A nice start to the day at Lower Mazinaw Lake, Ontario, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The saga continues...

If you haven't read part one of our travel day to Cuernavaca, you might want to check that out first...


So, when we left you off there, it was about 4:00pm on Tuesday. I had just returned with Jim to the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park where the rest of the group had been waiting. They had been there for maybe two hours or so.

Time was now of the essence. It was already after 4:00pm and it gets dark around 6:30pm. We didn't have that far to drive, but we refuse to drive at night. So our choice was to either stay at the National Park overnight, or to make our way down to and through the city of Cuernavaca at rush hour.

I made the decision to head to the El Paraiso campground south of the city.

While I had been gone with Jim looking after Garth's rig, Ruth took some photos of the park...

I would have been quite happy staying at the park for the night. I had talked to the police and National Guard and they thought we would have been fine. After all, they are stationed right near the entrance. However, with Garth already on his way to a mechanic shop in Cuernavaca, it made sense for the group to carry on through Cuernavaca to the campground.

We had a short but very steep drive downhill into the city.

Narrow curvy road.

The road drops 4000' in 20 kms (12 miles)!

Then, we made it onto the freeway that bypasses downtown Cuernavaca. It was a pleasant surprise that it wasn't very busy!

Heading through Cuernavaca you get a good view of the Popocatépetl volcano in the distance.

A bit of traffic to deal with.

We made it to the El Paraiso Trailer Park at about 5:45pm. Ruth and I have never been here before, but they had a nice looking website, and the reviews on iOverlander sounded okay. However, the guy who runs the place is a bit of a nut. Turns out he's 85 years old. Not that that is a problem, but I wonder if he's not thinking straight. And, he had been drinking.

The problem is that he planted all these trees 40 years ago, and he refuses to trim them. So anything taller than 11' or so has a problem with tree branches and bushes. There are supposedly well over 150 sites here, but most of them are not useable....and I think its been many years since there have been that many rigs here.

It took us a long time to get parked up, and we were still maneuvering in the dark trying to get settled. The old guy was not at all helpful, and even though there was all this empty space he insisted that each rig be positioned in between the four trees that marked the space. Otherwise, you had to pay for two spaces!

Our tallest rig is Bob and Denise, and they didn't want to go into the area where the maneuvering was tough and I don't blame them. There were a couple of empty sites near the entrance that the old guy said were "double" lots. But I don't know in whose world they would be considered double... other than being a little longer, there was no way you would be fitting two rigs in the site.

The site where Sherman ended up.

And Bob and Denise's site. 
How is their site twice the price??

We will not ever return here, and we are probably going to cut our stay short.

Anyhow, we finally got parked up and I got in touch with Garth to see how he made out. Turns out, not very well! The tow truck driver had brought him to a small automotive electrical shop on a main street with no parking. He had been dropped off in front of another business, blocking off that business. It was far from ideal, but he was stuck there for the night. Nothing we could do at this point in time, so we had a late happy hour and called it a night.

The last part of our drive.

Woke up Wednesday morning, and got back in touch with poor Garth. Poor in more ways than one because the towing job had cost 7,000 pesos ($493 CAD, $373 USD).

He had the shop re-install the drive shaft and they overcharged him 1,200 pesos ($84 CAD, $64 USD) to do that. 

Then, they tried to diagnose the problem, but of course Garth couldn't replicate the problem. What a bad position to be in. And of course if he drives it and the problem resurfaces , then he's stuck with another tow bill.

Meanwhile, Bob and I hopped in an Uber to meet him where he was parked up. We arrived there at about 10:30am.

Before we arrived, he had fired up the engine, and it was showing no error codes at all. He idled it for 20 minutes, and then ran it at 2,500 RPM for 5 minutes.

No problems.

And, he had to get the rig moved from where it had been dropped off. As I said, it wasn't in a good spot and the tow truck driver had screwed up on that one.

We decided we had no choice but to try driving it. We pulled out onto the street and onto the freeway. We were heading north on the freeway, so we had to take a retorno (U turn) exit to get back headed south again. 

