500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Another adventure in Mexico!

We woke up to fog yesterday morning and had wanted to get an early start. But we decided to wait it out, and so it was almost 9:30am by the time it burned off and turned into a beautiful blue sky.

We crawled our way out the three kilometers or so back to the main highway, and heading in our direction the road soon turned into a construction zone.

Fortunately it didn't last long, but the original road was in very poor condition and the construction zone we had just been through was only the beginning of their improvements.

Not much traffic though.

We were well under a quarter tank of gas, so the first Pemex station we saw, we pulled in. I asked if I could pay by credit card, and the guy said yes so I told him to fill 'er up.

When we first started coming to Mexico eight years ago, it used to be that you could only pay for gasoline with cash. It was very rare to find a station that accepted credit cards, usually only if you were right in a big city. But things have changed and now we only pay with credit card. But I always ask first, just to make sure their machine is working.

He started pumping the gas. 

Now, I know that from empty, Sherman's tank holds 228 litres (60 gallons) of fuel. I have a lot of experience filling him up from empty, and the most I have ever put in was 192 litres and that was when it was closer to the emty mark.

I expected this fill up to be around 190 litres. But it kept going and didn't click off until 220 litres! I know that there was not enough space in the tank for that much fuel.

The bill was 2,900 pesos ($237 CAD).

Their pumps (or at least that pump) are obviously not calibrated properly. I've heard stories of this happening, but never seen it in person, or at least not that I've ever noticed. Of course if you only put in 400 pesos worth you wouldn't even notice.

But I knew that with this large fillup, we got ripped off, likely by more than 200 pesos. And there's not a thing I can do about it.

But, the tank was definitely filled to the brim, so I went and paid (with the credit card) and off we went.

The far western end of the lake at Villa Victoria.

Going through a town. Chickens in the back of that truck.

This is what the road was like for part of the drive.

It was about 11:15am when we reached the outskirts of El Oro. Took about an hour and forty five minutes to do 53 kms (32 miles). Slow going, and lots of potholes!

I knew not to take Sherman into El Oro. Lots of tight streets, and not motorhome friendly. I saw a state police building and asked if I could park there for a couple of hours while we walked in to town. The cop outside said "no problem".

Sherman, parked up at the state police building outside El Oro.

El Oro (The Gold) used to be a mining town. Gold was discovered here around the year 1800, and it was a thriving place around the year 1910. But by 1958 the last gold mine closed and the population dwindled to 2,500 people. 

The town has turned to tourism, and now has a population of 5,800.

Looking towards the train station.

The original mine tower was refurbished in 2011. It covers a hole that goes down over 400 meters. The hole is now covered with glass and you can walk on it and look down!

Ruth, going up the stairs to the top.

You pay 10 pesos (82 cents CAD) and that gives you a pass to see the old mine tower, the theatre, the municipal building, and the train station.

They even have a spot level enough for a nice baseball diamond and stadium.

And the baseball field has it's own automatic grass cutting system!

The whole time we were in the town, I was scouting out overnight possibilities for Sherman. There was actually a great spot beside the baseball field, and I asked a local cop if we could park there, but he said that we would have to ask for permission at the municipal building. We were heading that way anyhow, so we walked into the central area.

An old train car, now a tourist restaurant. The tracks are long gone and no more trains come to El Oro.

The theatre.

And inside the theatre.

We found the municipal building, but because it was Saturday most offices were closed. No matter, because we had spotted a building overlooking the town that looked like it had a large parking lot. We figured we would wander up there and see if that was suitable.

Ruth, at the municipal building. The entrance has a beautiful mural depicting the history of the town.

The street outside the municipal building.

Lunch time! We found a nice little "comida casera". These are typically small restaurants, often done out of somebody's home. They usually have a small menu, and reasonable prices.

We lucked out with this one!

Rice, tortillas, and a jug of juice.

Big plate of enchiladas con mole. Four chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, lettuce, cheese, and onions. Delicious!

And a side of refried beans.

The lady was all smiles, and the food was great. We hadn't asked the prices prior to ordering, because we knew it would be reasonable. Ruth guessed the bill for the two of us would be 90 pesos, but I though that because we were in a tourist town, and the presentation was quite nice that would be 120 pesos for the two of us.

I went to pay, and the lady asked for 100 pesos ($8.20 CAD). Yep, $4.10 CAD each...what a great meal.

Panza llena, corazón contento!

A Mexican phrase, that says that when you have a full stomach you have a happy heart!

We walked up to the building overlooking town. Turns out that it's a university campus. We went inside to ask if we could park overnight in their lot. There were a couple of people in the office, and we were stumbling along in Spanish when the lady said something we didn't understand. I apologized for our bad Spanish when one of the guys says "we can do this in English if you like". Turns out we think he's the building's caretaker. Pretty funny when the University office staff can't speak English, but the caretaker can!

Anyhow, they had to ask the director, but they couldn't find him. In the meantime, he said that we were perfectly fine to overnight on the street outside if we liked. We were fine with that, and the view was spectacular.

The view from Sherman's side window.

Around 7:00pm, there was a knock at the door. It was the caretaker guy, saying that we were welcome to park in their lot, and that he would be closing the gate behind us and returning at 7:00am. He introduced us to the night security guard, and we moved into their spot.

Nice. Have we mentioned that we love Mexico?

