As we were leaving the Acapulco campground the sun was coming up over the lagoon as glorious as ever. The drive back to Mexico City was all up hill so we wanted to get as far as we could before the hottest part of the day.
On the drive from Acapulco to Mexico City, for the first time the whole trip, we were stopped and boarded by Federales. We saw the checkpoint up ahead and prepared to slow down and wave as we drove by. This time however, a uniformed man standing on the side of the pavement flagged us down and motioned for us to pull into the parking area. We stopped and Bill got out with all of our passports and the papers for the camper and the motorcycle. He handed them over; the soldier took them into the little stucco building at the back of the lot, Bill following right along. Then two soldiers came out of the building and came up to the open door. One was much older and seemed to be in charge. He nodded at me and asked permission to come in, as if I wouldn't let him! He indicated that the younger one, who appeared to be no more than a boy, should look in the back and in the closets. Dutifully the young soldier opened the closet, then the bathroom and looked in. I heard him gasp in surprise as he saw the toilet and shower. Meanwhile the leader opened and closed a couple of cupboards then went over to the to table where John Mc and Randy were playing cards. He held out his hand and motioned for the cards. Randy handed them to him; he turned them over, held them up to the light coming in from the window and then ran his finger over their edges and backs. He shuffled them, nodded, smiled and gave them back to Randy. He beckoned to the boy, who was opening and closing the microwave to join him. They thanked us and got off. As they were going out the door we could tell the young one talking about the "baño." We were boarded four more times on that short trip. Everyone was very polite and in and out quickly. At each stop several more stamps were added to our papers. Made me wonder what they thought we were carrying. Or what had happened in the previous days to make them so vigilant
Other than that the trip was uneventful.
It was late when we arrived back in Mexico City and as before it was cold and overcast. We had planned to stay at a KOA on the outskirts of the City, but the prices were outrageous over 500 pesos just to park. If we wanted to use the sewer or electricity it would be another 50.00. So we continued on into the City and got a spot back at the same trailer park we stayed at before. It was convenient to everything and had a place where we could safely park the trailer, so we didn't mind. By the time we got settled it was pretty late. Again everyone had to sleep inside, as there was nowhere to pitch a tent. So we all go to bed early.
Saturday when we woke up the sun was out and it was warmer so we decided to drive out to see the Teotihuacan Pyramids that were built during 100AD or 100BC. They cover over eight square miles.
I got out the map and managed to weave us through the city, around the traffic circles and through the one-way streets and got us there without any major predicaments. No problem that is except that the tape holding the back window in decided not to hold any longer. As we got closer to the park the road turned to dirt and became rougher and after one particularly hard jounce out popped the window, luckily, right into the back seat. Randy went to the back and propped pillows against it then sat up against it holding it in place for the rest of the ride. We parked in the lot piled lots of pillows, blankets and the TV in front of the window to hold it up and hoped that the window looked secure to any casual observer.
It was quite a walk up a sandy road to the ruins. As we entered the grounds we were walking on the "Street of the Dead" an area paved with volcanic stones. The first things to catch your eye were the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. They were majestic. Besides the pyramids there were temples, homes and plazas in various stages of excavation. The remnants of the buildings showed they originally had a cement-like surface covering. Vivid murals remained on the walls that were still standing. Even the boys were impressed by the scale and age of the site. If one wanted to they could climb to the top of The Pyramid of the Sun. Bill and I walked over with the boys to take a closer look, when they started to climb the uneven steps we found a place in the shade and sat and watched them go up - up -up.
On the way back to the motorhome we stopped and watched a demonstration of an ancient Indian rite. Five Indian men dressed only in leather loincloths and ankle bracelets climbed to the top of a high pole with ropes, these were tied to their ankles. Once at the top they wound the ropes around the crown of the pole. One man remained sitting on top playing a flute and the other four jumped off. As the pole rotated their ropes unraveled and they flew closer to the ground. The ropes were measured just right so the heads of the men just grazed the ground when the ropes were completely unwound. As they reached the ground the men twisted to their feet and took the ropes off their ankles just as the pole stopped revolving. Paul wanted to try it. John said he didn't want to watch any more it made him dizzy to see them going round and round.
We had to get the back window fixed or replaced right away. So that was our next stop. After driving around and asking lots of questions and directions we found a glazier who could replace the window, not in one piece like it was, but in two pieces with a rubber gasket between the two panes. (From then on if you watched the back while we were in motion the two pieces looked like a fanny doing the rumba.)
Anyway, Bill backed the motorhome into the shop, because it was so long the front end stretched over the sidewalk into the street. The job took quite a while to complete so the boys, of course, found a way to pass the time. Before we left home, Bill had installed a PA system, for no reason, just in case it was ever needed. The microphone was inside and there was a speaker mounted in front of the engine right behind the grill. I don’t remember who got the bright idea but soon every time some one walked past the front end, the motor home seemed to let out a great big raspberry. The double takes were priceless.
I saw Bill heading towards us so I told them, “You need to stop that! That’s not nice, stop it.” Of course I was laughing so hard I could hardly talk. "Here comes your Dad!"
When Bill pulled opened the door and looked inside, we all were occupied with cards, reading and cleaning. So very innocent.
