First Winter Away - 2005 travel blog

German sign

Chihuahua Cathedral


picturesque bench

pigeon square

Although sleeping in a gas station campground was not what we had expected on this tour, we all collapsed in exhaustion last night and it didn't much matter where we were. Feeling much restored we boarded a luxurious motor coach for a morning tour of Chihuahua. With the exception of a magnificently restored private home that reminded us of Versailles on a smaller scale, the other sites (main cathedral, government center, aquaduct, Pancho Villa's home) were more modest. This is not to say that we were not impressed by Chihuahua. It is easy to imagine ourselves living in this city of 1,000,000 people. The roads are wide and well marked and even the poorer homes are well maintained. Our guide told us that Chihuahua had the lowest crime rate in central and South America. There was a nice mix of stores and restaurants whose names we recognized from home, and local spots that would be fun to try.

While he was enthusastic about his city, Eduardo gave Pancho Villa, the George Washington of Mexico, mixed reviews. He lead a Robin Hood life, robbing from the rich and sharing with the poor. He also shared his gene pool with 25 diferent women, fathering at least 25 children. When he traveled, he took a priest with him to perform offical marriages with his amorous conquests. When he Robin Hooded into the United States, he drew the attention of our government and found himself pinched between the US and Mexican armies. Ultimately he was ambushed in his car which is fondly preserved in his courtyard, full of bullet holes.

Perhaps we are being punished for watching Chicago weather forecasts on WGN and laughing. We had a high of 39 with a forecast low of 26 tonight and thick overcast. Eduardo told us everything we needed to know while we sat on the bus, so we could race through the tour sites without shivering at length.

We had a short afternoon drive of about 60 miles through what may have been some nice scenery if only the clouds were not so low. At one point we lost sight of the trailers ahead of us altogether in the thick fog. Snow flakes added to our joy.

Tonight we are camped in a Mennonite campground with the last potable water we will encounter on this trip. We are looking forward to a meal cooked by these hard working people. We had heard that they speak German, but found this hard to believe since they fled here from Canada most recently and various European countries many years before that. But when Ken's inverter (don't ask) broke and we drove to the hardware store to replace it, the conversation began in German. I was thrilled to have a chance to use my Deutsch in such an unlikely spot. The photo proves the point. Even if you don't recognize German, the line with the two dots over the u is definitely not Spanish.

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