The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 5, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Twice.

We knew that we could park overnight at the Botanical Garden near San Miguel de Allende, so that's the direction that we were headed. But instead of taking the busy highway between Queretaro and San Miguel, we decided to take the back roads and perhaps we would come across another overnight spot along the way.

I checked out the road on Google Streetview, and the paved section looked quite nice...but there was a 7 km (4 mile) stretch of unpaved road. That particular section doesn't even show up in our Guia Roji Mexico Map Book, but it is there on Google maps.

So, how bad could it be, right?

Well it turns out that it was pretty bad!

The paved section leading up to it was in good shape, and with no traffic at all. 

Once the pavement ended, it was like this. 

For a while. Then it got worse. Washboard really bad, lots of potholes and rocks. But hey, it was only 7 kms (4 miles) right? And even though we were just crawling along, we were enjoying the scenery and the distance closed fairly quickly.

Not that bad. Nothing Sherman couldn't handle!

Hmm. This was a rough section.

Soon, we came over a ridge and we could see the village of Jalpa down below.

The road at this downhill section was cobblestone. And only wide enough for one vehicle in most sections. The ocassional person that we passed sure did stare at us. Definitely the first RV they've ever seen on this road. They were probably thinking "Man, those gringos are totally lost!".

Near the bottom, we came to a gulley. There had been a little pickup truck in front of us, and we had watched as he slowly made his way across. It was really rough, and I thought Sherman's back end might drag.

We made it across. I stopped and got out and took some photos.

Definitely a rough section! Good boy Sherman! The things we put you through...

So now we're almost at the town of Jalpa, and that's where the paved road starts again. The worst has to be over, right?

Well maybe not. We came to a rickety old concrete bridge. Just barely wide enough for a car, let alone Sherman. And the concrete was crumbling in places. Guaranteed there has been no engineer who ever tested the weight limits of this structure!

But there was no turning back now. And nowhere to turn around even if we wanted to. I have to admit, I was a little nervous going across this bridge!

Ruth took a video for you...turn your volume up...


Did you notice how I sped up as soon as we were on the bridge? Not sure that would have helped if the thing had collapsed, but it made me feel better!

Almost there. Only came  to one more rough section, and then we were in the  village.

The last rough section.

Coming into the village of Jalpa.

This little village has a huge old church. The town is only about 500 people, and there is no cell service. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, and yet only 15 miles from San Miguel de Allende or maybe 25 miles from the big city of Queretaro. There's not much of anything really! Just a sleepy little village with a fascinating church that we can't find any information about.

It's located on a little dammed lake and we were hoping to find somewhere to overnight. But other than the church and some ruins, there wasn't much else to offer.

The front of the old church.

Unfortunately, it was locked up which is very strange. Most churches are open during the daytime.

On the far side of the church are some ruins.

Nothing to explain anything about them. Strange.

And why does a little village of 500 people have a church this huge? 

It's a mystery. I can't find anything online that describes the history of the church or ruins.

From there, we decided to carry on to the Botanical Gardens in San Miguel de Allende. We've stayed here with Sherman before and we know it's a nice quiet free spot to overnight. It was only another 20 kms (13 miles) or so, and on a paved road. We're sure we heard Sherman heave a sigh of relief!

Sherman, happily parked up outside the botanical garden.

Lot of space, even though they've built themselves a parking lot since the last time we were here.

Now, you see all that dried grass on the right beside where Sherman is parked?

Very dry grass.

We spent rest of the afternoon inside the motorhome just relaxing. It was a nice sunny day and we had the windows open. At one point, I heard a funny noise...sounded like the crackling of fire.

I opened the door, and this is what I saw...

Yikes! The flames were eight feet high.

We watched it for 30 seconds or so. There was a bit of a breeze and the flames were moving quickly. It didn't take long before we decided that we had better move quickly as well! Wow...I was a little nervous that Sherman had been parked right next to the dry grass. Even with the motorhome moved to the other side of the street, the heat was unreal.

This photo was taken exactly six minutes later! Sherman had been parked over there!

We were located right at a corner, and because of the direction of the wind the fire had nowhere to go. So 15 minutes later it had pretty much died out. By that time, a couple of young guys carrying water packs had arrived and were dousing the leftover hot spots.

We waited a couple of hours and then moved back to where we were.

This is the exact same spot we had been parked. You can see how much is burnt.

Can't imagine what would have happened had we not been there. Poor Sherman might not be around any more, and if he was there would certainly have been some damage. Scary stuff.

Yesterday's drive. Trust me, it took longer than 57 minutes!

So, we had an exciting day. How was your day?

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And for our Canadian readers...


Ruth has one of these...it works great! This is a very cheap price.


