I heard that there were reasons to fear flying, but rather as a first-timer, I thought that I should observe. And so I did.

Peter piloted, with Keith and Robert as passengers. Evelyn, Bob, Keith's dog "Fanny" and I manned the "chase car" (the now nearly empty truck). And off they went, And off we went. The gas was fired periodically to give more lift to the balloon, but when that was NOT happening, the landscape became very quiet. The balloon rose quietly and softly and slowly and unwaveringly. Finally, we, somewhat more noisily, lumbered after it in the chase car.

Now you have to realize that the balloon is a captive of the air currents that it flies in. Yes, the pilot can maneuver up and down and thereby catch different wind currents, but, until in them, the pilot does not know which way the wind blows (with apologies to Bob Dylan). So, even less knowledgeable us, on the ground, knew even less which way the balloon was headed. There was radio contact, but I'm sure that you have all listened to those two-way radios pictured in the movies. They are just like that in real life. Straining for information, the chase car, chased. Now, it should be remembered that this balloon is huge, and it is bright yellow, and it is the only thing IN the sky, absent birds, and an occasional leaf. So, except for moving the car near some tall trees, the balloon was always easy to trace. And of course, there was always that static-y radio.

The problem, such as it was, was that the balloon went wherever the wind took it through the unfettered skies, but the car had to follow on roads. Roads, in the mountains of Mexico , are a mixed bag. Some roads are highways, equivalent to and sometimes better than in the USA , and some roads are fields, trampled down by years of generations of burros, sometimes worse than in the USA . And, even more of a problem, was that there, many times, were NO roads, because large farms were transversed by horse and tractor and no one ever imagined a need for mobility by "chase cars". So, we chased the balloon and continued on its path until the time when it WAS important, the very end. Then, because the pilot put it down earlier than the chase car recommended, we lost sight of the balloon. The radio kept referring to a small town with smoke rising, and said town, even much less the smoke, was not visible to us in the truck. When a small boy on horseback, tending a flock of sheep, told us that the "only town" was in that direction "but you can't get there from here", we decided that Fellini has scripted this particular trip.

After going around and around, we found the balloon, down in a field of corn and asparagus (early in the growing season - so, easy to spy), and proceeded to "as close as we could get". The flying crew, waiting for us, had already started the process of putting the balloon back in its bag awaiting out pickup. When we finally arrived, we found a coterie of small boys, sitting on their bicycles, watching our crew with great amusement. It is a sign of how much work is entailed in putting the balloon back into its bag to say, even after the long wait for us to show up, there was still much work to do to complete the "bagging, boxing, and boarding" of the balloon to the truck. Then, even after that was completed, my generous and polite and politically correct teachers mandated that we attempt to repair the cornstalks and asparagus patches where we trampled on the growing vegetables. And so we did that, too.

Now, all finished, and all back in the truck, the constructive criticism of the individuals was to commence. The pilot explained why he set the craft down in the field that we found it in, and why he did it before we got close enough to spy it while it was still in the air. It seems as if this balloon ride is not a piece of cake, more like tres leches cake, if anything. There were times when the balloon tangled with winds that did not do what was expected of them, and there was the tail-end of the trip when the balloon, having set itself down rather unceremoniously, decided to tip over and continue to move along the ground with everything, basket, contents, ropes, following the balloon to wherever the balloon decided to set out for by itself.

But, except for breakfast (a club ritual), the trip was over. Complete, no injuries, no accidents, nothing of consequence happened to balloon, basket, equipment, truck, or even, oh yes, any of us. And that is that until we go up again next Tuesday.

3/14/04 TRAVEL ALERT-Theft by military personnel at military checkpoints - by Lou Vogt

Care must be taken not to be robbed when stopped at military checkpoints. Single travelers are at particular risk because when at the back of the vehicle things can be stolen from the front. I suggest that if traveling alone to tell them that you insist on only ONE inspector ("uno persona solo para inspecion" will get across what you want) , lock the doors and open only one area at a time as it is inspected, and then closely observe everything the inspector does and relock the area when you move on to another. This way it is less likely they can take anything. If there are two or more in your vehicle have one person for each inspector. You can even say you don't want to be robbed and that is the reason you are careful...I have. They might act as though they can't understand what you are saying but you will be suprised how rapidly the inspection is completed

Objectives of this page::

1- travel in Mexico , by car, bus, plane, or by merely walking, is always an exciting and challenging event.  For those who have done anything or discovered anything that they consider useful to others, this section is for their telling of their tale.   For those who are considering anything similar, this is for them as well.

2 -this section will contain all "travel ideas for travel within Mexico " that meet the criteria described in Instructions .   All tips will be published in the date order of receipt, with the latest ideas on top (the oldest nearer the bottom).





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