Road trip, installment 1

November 24, 2008

Paul and I and son Phil and his family piled into our rented minivan for the drive to Colima last Thursday.  We headed out of town to catch the cuota to Tepic, and before we had a chance to feel like we were on our way, what happened?  Another Revolution Day parade – this one in Villa Unión!  Sometimes it seems like parades are a daily event here, and since we had watched one in Mazatlán the day before, I guess they are.

We finally hit the cuota and started making good time.  We saw a lot of mango trees.  I mean a lot!

We saw lots of birds, egrets especially in the marshy areas.  There was a lot of beautiful scenery as we drove through Sinaloa.  I love the scene below.

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The mountains are all around us. The small farms are beautiful.

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Near Tepic there is some evidence of volcanic activity.  Then you head up into the mountains.

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The nearer we get to Tequila, the more agave we see growing.  I love the blue tint it gives the hillsides.

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Below is the town of Tequila, taken from the view point on the cuota.

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Driving through Guadalajara to make the connection with Highway 54 to Colima was an experience I won’t forget!  There was some sort of road work and I got caught driving the minivan through the craziest merge I have ever done.  I felt proud of myself but it was pretty hairy.

By the time we got to Guadalajara we had been on the road 5 hours, or maybe a little more.  We’d packed sandwiches, apples, and  soda so we were pretty much able to drive, only stopping for gas.

After Guadalajara, Paul and I were in familiar territory as we’ve driven the road before and so had son Phil.  The cuota is an excellent road, and before we knew it we were seeing this familiar sight:

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This is the active volcano El Volcán Nevado de Colima.  Many times you see smoke coming out of the top, and sometimes its eruptions are very dramatic.  (By the way, that’s one of the reasons we decided not to retire to Colima, even though we love the city…coming from the Pacific NW we have had enough earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to last us.)

Shortly we arrived at the city of Colima.  We headed to Centro to deliver Phil and his family to their hotel.  But Wait!  We hit town right as another parade is getting ready to start!  And not a little parade, either.  We saw dozens of riders on horseback and  other queued up participants.  Of course Centro was gridlocked and it was now dark so we headed back to our hotel and put them in a cab.  What a way to end a pleasant car trip and visit – with a frantic trip through unfamiliar detours – but oh well, it was still fun.

The next day we had breakfast with our other son Adam and his wife Martha.  We had just seen them a few weeks before when they came to visit us in Mazatlan, so this was a treat!  After breakfast we headed out to Comala to see some artists that make furniture, rustic chairs and chaises similar to the one below. (I forgot to take picture while we were there.)

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There is an art cooperative outside of Comala called Sociedad Cooperativa de Artesanía Pueblo Blanco that makes this type of furniture, and also tables.  Some of it is painted in the style of Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo – some of which Paul and I like (like the fruit) and some kind of scares us (the faces.)  You can buy the furniture painted or not.  We’ve been looking for furniture for our almost completed patio and these are really nice.

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The cooperative is in this complex of buildings that at one time was a large home.  The buildings are wonderful, with exposed vigas and large light fixtures.  See the grass growing on the tile roof?  The large tree to the right is a parota  tree – also known as huanacaxtle.  The wood is very hard and termite resistant and I think they are just beautiful.  The furniture here is made from parota.

We all needed to hit the mall for a quick shopping trip, but on our way I snapped a picture of the dancing Colima dogs, below.

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We said our goodbyes,  checked out of our hotel and hit the road for Guadalajara.  We stopped at the side of the road just a few miles outside town, though, to stock up on the wonderful sea salt from Colima.  Three bags for 25 pesos, if you can believe it.

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Tomorrow, Guadalajara.

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I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

8 Comments
    1. Nancy — And I thought the merges on I-5 through Lakewood were some of the worst. If you are down near Colima next year, you will have to stop by Melaque.

    1. Michael & Steve, Any traffic merge nightmare in an American city can’t hold a candle to this one in Guadalajara. We’d been following pretty good signage for miles, and knew that the exit for Colima was coming up. I was driving, and saw the sign. Off I went…and came up to the corner where there were three or four lanes of cars trying to get into sort of one lane. It was some kind of detour I guess because the road surface was a rutted, potholed, mess. The main freeway traffic was the other side of some crazily arranged barriers and busses kept diving OFF the freeway into our mess, but the barriers were arranged so you couldn’t get OUT. I nudged my way through cars and busses and trucks and whatever, managing to not damage the rental car or anyone else, although at times I know I scared my passengers. I had to just grit my teeth and push through.

      When we got through and were driving like normal again I realized that the previous mile had been just like driving in Mexico City all the time. How can they do it?

      Oh, and Steve – Colima is 7 hours from Mazatlan through Guadalajara and Tepic. I think it would be a lot longer by the coast route. If we get down your way we will look you up, though!

    1. Nancy

      Sounds like exactly what we got in to a couple of months ago on our way to Xalapa. I say on our way there because we didn’t have a problem on the return. The maps of Guadalajara show three major roads through from west to east. Going we took the middle one and hit exactly what you described; in the rush hour! Coming back we took the southern route and breezed through, also in the rush hour. And the southern route is a pretty drive. In the future we plan to take the southern route coming and going.

      Getting past Mexico City was a whole ‘nother thing! We ended up navigating by the sun.

      Larry

    1. Parades are great unless of course you need to get across town and the parade is blocking your access.

    1. If you have a chance – stop in Tequila next time – we had a great visit there!

    1. We love Colima as well. And we pick up Sal everytime we find it on the side of the road. We have yet to drive in Guadalajara, but its on the list. I am reading your entire blog from start to finish. Keith and I are from Alaska, but currently living in Arizona. We will be moving to Mexico with the next 3 years, so your information is most interesting and helpful. We had not really considered MZT before I started ready your Blog, but we will give it a closer look. It is very attractive that we can fly from MZT to SEA using our TONS of AK Airlines miles. I grew up in Grand Coulee Dam, my parents live in Sequim during the summer and with us during the winter. They will be spending at month in Lo de Marcos next winter just to get a feel for Mexico.

    1. Thanks so much for reading the blog! It is so fun to figure it all out and figure out where you want to start out. We love Maz for its rough around the edges gritty feel but it wouldn’t be for everyone. Alaska airlines was a deciding factor for family, too.

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