56 comments:

  1. Wow! What a day full of adventure!

    I followed a link to your blog while you were in Colombia, and have really enjoyed following along. :)

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    1. Yep it was full of adventure and not one that we want to have to do again anytime soon, especially the fire part!

      So glad that you are following along and enjoying our travels.

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  2. Wow! What an adventure. Apologies if you answered this before but what mapping program are you using? Thanks.

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    1. Yep, it was an adventure and a half!

      Kevin generally uses Google maps and Maps.me app on the iPhone and our Garmin GPS but we never let the GPS lead the way, Kevin always inputs GPS coordinates for way points all along our route once he has figured out our route with Google maps, also looking at Google street view for conditions of the road and visuals for our turns whenever possible.

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  3. Have been following/reading your posts and am impressed with your adventurous spirit. Glad to see you include the 'not so good' days with the, much more frequent, great days. Thank you! Pictures really tell/show the reality of the challenges Sherman steps up to.

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    1. Thank you Patrick, we always tell it like it is, even when we may be in the wrong or sometimes do silly things. ;-)

      Yes, we do have many more good days than bad thankfully. Sherman really does do a tremendous job and kudos to Kevin for his great driving skills.

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  4. A "little" nervous???? I'd be a mess for a couple of weeks after your kind of day.

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    1. Other than the 4 miles of dirt road which for the most part wasn't great but nothing that Sherman couldn't handle the bridge really was the worst part. I wasn't worried about the bridge holding up to our weight, I was pretty confident that it would but I was nervous about the narrowness of it, luckily Kevin has really good perception for that kind of thing. The approach to the bridge didn't help either as it was rough and on a slight curve. I think if it had been anyone else driving I might have gotten out and walked across.

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  5. Very exciting bridge crossing! And look on the bright side, that was the smoothest 40 feet of road in over four miles... Secret note to Ruth: next time, stand OUTSIDE Sherman to shoot the video, haha

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    1. Lol, yep it was, except for getting onto and off of the bridge!

      If, I stood outside to film the footage, it wouldn't have given the same impact, besides I was 99% sure that the bridge would hold Sherman, if I wasn't then yes, I would have been outside standing on firm ground.

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  6. Good grief! Two scary moments in one day! Lucky outcome, wow.

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    1. Too be honest I was more scared about the fire and what would have happened had we not been in Sherman at the time.

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  7. What an adventure. That bridge looked as good as the one in Scotland…….3 children and a mini bus, what a fun time.

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    1. LOl, we said the same thing after we had crossed it! :-) I think the bridge in Scotland was longer and even more rickety looking. I was pretty confident this one would support Sherman, that's why I stayed in him this time!

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  8. Wow that's scary stuff. Especially being in an area with little resources. Safe travels

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    1. I have to admit, that crossed my mind a couple of times. The locals use that road so I am sure that someone would have been along to help us out if there had been any kind of problem. Mexicans are very helpful when you have any kind of vehicle problems. We have never had to experience this ourselves but we have heard many a story from others that have had assistance from the locals.

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  9. Kudos to Ruth for not freaking out. Might have come close, but kept it well hidden. In a situation like that, I'm pretty sure (no, I'm quite sure) I'd be 'by myself'.
    End of story.

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    1. Thanks Bob, I was a little nervous for sure but it was more because the bridge seemed so narrow not because of it not holding up to Sherman's weight, I was pretty confident that it would, otherwise yes, I would have been outside for sure.

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  10. There's exciting and then there's that... great blog post but - The bridge would have done me in never mind the fire. For once, I'm kind of appreciating the quiet winter day I had.

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    1. Yep, two scary sort of things in one day is a little much, we won't deny that. As I mentioned in the comments above, I was pretty confident the bridge would hold us but it just seemed so narrow to me, Kevin has good perspective for distance so that didn't worry him, the approach to the bridge didn't make it easy though. As for the fire were knew we were OK there but we were more worried about what could have happened had we gone for a walk and not have been in the motorhome when it happened.

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  11. Loco Gringo! LOL. Close call with the fire, you just never know. BTW, how old are your tires? You are aware of the 'Five Year Rule', right? ;)

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    1. Yep, that would be us! There is nothing that we could have done about the fire but we sure are glad that we decided to relax in Sherman for the afternoon rather than go out for a walk/hike like we might normally have done.

      You know Kevin and how careful he is about things like our tires or any other maintenance on Sherman! They are getting there and will probably be replaced in the summer but they are still in great shape, he checks on them often.

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  12. Always some excitement here and there but y'all good now.

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    1. Yes, there is but this was a little more excitement than we had bargained on.

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  13. Never a dull moment! I was holding my breath on that bridge. So glad you made it over fine and was there to move Sherman when you saw the fire. Yikes!

