December 18, 2006

Taxco, Mexico

Doug and I both comment daily on how nice it is to be back in Mexico and how sane it seems when compared to all the other Central American countries. What we have figured out is that all the other countries are much smaller and much more populated, so they seem like they are all that much busier.

We decided to head inland to the mountains and bypass Acapulco on the way back. Although we wanted to see our friend Dan there, we also really wanted to see and experience some new countryside. So we traveled some curvy, fun desert mountain roads that were a blast on the bikes. Just below one mountain pass we did come to a line up of traffic, which of course we drove right to the front of the line to see a big mess right in the middle of the road. As it turns out a semi with trailer had driven off the road and down a very steep embankment. We never did find out the reason why, but the truck was pretty messed up. They were just finishing up getting the thing out when we arrived, so we didn't have too wait long. Not long after that, we saw another semi on the side of the road that looked like it had a recent head on collision. We were both pretty glad that has not been our fate as of yet.

Collisions seems fairly common in most of these countries. I suspect because the driving is so crazy. None the less, each country seems to have their own way of showing on the roadside where people have died. Some countries erect elaborate shrines on the side of the road. Costa Rica paints a specific symbol in the middle of the pavement where the accident was. In Mexico they put crosses on the side of the road. And on just about every corner in Mexico there seems to be a cross, if not multiple.

We climbed up another mountain road, which led us into the town of Taxco. As we arrived, the traffic was backed up for miles. We began to weave through all the cars, which went right through the middle of town. And we stopped at the first hotel we came to, which happened to be right in the middle of town, right where we wanted to be... perfect. Taxco is an old town built on the side of a mountain. I was impressed with this place 20 years ago and even more enthralled this trip. Back then I recall it being a little one horse town, but nowadays it is a pretty big thriving city. It is one of the most unique places I have been, with some ancient architecture and structures built right on top of, and next to each other, to make everything appear stacked up the side of this mountain. It is like walking through a maze when you go out to explore this town. Doug and I were fairly convinced that we would never find our way back to our hotel. The main square and Cathedral in town is what I remember from last trip. The Cathedral is 500 years old, and one of the most intricate and beautiful pieces of architecture that we have seen. It is truly amazing. I was in awe by the markets here, which are open air, but so packed in between buildings that it is crowded and is literally a narrow maze of walkways, chock full of any type of fresh produce, meat, or trinket that you could possibly imagine.

Taxco is also known for its silver mines. So the shops are full of silver, and there is so much of it that it ends up being fairly inexpensive to buy. We spent several hours exploring these silver shops and shopping.

Once back to our hotel, we checked out the roof of the place that offered amazing night time views of town. And Doug ended up talking to a few older guys in the parking area working on a bottle of tequila. They let us partake in a toast to our friend Dixon White, who's birthday was on this day, and he's really the one responsible for Doug and I ever meeting in the first place. He taught us both how to paraglide at his place in Flagstaff. Unfortunately Dixon passed away several years ago, so it only seemed proper to have a toast on his birthday... and Taxco was a place he really loved, so we were glad to be here.

Well, we ended up spending several hours with these guys, and in the end, 1 and a half bottles of tequila was gone. Our Spanish must be coming along because we had steady conversation with these gusy for about 2 hours, and learned all about each other in the process. It was a pretty lively and animated conversation, especially as the tequila started to sink in. Since I'm not real fond of tequila, I had the one drink and that was it. Sure was fun anyway though. Jorge and Jaime kept us well entertained until late, when we bid our farewells.

I'm not sure if I had mentioned before or not, but what really makes this trip is this type of interactions with the people. They really make for a unique experience, and a fun one at that. And everywhere we go, people are friendly, interested in our trip, and proud of their country. I only hope that in the States we offer the same thing to travelers.

By morning light we explore some more of Taxco. The markets are alive with morning commerce. I cannot resist the fresh watermelon and nectarines. It is bliss after some of the food that we have been eating. We'll explore Taxco some more before continuing on our journey.