Down Mexico Way
Mexico, North America
Dateline: June 2015
Part of our North American adventures, Mexico provides a cultural perspective and a vastly different history lesson to the rest of the North American continent. On our round-the-world peregrinations, when we had travelled the length of the Baja peninsula we had missed out on Mexico City, so this was our chance to take in this gigantic metropolis.
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Gay & Lesbian Pride march, Mexico City.
Mexico City
It was more akin to a gathering of the Village People and their fans than most demonstrations we’ve ever seen, and the participants and the onlookers were friendly and happy with more laughter than anything else. We sat on the sidewalk until it was all too much for Ron who wandered out into the melee to get a photograph with one of the colourful marchers.
 
Ron wasn't too sure whether it was a girl dressed as a girl, or a bloke dressed as a girl because this was a 'Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade', demanding the end to homophobia. There were lots of different sorts of people - Gays, Lesbians, Bi-sexuals, and Trans genders and everything in-between, even straight people, but it was often hard to tell them apart. Some women (well, they looked like women) seemed to be packing way too much in their knickers, while some blokes (?) weren't packing much at all. Horses were also common, which we’ve yet to see at the Sydney Mardi Gras, and these were being ridden by cowboys (?) or by colourful women (?) in sombreros and flouncy dresses. One horse was being ridden by a black-leather, silver studded slightly clad male with a beard and partly shaved head with skulls hanging from his belt. We weren't too sure about the gender he represented ... and we weren’t game to ask!  
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Colourful women on horseback at the Parade.
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Ron and one of the marchers at the Gay & Lesbian parade, Mexico City.
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Not your everyday horseman.
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Police were everywhere during the teachers march.
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Someone doesn't like 'Maccas'.
There were some very colourful and fancy costumes and there was hardly a cop to be seen - which was in stark contrast to the day before when we got tangled up with another march along the same street, that one being held by tens of thousands of teachers demanding better pay and conditions. They had been outnumbered and outgunned by the police and para-military units that lined the streets with anti-riot squads, armoured cars and dogs standing at the ready down side streets, while helicopters flew overhead. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't any trouble, but feeling a little intimidated we had headed back to our hotel for a quiet beer and a meal. 
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An organ player in the centre of the city.
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Our 3rd day in Mexico City - the 3rd demo; this time one on bikes!
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Plaza of the Revolution - Mexico City. All the tents were a sit-in protest by teaches against their pay and conditions.
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Kids enjoy the cool waters of Alameda Central park.
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Viv enjoying some great street food.
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These piggies went to market.
With help from our Eat Mexico Culinary Tour guide we found our way to the many street stalls and tried our hand, or more correctly our taste buds, at grasshoppers and worm droppings ... we kid you not! The fruit stalls after that we enjoyed (we wonder why?) before heading on to try a range of seafood-loaded tortillas, meat-packed taquitos, beef-layered flautas and spicy enchiladas. Finally our tour (highly recommend, by the way) ended at a bar crowded with noisy and boisterous university students, most of whom were setting out to get plastered that evening drinking 'pulque', which is made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It tastes like crap and is flavoured to make it drinkable, but at just $8 for an 8-litre bucket (that's how it comes), oblivion comes cheap. We contented ourselves with eight small glasses of the liquor, all coloured by different flavours that tried to hide the disgusting sour tang of the raw alcohol.
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Fresh fish were in demand.
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Fried grasshoppers anyone?
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So did these rabbits.
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The venison comes wrapped in fur.
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Fish were stacked high.
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Viv trying pulque.
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Colourful fruit and plenty of it.
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Some fruit we had never seen before, but tasted good.
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Colourful displays of spices and nuts.
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Our wonderful guide & Viv at one of the food stalls.
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We tried the street side food - where the locals eat.
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Coast in the northern gulf with plenty of seaside towns to enjoy.
Our travels in Mexico had started a few weeks previously when we had crossed the Mexican border at Nogales in southern Arizona and wandered down the coast of the Gulf of California, although we favour its alternate name, 'the Sea of Cortez'. We much prefer, we discovered on this trip, that we like the Baja coast of the Gulf a lot more than this mainland shoreline, but of course you don't know that when you start out.

