Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Traveling in 2007 in the Alfa From Acapulco to Mexico City.

Here is an excerpt from Moving On 1 a trip we took to Acapulco in the 40 foot Alfa in the spring of 2007. We had a couple of adventures on that trip. Including a couple of encounters with the policia.

Leaving Acapulco was anticlimactic. After leaving the Pie de la Cuesta road we turned back up the highway (back the way we had come in) so we could catch 95D the autopista towards Mexico City and not have to drive through Acapulco. Before getting on the toll road we wound through some pretty countryside. Through small towns and over many bone shaking topes! Finally we were on the autopista but we were heading towards Acapulco again. Only for a few miles though as we soon came to a retorno - basically a place where you can make a “U-turn” onto the other side of the road - pointing the way to Mexico City. It was a very nice road, divided four-lane, very smooth with wide shoulders. Some very interesting bridges on it too. We went from sea level to mountains with no problems. From palm trees to pine trees. We passed a couple of areas where workmen were cementing the areas that were prone to falling rocks.  Stayed on the autopista to just before Cuernavaca. We drove about 195 miles and paid U$77 in tolls for this stretch. We figure the tolls run about 40¢ a mile, but they are well worth every penny.

The Camping in Mexico” book listed a campground in Cuernavaca, but we didn’t want anything to do with driving in the city. It also listed a campground in Atlacholoaya not too far off the highway. Also the AAA book listed another one in Chiconcuac. Reading about them they both sounded a little iffy for us. We decided that when we got off the highway we would unhook and use Willie to scope out the campgrounds. Well….we took the Tepetzingo ramp off of 95D. We came up the ramp to the road we needed to turn left on. (First hint of problems - the directions in the book were if you were driving north to south - we were going south to north.) The turn was more of a 45 degree angle than a left turn. And half way through we knew we couldn’t make it. Second hint - the bumper of the Alfa was touching the guard rail. By then we were blocking the off ramp and the road going both directions. Luckily, as it turned out a motorcycle policeman was coming up the road towards us. He pulled up next to Bill’s window and motioned for us to get moving. Bill got out and explained that we couldn’t go forward and he would have to unhook the jeep to back up and make the turn. The policeman stopped the traffic so Bill could safely unhook the jeep. Once Bill had the motorhome turned he kept the traffic stopped so we could continue up the highway to a place where we could pull over and hook up. When we both got off the highway and the traffic had all gone around us the policeman turned his bike, waved and continued about his business! From there we drove a short way up the road to a HydroGas station where we could get the Alfa off the road and go look for the campground. Off we went - found the campground - no way did we want to try to get into it. The last ½ mile was a very rutty dirt road with low hanging trees all the way. The trees would have scraped the heck out of the roof. So now what? So we decided to check out the one listed in the AAA book. We never found it, even with directions. Well back to the motorhome where Bill again talked to the attendant, it was okay to spend the night there for $100 pesos. No one would bother us as he was the night guard.

After setting up we took a ride back into Chiconcuac while looking for the campground. Saw a nice restaurant and stopped for lunch. Very pretty place. Then we rode around some. It was a very interesting town, very old. Lots of walls and houses built of stone. And there was a big stone aqueduct running through part of the town. Then we went into Cuernavaca to check out the route of the autopista and for a quick look around. Some pretty impressive houses there. And lots of very narrow streets with lots of traffic. I’m glad the autopista goes around the town. When we returned to the motorhome the attendant told us we should visit Xochitepec, a little town the other side of the autopista. The town has been around since before the Spanish came. It was worth the visit. More stone and mud walls. Interesting old buildings and a great plaza with a dark green wrought iron gazebo. Families were out enjoying the evening. Young men were playing soccer in one area and little girls were giggling in another. The cotton candy man was selling his pink cotton candy as fast as he could make it. On one side was the yellow and brown arched government building - police men relaxing out front. Across the plaza were little stores, Bill bought himself some bread, and the ever present Internet Cafe. One building caught my eye - the bottom three feet were painted a vivid blue, the rest a salmon color. Just above the blue on the salmon section a design was painted in blue. It continued across the building going up and around the black metal doors and windows. Charming. Leaving we shared the road with bicycles, a truck selling bottled water and a man on a horse.

We had kind of a restless night, unhappily the gas station is right on a busy highway leading to a cement plant that is open 24 hours! So we were up at 4:30 bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go as soon as it got light - it doesn’t get light here until after 7!
Back on the autopista towards Mexico City. Again the road was beautiful and easy to drive. From Cuernavaca the road crosses over a mountain range and we climbed to 3100 meters - I looked it up 3.28 feet per meter - over 10,168 feet. The Alfa drove like a charm, but used ¼ tank of gas! Part of the drive was through wonderful pine forests - quite a difference from the beach scenery we were used to. Also it COOLED off and the humidity went from 59% to 28%.

Unfortunately there is no way to completely avoid driving in Mexico City. We had to go through the outskirts. We took the Periférico around the city, if you do this be sure to watch for the signs that say “Buses and cargo trucks have to use the frontage road.” I just mentioned that we were the biggest vehicle on the road when along side us came a motorcycle cop. He motioned us off the autopista onto the lateral. Then he stopped traffic so we could pull over to the curb. Bill got out to talk to them. They were both very professional looking and acting. They told us the reason for staying off the autopista - we weigh too much for the pavement in that
particular stretch of road. The frontage road would run right along the Periférico all the way until we could get back on it. After conferring by phone with their commander they smiled, shook our hands and wished us a safe trip. They got back on their bikes held up traffic so we could pull back onto the road and drove away. No talk of tickets or bribes. So far we have had very pleasant experiences with the police and soldiers in Mexico.
No more problems - again the road was great. In 1978 it was on this stretch of the old road, going south, that we dropped the wheel off the shoulder and almost killed ourselves. This time the road was beautiful - smooth and fast.
Click Here for some pictures of this area. 

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