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John and Mandi

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The Sound of Music, Guanajuato to Xilitla

Mar 10, 2016
by John

There is no shortage of stories describing the many sounds of Mexico. They are often proclaimed as being an integral part of the local culture, an authentic experience when visiting. Experiencing it first hand, as opposed to reading about it, is quite the education. We didn't think we would miss the dead quiet of night. If not for the dogs, church bells, boom boxes, roosters, and early birds (literally) - Mexico would be a wonderfully silent place at night. Alas, that is not so, we are adapting as best we can.

What is perplexing is how workers leave boom boxes on at full volume when they leave for the day. The barley understandable reverb distorted tunes play all night, echoing throughout the neighborhoods. Hammer is the only word that comes to mind. We also can't solve the riddle of how campgrounds are always next to a church with the most fervent of ringing bells, never on the proper hour, but rung just the same.

Weekend parties are to be expected, the dogs seem to have never figured that out. They treat every night like Saturday and bark at the bark of the rooftop dog next door as always and forever more. We're sure there are crickets chirping, never our ears have heard that familiar lull. The moment we found that far off place the only other souls there kept the flag high with off tune sing-alongs until almost dawn.

There's no need to fight it, we do the best we can. Honestly, it is kind of part of the charm. It's almost always off key, at the wrong time, a dog's break from chasing their tail, and surprisingly a tree full of birds all just saying it the best way they can...Viva Mexico!

What We Did

Guanajuato

Reaching our list of top tens, a place we could live one day, Guanajuato is a city filled with color and extremely cool people. The Morril RV Park is perched on a hill so it was an easy walk to town and a painfully slow one back to the van. At around $7 US a night it was a little expensive for just a spot in a car park, yet we wouldn't change a thing. We wandered down into town each day and crawled back after eating way too much food, the cappuccinos helped fuel the return voyage.

We did manage to climb the stairs to the famous statue of Pipila and get a great view of the entire city. There we met Miles & Aaron, Head First Diaries, and spent a couple hours swapping stories and leads for other places to visit. They are filming their trip and releasing episodes on their website, a juxtaposition to our droning drivel. Two young guys, some cameras, and a VW Syncro...never short on antics.

One of our secondary reasons for visiting Guanajuato was to locate a couple of eReaders. We thought we could get by with other devices, nothing comes close. We had learned about a Mexican bookstore chain that partnered with Kobo so we dropped in and made their, and our, day. We are still short a cover, something we'll look for around Oaxaca. Who'd a thunk I'd want to be a readin'.

Oh, the thing about the barking dogs on the roof tops...yup.

Guanajuato, Mexico

I spy something orange, wait, no, yellow

Guanajuato, Mexico

This isn't Mexico, there aren't any dogs on the roofs

Morril RV Park, Guanajuato, Mexico

Do you like my decorations?

Guanajuato, Mexico

I think I can, I think I can...

Guanajuato, Mexico

Just pounding a drum when there's work to be done

Pipila, Guanajuato, Mexico

Damn it, we're parked on the other side

Pipila, Guanajuato, Mexico

He's sure

During one of our forays into the city we visited the Museo de las Momias. The story of how the mummies ended up in the museum is quite sad, borderline tragic. In short, a cemetery tax was once required so if a family couldn't pay their relatives would be exhumed and, if mummified, eventually end up on display. The tax has been abolished but the museum still exhibits the original mummies. It's odd, cool, creepy, and interestingly neat. How some of the clothing survived is quite baffling. We expected to be grossed out, when we left we went to a restaurant and had a really big lunch without issue.

Museo de las Momias, Guanajuato, Mexico

How we feel in the desert

Museo de las Momias, Guanajuato, Mexico

Gurrl, you gotta get ur nails did

Museo de las Momias, Guanajuato, Mexico

The moment they noticed my creeper reflection

Tamasopo

Since I first heard of it, I knew we were going to visit Tamasopo. The expectation that had built up in my mind led to a pretty big dissapointment when we arrived. The word must be out as everyone had jacked up their rates 200 to 300%. The Cascadas Trampolin have been under, and are still under, major development so the pristine image I expected isn't there. That being said, the park is still very beautiful and was a wonderful spot to have our morning brew after a very pricey night in a field.

San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Left? We're pretty sure our GPS says to go right

Cascadas Trampolin, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Um, I'm not sure that's just a ditch

Cascadas Trampolin, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Tarzan got behind on his taxes, this could be a steal

Cascadas Trampolin, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Gringo bait

Cascadas Trampolin, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

If you're such a badass then run all three at the same time

Knowing there were many other places in the area we ventured to Puente de Dios. This is the spot of magic. The owner, Francisco, and his wife are doing their best to keep the majority of the place as natural as possible. The swimming area gets very busy with day visitors but there were times we had it all to ourselves. We also ran back into Miles & Aaron and spent time hanging out. They are a riot, what I refer to as the modern odd couple. We expect to see them again.