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    1. We were a nervous crossing the bridge too but I think deep down we both knew we would make it no problem. I am very happy that Kevin is such a good driver.

      We were so happy that we were in Sherman when that fire started, we hate to think what MIGHT have happened to him otherwise.

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  14. That is actually a lot more excitement than I am ready for. Glad all worked out ok for you. Guess I am getting really old, I really want adventure, but not like that!

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    1. We are happy it all worked out as well and even we could have done without that much excitement too!

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  15. Even Lindsey agrees that you take too many chances!!

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    1. I think this was the only time that we really took a bit of a chance and even then if we had any real doubts about that bridge we would have found a way to turn around and head back out the way we came.

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  16. If you are interested on Sunday morning a group meets at the Pemex next to Cinco de Mayo and they go hiking a great group ask for Pierre he takes a separate group on a longer higher hike..fun people and great hikes cheers les

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    1. Thanks Les, we may just do that! We usually like going on hikes by ourselves rather than in a group but sometimes it is nice to switch things up.

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  17. nothing like packing the whole day with blood pressure rising events...at the bridge I would have gotten out walked across and hid my head while san drove across...I dont fluster easily but that would have done it. Good thing neither of you had a headache on that rough road....glad you moved in time grass fires spread so quickly

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    1. Ah, we always like to add some excitement to our days! ;-)

      If I had though that we wouldn't have been able to make it over that bridge I may have down the exact same thing as you Donna but I was pretty confident that we could do it.

      We were so surprised how fast that fire spread! I am glad that we were in the motorhome at the time so that we were about to move it.

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  18. Nothing to imagine because you were there so nothing bad happened. What if though? :) You're in a nice spot and it's very quiet at night. Enjoy!

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    1. Nope nothing happened and if something did, I am sure one of the locals would have come along and helped us out. We were pretty sure that the bridge would have supported us, otherwise we wouldn't have crossed it.

      Yes, it was a wonderful a quite there at night.

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  19. At least you were going to "go down" together. As stated above, I think I would have shot the video from outside...LOL That road is exactly what would scare me about traveling the back roads of Mexico. I don't think towing a 5th wheel would have worked.

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    1. I am nervous about bridge crossings and if I thought that we wouldn't have made it across, you can bet I would have spoken up or gotten out and watched from the sidelines but we were pretty confident that it was safe enough. We like traveling the back roads here, they are so much more interesting.

      No this road would not have been suitable for a 5th wheel and after traveling it we wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they had a smaller vehicle and we confident driving over some bumpy terrain and a narrow bridge.

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  20. What an adventure. My Peace Corps assignment is working with the Mexican Forest Fire fighting agency. Wonder if your little fire made it into the maps and archives? Glad all is well and you have more stories to tell on your travels.

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    1. That is pretty cool that you are working along with the Mexican Forest Fire agency. I really doubt that this would have made it into the maps or archives, it really was a tiny fire. Yes, another story to tell but one we could have done without.

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  21. Your day was certainly more exciting than ours....and I'm glad!

    That is scary thinking Sherman could have been burned if you had been away at the time.

    Love the old church. I hope you find some info on it. It looks pretty old.

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    1. Yes, that was the scariest part, knowing what might have happened to Sherman had we not been with him when that fire started.

      That old church was fantastic, I wish we could have seen what it was like inside. We will have to try looking again to see if we can find info on it.

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  22. Ahh memories of washed out bridges and bad roads over the years. Mexico is an adventure.

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    1. Yes, Mexico is always an adventure and one that we really love!

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  23. Lucky that you guys did not go for a walk and leave Sherman.

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    1. Yes, it was very lucky that we didn't!

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  24. You just keep taking the back roads! That is a great way to get yourselves shot!

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  25. OMG! So glad you were not hiking when that fire broke out. We bicycled right through similar wildfires on Ambergris Caye, Belize, and it was really freaky and HOT. No one even seemed to be around doing anything about them; I guess they just burn themselves out when they hit a sandy area or dirt road (like the one we were bicycling on). Glad you're okay!

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    1. We were so happy that we weren't out hiking too! The thoughts that have gone through our minds thinking about what could have happen if we weren't there are scary.

      Yep, that is exactly what this one did, just burned itself out.

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  26. Wow, that was a good exciting day. Congrats on your home not charred, good reminder to self about parking unattended next to tinder as we get into dry south ....

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    1. We were more worried about what would have happened had we not been in the motorhome at the time of the fire, than we were about crossing that bridge.

      Yes, it really makes you think twice about leaving the motorhome unattended in a dry area when something like this has happened to you. This will now always be on our minds when we park up somewhere.

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