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Mexican border town of Nogales on our way south.
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Ron and some colourful birds he found.
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Fishing village along the Gulf coast.
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Viv being serenaded at dinner.
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Sign on Mexican cafe.
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Ron enjoying a beer at a beachside restaurant.
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On Route De Tequila.
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Magdalena central plaza on Ruote De Tequila.
We joined up with the La Ruta del Tequila (The Tequila Trail) and wandered inland through hills and farmland lined with the blue weber agave plant that is the only agave species that produces tequila. We should have stopped at the small historic and friendly towns of Magdalena or Tequila itself for longer, but instead, we pushed on.
Passing through Mexico's second largest city of Gaudalajara on a Friday afternoon in peak hour we had the misfortune to be pulled over by a motorcycle cop. These lone sharks are the worse breed of police we've found in our nine years of overlanding the planet and we spent a half hour arguing with him about a 'fine' and monies to be paid. Finally he waved us away - it was dark by then - and we pulled up in a big truck stop behind a Pemex fuel station and called it a camp for the night. In all our travels in Mexico and North America that has been the only time we have been hassled by a crook cop!
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Our overnight stop after our 'crook cop' incident.
Over the next two weeks we followed portions of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which was the first route traced by the Spaniards in America - it was also known as the Royal Inland Road, or the Silver Route - which stretched 1600 miles north of Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Most of it has been swallowed under the bitumen of freeways and pot-holed, black-topped highways, but you can still find the occasional dirt road section that harks back to an earlier time. 
World Heritage Site of SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE 
We propped into the historic town and World Heritage Site of San Miguel de Allende, once an important part of the Royal Road, and took in the sights of this fabulous town and yarned to other world overlanders who were using the popular small campground in the heart of the village as a base to explore the local area. We really enjoyed this old city, and once again at one stage while wandering the cobblestone streets got tangled up with a parade, this time a wedding march, which saw all the major players of the bridal party carrying glasses of wine and shots of tequila that were continually refilled by hat wearing, basket-carrying ladies.
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Statue of General Ignacio Allende - a prominent figure in Mexico's War of Independence.
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Celebrating the dead is a national tradition.

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World Heritage listed San Miguel de Allende.
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Wedding party - there was plenty of grog around!
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Squeezing the Dodge out from our camping spot in San Miguel de Allende.
TEPOTZOTLAN - Mexico City
To explore Tepotzotlan and Mexico City a little further south we had stopped at another favored overlanders camp – Pepe's Hotel - on the northern outskirts of this gigantic metropolis. Once again we rubbed shoulders with German and Swiss travellers as we took in the cathedral at Tepotzotlan (aka, the Temple San Francisco Javier) and then the Teotihuacan Pyramids, with its mighty Pyramid of the Sun and smaller, but no less impressive Pyramid of the Moon, both dating back to 100BC. 
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The doorway to the cathedral at Tepotzotlan which dates back to 1580.
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Part of the incredible altar at the cathedral.
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He has seen better days!
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Viv enjoying a banana split after a heavy day of culture.
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All part of the Royal Road.
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Viv and the Pyramid of the Sun - Teotihuacan.
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Looking towards the Pyramid of the Moon - Teotihuacan.
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The great central plaza of Teotihuacan with the Pyramid of the Sun overlooking all.
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Celebrating our visit to the Teotihuacan Pyramids with a coke and ice cream.
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Last night in Mexico - in another truck carpark!
Driving North to the Texas Border
With our Mexico City adventures behind us we drove the Dodge north passing through the once rich gold and silver city of San Luis Potosi before crossing the Tropic of Cancer just south of Matehuala. The countryside was drier and poorer as we headed north and we basically travelled along a wide valley for most of the day - occasionally we crossed a low range into yet another valley, but the scenery changed little.

Between Matehuala and Saltillo there are not many major towns but lots of restaurants, big and small, so we stopped at a restaurant and fuel complex about 140km south of Saltillo. It was in the middle of the road between the two lanes of traffic and had a big truck park - it was far from glamorous but it was safe and we were too busy making a mile to worry about more fancy digs for the night. In that vein, we had chicken and chips and a beer and then went and set the camper up in amongst the big boys; it was a bloody noisy night with trucks coming and going all the time.​​
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On the road north.

Next day we wound our way through ranges, dropping all the time to the outskirts of Monterrey - Mexico's 3rd biggest city and most affluent. Our biggest impression was of small dog-box like houses crammed up close together dotted here and there and over the hillsides of the outer suburbs, cramming people into cheap accommodation.  

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This Kombi (for those who love them) was still working hard in Mexico.
At Columbia we crossed the border into the USA. It was a very easy crossing - the permit/sticker (which you need to procure for the vehicle on arrival in Mexico to ensure you take the vehicle back out of the country) was handed in at a roadside office. The money - over $360 - was supposed to be refunded in a few days but it took over a month and they changed the exchange rate, so we were $60 out of pocket. Still that was better than the last time when we didn't get any refund at all!

On the USA side of the border we rolled into Laredo, Texas. It was good to be back in the good ol' US of A!


Contacts & Information

Eat Mexico Culinary Tour: https://eatmexico.com