For us, this is one of the places we will never forget. It cost less than $5 US per day to camp including admission to Poza Azul. The hike down makes a formidable walk out, totally worth it. Life jackets are available for rent as the currents are quite swift, we didn't use any since we feel we are fairly strong swimmers. There are ropes to help move about the swimming area and to follow through the cave to a lower section of river with a much easier way to get out of the water.

We spent two nights at Puente de Dios, then visited Xilitla before returning for another. We would have stayed longer but there was a heat wave, 40C, so we headed out. Francisco is a wonderful photographer who also speaks English extremely well. He and his family are a real treat. Combining the people and the natural surroundings, pure bliss. This is a place we will visit again someday.

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Who knows what the aliens are trying to tell us

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Hey, those walls are held up by strings

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

I've never heard about the creature from the green lagoon

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

This ball wants to be caught

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

If they can skelotonize a cow that fast what about my scrawny ass

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

That zipline looks mighty suspicious

Puente de Dios, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Syncro-nized

Xilitla

A few hours from Tamasopso sits an architectural anomaly within a jungle. It definitely invokes Indiana Jones and the like. We figured we were fairly close so we should check it out. The mountains are smokey, reminiscent of Western North Carolina, which really adds to the place. In summary, it's surreal. Age is starting to catch up to it so several structures are under repair or off limits. We ended up camping at the Finca Santa Monica, $5 US per night,  convincing the owners to let us park on the level area in front of their carport. Unsuspected by us, the tenants in the nearby tree surely made sure we didn't sleep in.

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Fuzzy tree balls

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Ahhh the dichotomy, a literal concrete jungle

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Dracula comes out at dusk blah blah blah

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Puttin Burt Reynolds to shame

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

One can always spot the jungle loon

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Still can't drink it

Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Oh, that flower has power

For fun, and probably due to lack of sleep, we shot a short video out of the van window to memorialize the almost infinite serenade sung by our neighbors. While this is the full chorus, a lone cacique made it a point to start promptly before 6AM. He must have needed his practice for the big show. Shortly after his solo performance began he was joined by more and more of his comrades, the crescendo lasted the rest of the day until dusk lulled them into slumber. We absolutely adore wildlife, the thought of blasting them with a shotgun did cross our minds. Lesson learned: don't park near trees full of ballsacks. Enjoy.

Honorable Mentions

While we don't list every place and thing we do there are some that stick in our minds. Weeks later we catch ourselves mentioning them to others or just savoring the memory of the exquisite cuisine we consumed. Here are a couple standouts.

Cafe Conquistador, Guanajuato

We came upon a quaint little cafe our first day in Guanajuato with exceptional cappuccinos for less than $2 US each. We tried other places to our chagrin, eventually figuring out we shouldn't mess with a great thing. They were perfectly located next to Tunel Santa Fe, the one we used on our way to and from our campground.

Habibti Restaurant, Guanajuato

Great falafel sandwiches. We ate there twice after finally making our way to that side of town. Had we found it sooner we probably would have eaten there every day. Adding tabbouleh and/or hummus kicks it up a notch. Nom nom!


Say what? (4)
Mar 28, 2016 at 05:54 PM
So funny.. we were just talking about what our blog is going to say regarding the "symphony of Mexico". No other place like it that I've been to as far as the all night pounding music goes. I'm now craving a falafel!
Mar 28, 2016 at 07:45 PM
We should have recorded the sounds of each place to give an Overlander quiz. No matter the noise, Mexico is fantastic. When you guys reach Guanajuato please eat some for us! The food experience on Mainland is other worldly. I'm not a foodie, or at least I don't think I am, but damn is it so freaking good!
mary vrooman
Dec 11, 2016 at 10:28 PM
Hi we met you at the RV park in Loreto. We now live in Loreto. Are more settled than you. Sold our home in US and moved here.
LOVE your blog. Am having so much fun reading it. The lines below the pics are funny!
We will be traveling some around the Baja mostly but your mainland stories make me want to go.
How is the traffic? I have heard it is much busier. It sounds much cheaper and better food.
Been reading Joe and Josee's also since we met them with you. Glad you are out having the time of your life. Doubt you will get back here but you are welcome if you do! Cheers Mary and Warren
I cannot believe the amount of people you all meet! We travel in a 11 ft Truck camper.
Dec 22, 2016 at 12:31 PM
Hey Mary and Warren!

Congrats on making the move to Loreto. The Mainland is definitely busier in places but it is well worth it. We feel that Baja was much more affordable but that does depend on amount of driving and recreation level. Both Baja and the Mainland are special experiences for us and we will surely look you guys up when we eventually make it back to Loreto. As for meeting people, that does seem to be a big part of our trip and we are most definitely richer for it! Have a great holiday season!!!
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