Saturday, December 30, 2006

December 30, 2006
Nice day at home. Lots to report, but will try to catch up after the first. Meanwhile, here's the next two pages of my Mexico Sojourn Sketchbook.

We landed at Creel, on the train at sundown on Wednesday (December 21). It is a high mountain town at over 7,000 feet. It was quite cold as we detrained and we were immediately besieged by aggressive kids trying to get us to stay at the Margarita Hotel. We ended up there but it wasn't because of the kids. We were tired and didn't feel like walking around in the cold dark trying to see where to stay, so when an adult approached us with a ride in a shuttle we accepted. He also was an advance man for the Margarita Hotel. All our reservations about the place vanished as we entered a dorm like dining room-office area with wooden tables and chairs and the pungent smells of homemade chile rellenos being prepared in the kitchen from two Mexican women who could have jumped right out of casting for Viva Zapata. Our room was nice ($40) but had a faulty gas heater and the young man who showed it to us said he would fix it. He also became known as "The Mexican John Lennon" because of his wire glasses and shaggy shoulder length hair.

Dinner was at seven and there were tourists from Australia, England, France and Northern California in the intimate dining room. The windows were steamed and the Mexican server brought hot plates of the best chile rellenos I've ever had in my life (and it came with the room!).

Thomas was thrilled because a pretty French girl named Alex, who we had all met at the Guerrero Hotel in El Fuerte, was also staying at the Margarita and they soon became an item and went off into the night to find "the scene." The next day T. Bell told me they were chatting, over drinks, and she said, "Do you know what we hear about American women?" and T. said no, and she said, "We hear that they drink Coke all day and get fat." And Tommy said, "That's funny, because we hear French women don't bathe and they all have hairy armpits."

"But no!" she protested. "That is not true!" T. smiled and said, "Well, neither is the other one, so be careful what you believe.""

The heater went out three times during the night and we all had visions of being gassed to death. I woke up several times and thought, "Am I dead? I should check on that pilot light, but, perhaps that smell of bean farts with negate the propane."

Yes, it was a ridiculous rationalization, but we lived.

The next day we got a new hotel at Cabana Berte's complete with a classic fireplace for $40 and it included breakfast in the owner's kitchen (my favorite part of the trip, eating in the dining rooms and kitchens of the owner's houses!). I sketched the fireplace in the morning as it crackled and popped cedar logs (lower, left-hand page).

On the right are several scenes we saw outside of Creel, and a bumper sticker on the driver's side door of a Custom F-150 pickup parked by the bus we rode in (Jesus Te Ama). Also, I sketched the church we saw on our Vespa motorcycle adventure, and two kids who were standing on the bus we rode to Chihuahua. We also found real coffee at the Combate Cafe in downtown Creel and that was fun, eating fresh made quesadillas with steaming hot coffee and watching Mexican soap operas. We were the only ones in the cafe and that was a treat as well. We also had many of the other sites all to ourselves, like the hot springs and the river trip. It was like we were the only ones allowed to visit and that was sweet.

"If you're scared, just hollar and you'll find it ain't so lonesome out there."
—Joe Sugden

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