Headed back down the road towards Aguascalientes further south, stopping at the small town of San Juanto for some cheap fruit, veg, pollo and delicious peanuts with lime and salt. If you’ve never tried these they are the perfect accompaniment to a chilled cerveza on a hot afternoon. Offering the guy at the counter some Doritos, he declined but promptly stuffed a cooked pork joint into Matt’s hand to eat, and it was also a lovely beer drinkers munchy.
We definitely underestimated the driving distances in Mexico, and again ended up staying in an overpriced side of the road transit hotel called ‘Winn’s’ in La Junta, purely as the sunlight was all but gone which makes the car swallowing potholes impossible to see. At 300 Pesos this guy had us bent over – no hot water, a TV that didn’t work and no WiFi, pricks. Guess they knew this and love a Gringo or two, though was far removed from the hotel with the same name in Las Vegas. The only good thing about La Junta is the road out of it.
Tolls, tolls, tolls. Mexico has ’em in abundance. Wanting to blitz though the north of the country we didn’t really have any choice but to take some of the tolled highways, and reading some other blogs that suggested we’d pay a total of USD$20 to drive from the north to the Yucatan, we figured it wasn’t going to cost much. Wrong. These things are more expensive than anything in the UK, USA or Australia, even some of the Italian and French tolls are cheaper. Compared with what you pay in Europe, we found that for the most part, the condition of these ‘cuota’ roads were pretty poor, and several times the adjacent ‘libre’ roads were in a far better state.
Driving through another huge downpour with the doona spread across our laps (at 2,000m it was freezing!!), we diverted off the tolls at Camargo, as conditions leading up to this were atrocious. Disappointingly the bastard free road still brought us out onto the toll booth for Jimenez. You just can’t avoid them! Pitstopping in Gomez Palacio for the night, we again had to suffice with an overpriced, though lovely hotel room at the Campo Tourito. We had intended to stay at the Best Western as we’d read they allow RV parking, but and with half the cities power out due to the constant rains and floods, this place was pitch black. Next morning, Sod’s Law, we passed numerous cheaper looking accommodations.
Leaving super early in the morning to get to Aguas Calientes in a day, we noted that the gas station at the toll booth outside of Gomez Palacio offered food, Sky TV, WiFi and toilets, in what looked like a safe place to overnight park. If only we’d pushed on the night before. Cruising down the road it wasn’t long until the side became littered with knock shops (brothels), with names like Angelica’s and Mary’s. Pulling into the gas station next door to one such establishment to fill up on gas Porkchop took a thirsty 97lts! The emptiest we’d pushed it to date, as exclaimed by the attendant when he shouted that we were ‘Empty!’ We also purchased some dirt cheap gorditas, doughy parcels containing either meat or vegetables, from an old lady wanding around with a basket.
Only descriptive things along this stretch are the passing of the Modelo/Corona Brewery, a massive beast of steaming chimney stacks and pipework. Arriving to yet another Mexican road toll charity booth we were confronted with a battalion of what turned out to be students with a load of military personnel milling around. Pulling up to the booth we were instantly mobbed by the youth. After a lot of back and forth in our pretty rough Spanish and their worse English, we eventually realised that the students were on protest and the toll booths were free to pass through with a little ‘donation’.
Passing through and taking the road towards Aguascalientes (Hot Waters), we noted that the town of Ojocalientes (Hot Eyes), if time permits, would be worthy of a stop, and if you need anything they had the plenty of shops near the main plaza with everyday household goods. Exiting through the east end of town, with parched mouths in the sweltering afternoon heat, we drove through the best bottleo (drive through liquor store) for a six pack of refreshing amber nectar.
Arriving in Aguascalientes and looking for reasonable accommodation at an affordable price with parking is not easy here. After driving round and round and round looking for a Best Western which allowed RV parking, but no longer existed, we landed on the road to the airport which has loads of hotels, eventually choosing the cheapest looking one, La Joya. For the modest price of MXN 200 we scored two double beds, good WiFi and cable TV, with only a short walk into town, although unfortunately you can’t bring your chickens inside, they’ll have to stay in the car. Only thing to bring you down on a good day is having;
‘Some Mexican also wreck my shit’ – Eazy E.
The guy, like most of the Mexican drivers, was too impatient to wait for us to turn into the OXXO carpark and kindly side swiped the van. Luckily he only hit the side step and it would have done more damage to him that us, dick.