He took in our innocent faces and said, “If you are going to do that you need to do it right." Picking the microphone up he went, "STPPPPPPPPPPPPPT,” into it. The lady passing in front of us almost dropped her baby. She practically ran the rest of the way across the street, looking back at the motorhome every other step.
The next day we needed to call home to see where things stood with the house. No problem, right? Wrong. Even in Mexico City it was hard to find a phone to make a long distance call. We drove from place to place, post offices, businesses and corner booths. Finally, thanks to a tourist guide we happen to meet, we found a pay phone right downtown that we could use. Then we were charged an extra 10% tax for using the phone for long distance even though it was a collect call. NO ONE WAS HOME. Oh, well.
The day was still young so I suggested we visit the Basilica of Guadeloupe, the new one. I located it on the map and off we went.
On the way to a religious experience we had what was up to then our second (first was the hootchy-cootchy) frightening experience.
As we drove through the city we saw hundreds and hundreds of young soldiers in sharply creased summer khaki uniforms and polished helmets walking along the sidewalks and in the streets. They were not marching or running, just strolling. We were speculating about what was going on when Bill decided ask. He pulled over to the curb, opened the door and called to one of the young men to come over. From the insignia on his collar we surmised he was an officer. He grinned and sprinted over to the door, yanking off his helmet as he ran up the steps past Bill.
Well let me tell you that was a major mistake. All of a sudden every soldier in sight thought it would be a good idea to ride in or on the Gringo’s vehicle. Soldier after soldier piled through the open door, pushing and shoving and laughing.
Pretty soon the whole camper was full of pushing, jostling soldiers. It was getting really scary. There were soldiers in every seat, standing in every available space, and climbing the ladder to get on the roof. By now Paul and Gil were really frightened and they had disappeared under the front table. (The only place there weren’t any soldiers.) The whole camper was rocking and shaking as if it where about to tip over. Bill stood on his seat and yelled in Spanish for every one to get out. John Mc was trying to shove soldiers back out the door, but more and more were still trying to squirm their way in.
John Mc leaned down and picked up a machete that was lying on the floor under the dashboard. He looked like a mad man swinging the machete and yelling in English at the nearest soldier, screaming at him to, "Get the hell out of here. Go on and get out of here! Get out!" No one moved, no one could - they were packed in so tight and more were still trying to get in.
We could see legs and feet through all the windows where soldiers were hanging off of the roof. More were still trying to climb the back ladder to the roof. We heard metal tear as the ladder pulled loose from the roof and swung down into the street causing the soldiers to scramble and drop off. Bill reached under his seat and pulled out one of the BB guns. He aimed it right at one of the soldiers closest to him and yelled at him in Spanish to tell everyone to get out or he would shoot all of them. Pandemonium broke loose. Now everyone was trying to get back out the door. Pushing, shoving, and walking on top of each other trying to get away from the gun. Bill pointed the gun at the vent where a laughing face was looking down. The laugh turned to fear and the face disappeared as the guy slid off the roof down the side of the camper. Later we saw the two black lines down the sides from the toes of his boots. Finally only the one soldier standing next to Bill was left. Bill motioned for him to sit down, with a frightened look he did. We slammed the door shut and started up, drove a few blocks away from the crowds stopped and asked the very scared soldier what was going on. When he was finally convinced we meant him no harm he stopped shaking and told us it was the "Day of Soldiers" and they had been in a parade and were all on the way home or to their barracks. He apologized for the bad time we had but said no harm was meant. He was smiling when he got out, waved good-bye and set off on his way home.
It was a while before we all stopped shaking. A little peace and quiet would be nice so we continued on to the site of the Shrine. We drove past the old one. It was sinking into the ground and could not be entered. In fact, the whole area around the old church was roped off and machinery was busy pumping water into the ground under it to try to save it.
From the outside the new Basilica resembled a sports stadium. It looked like a huge unfinished concrete dome. Inside it was just beyond description it was so beautiful. It's very modern, the floors and walls glistening black and white marble and the ceiling bamboo. You rode a "moving sidewalk" to go past the painting of the Virgin. There were candles and collection dishes all around, and everyone was putting something into them. We rode the sidewalk past the Virgin, lit some candles, made a contribution and said a" Thank You" for getting us this far with no catastrophes.
When we got back to the camper, we had to find some one who could weld the ladder back up securely. Also needed to buy groceries and finish some laundry to get ready to head south again. Once the ladder was fixed we drove around some more, we were going to Chapultepec Park. It has a zoo, gardens and a lake for boating. As usual I was reading the map and giving directions. This turned out to be one of those not so nice episodes that will forever remain in my memory. I told Bill to make a right turn, he continued straight. I again said, "Bill, you need to turn right and go back to the boulevard we just passed to get there. "
He kept driving straight.
"Bill," I said again, "If you don't turn around we won't ever get there." For some reason this set him off.
"I don't give a God Damn if we ever get there!" he replied.
Of course this set me off. From there it turned into a shouting match that continued until he pulled over and stopped. By then I was in tears, the boys were upset and no cared if we went one more foot.
To this day I don't know what the real problem was, but he eventually apologized and we turned around and went to the park. But we were a rather downcast group and didn't really enjoy the moment. Until I was reading my travel journal I had even forgotten we were going to the park.
Back in Mexico City after leaving Acapulco