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41 comments:

  1. Nice!!! Got a chuckle out of the "snoozer" on the baseball field!

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    1. Yeah, we thought that was funny, along with the sheep on the field! :-)

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  2. I got to ask, what is mole sauce? Moles here in the uk are little burrowing mammals that live underground.

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    1. Mole (pronounced mo - lay) sauce is a sauce made with chilies and chocolate along with some other ingredients. It isn't normally a real spicy sauce though.

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  3. You're getting us fired up even more for our trip in Feb.

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    1. So glad that we are getting you even more worked up for your trip. You will love it here, I am sure.

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  4. You just never know about those Caretakers. Some might have hidden talents.

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    1. We know of a least one that has many hidden talents! ;-)

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    2. Heh heh .. BillyBob... those Texas campus guys have hidden talents too! (same as those Wisconsin ones who jump ship and end up in a state park?

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    3. OK, so I guess there is more than one that we know with hidden talents!

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  5. The small towns especially the people are so friendly, gotta love it !

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    1. We find that most people here in Mexico are friendly whether it is a small town or a large one. :-)

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  6. You could try emailing your credit card provider and simply mention that you felt the gas pumps were miscalibrated. They might call Pemex, and Pemex might send someone out to investigate---or the CCP might just issue the credit right away. 200 pesos is a big error, it's two of those scrumptious meals for two! Remember, Billetera llena, corazón contento ;)

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    1. The credit card provider will do nothing about that, we are pretty sure. It is not like it would have anything to do with a product being broken or such. But what we can do is make a complaint with Pemex, like Chris had mentioned further down in the comments and even then I doubt anything will be done about it. We don't expect any money back but if we can help the next person from getting shorted then it is a step in the right direction. It is part of the price you pay when traveling in Mexico and considering this is the first time that we have noticed that it happened, I would say that is pretty good.

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  7. I love Mexico too. So many kind and helpful people.

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    1. Yep, one of the many reasons why we love it here too!

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  8. In Mexico there is a rather large brouhaha occurring around the issue of purposely miscalibrated pumps. The only way I've figured out to deal with it is to watch where the taxis are filling as they watch it very closely.

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    1. That is a good tip Kathe, thank you, we will try to remember that in the future when getting gas.

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  9. Looks like a beautiful town - you tend to make friends everywhere you go so it doesn't surprise me that the caretaker came and let you behind their fence.

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    1. I guess he managed to talk to the director after we left and got the OK or once the parking lot emptied out, figured that it was a Saturday night and the school won't be open the next day figured that it wouldn't effect anyone. We would have been totally fine on the street but it was just little more level there and possibly just a little quieter.

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  10. It's always "another adventure", isn't it? And so much fun!

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    1. Yes, it seems that most days in Mexico are an adventure, and we love that! :-)

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  11. I love the way you always try to communicate in Spanish. I'm sure it gets you much admiration and support from the locals. I don't know what a person could do about the miscalibrated pump. By the time you realize it, it's too late. I like Dugg's suggestion. It can't hurt.

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    1. We are in Mexico so that is the polite thing to do. We always make the effort and yes, we believe that they really appreciate it. Having said that many of the places we go, you would be hard pressed to find anyone that speaks English. We really wish our Spanish was even better but we keep working on it.

      I don't think there is anything that anyone can really do about the miscalibrated pump other than send a complaint to Pemex or to someone in the government. Whether anything would get done about it after that point will remain a mystery.

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  12. What a nice little town with friendly people. And lunch looked great!

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    1. It was a beautiful little town and is one of the special Pueblo Mágico which promotes a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a "magical" experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance.

      Lunch was delicious!

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  13. Great spot and as always Mexicans are very accommodating. As for the fill up, you can always file a complaint on line with Pemex and with PROFECO. I know you got a receipt for your gas. In fact, in the PROFECO website they have a click just for PEMEX complaints.

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    1. Thanks, Chris I think that is exactly what we will do. Not sure if it will make a difference but if you don't try then nothing will get done about it, at least this way there is a slim chance that something might get done.

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  14. Some group in Mexico went around with a calibrated container and ordered 10 litres of gas at each station. What they received was never over 10 litres, always under and usually 10% under. This was about what you discovered. Pemex' response was to direct their stations to refuse to pump gas into calibrated containers.

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    1. The gas station in Valle de Juarez was/is shorting people on their gas Barb had told us so we never ever used that station. I think we will try to use Kathe's recommendation, it sounds pretty solid, the taxis want to get the best value.

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  15. Oh well, you lose at the pumps, you made up for it at the restaurant....

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    1. Yes, you are totally right on that Andy! :-)

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  16. Hola amigos. Nos da gusto saber que su español que aprenden con paco y oty. Lo ponen en práctica. Y así nos tienen con ustedes como nosotros a ustedes. Hasta pronto

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    1. Tú y Oty nos has enseñado bien! :-)

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  17. Looks like you got the good with the bad, a gas rip off but a great lunch and overnight spot.

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    1. Yes, we did and we really have no ill feelings. Somethings you have to deal with those types of things here, it is all part of the adventure.

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  18. Sorry about the gas deal. Good about spending a night safe, free, locked in, and with a view. I guess you guys can find dump sites and potable water to fill the fresh water tank.

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    1. Yes, we always plan our time so that we can end up at a park with a dump station when we need it. Filling up with water isn't an issue, we can always find somewhere for that. When we know it is going to be a while before getting to a dump station then we use public washrooms as much as possible.

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  19. Lunch looked amazing! I am drooling....

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    1. It was delicious and now you have me drooling, just thinking about it!

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