As we approached the exit, it died again, with a bunch of check engine lights flashing as well!

He managed to get it pulled over to the side, right at the exit and well off the main highway lanes.

Dead at the side of the road.

So now, we needed another tow truck, and we needed a mechanic who really knew what he was doing.

I called the Green Angels, but all they could do was to give me some phone numbers of local towing companies. I called them, but none of them had a tow truck big enough to do the job. I got on google and found another one, but I couldn't understand half of what the guy was telling me. Eventually, he took my phone number. I though he wanted to send me a text so that I could send him a photo of the rig, but I wasn't positive.

I walked down the exit where there were a couple of private security guards at a gated neighborhood. I explained the problem to the one guy and brought him back and showed him the rig so that he understood what we needed, then I was going to get him to call the towing place back. Just then, the towing place called me back and it was a guy who spoke English. He turned out to be the owner of the company. Said a truck would be there in 20 minutes and it would cost 2,500 pesos ($175 CAD, $134 USD).

Garth's funds were getting low, and there were no ATM's nearby. Bob, Garth, and I added up all our cash and we had 2,620 pesos between us! Just enough!

The truck arrived, and of course he had to go through the same procedures as the last guy to get it hooked up without damaging anything. But, he got the job done.

He towed us to a Pemex gas station where there were a lot of other tow trucks hanging around. But, he said there were a lot of mechanics in the area and he got on the phone to one of them. Sure enough, five minutes later Jose showed up with another guy and his son and his son's girlfriend.

Having happy our in Garth's rig!

They poked around for about two hours. They had a good quality computer code reader that gave them more information. Long story made short, he found the problem. There was a badly corroded cable near the starter and when the rig would go over a bump or move a certain way, the cable didn't supply power and something in the electrical system would go wonky. He was 100% confident that this was what was causing the problem. He talked us into going back on the main road, with us knowing full well that if this was not the problem, we would need another expensive tow truck!

We took it for a test drive. Everything seemed fine, in fact Garth said it even seemed more responsive.

The final bill from the mechanic was another 2,000 pesos ($140 CAD, 107 USD). Problem was of course, that between the three of us we only had 120 pesos! We explained the problem to the mechanic and he volunteered to drive me to a bank. 

I hopped in with him and a few minutes later, we pulled into a gas station. As we pulled in, I looked over at the next pump beside us, and I see a taxi with three gringos in it! Who was it, but Aron, Owenita, and Mona! What are the odds of that? In a city of a half a million people, we happen to pull into the same gas station at the same time? And even more coincidental, Aron had just been to the bank so lent me the money to pay the mechanic!

Back at the rig, we thanked Jose. If you ever need a mechanic in Cuernavaca, call Jose Noel Bautista at 777-274-3775. Specializes in computer diagnostic service and he makes house calls!

We drove with Garth in his rig over to the campground, problem free. Hopefully this is the last of the vehicle issues for a while!


And in Canada...


  1. We have also needed to tow our rig, only 3 miles and $700 Canadian, it is costly! I am glad to hear that Jose found the problem. lets hope all the bad news is behind you. Happy travels :)

    1. Ouch that is a lot of dough for such a short distance? Was this in Canada, USA or Mexico?

      We are hoping that our mechanical issues are all behind us too! :-)

  2. A very expensive 2 days for Garth but glad they sorted it. You can't win them all on great spots though. Hopefully you get to see some of the area without issues now

    1. Yes, he has actually had quite a few expensive days this year with his rig. I hope all the issues with his rig are behind us now.

      You are right we can't always win with great spots, not that this one is terribly bad it is just that the owner is very strict about how the units are parked and won't trim trees to make things easier for maneuvering rigs. You definitely don't want to come into this park with a big rig, thankfully we are all relatively short.

  3. So happy to hear that all is well! What an adventure!

    1. We are happy too and we will all feel better after we get a few more driving days under our belts without anymore mechanical issues. We are so happy that we have a flexible schedule and a pretty carefree group. :-)

  4. I feel so badly about what happened to Garth... and each of you who may have been affected. Hopefully, everything will go well. I will pray. Blessings, Lynn (Christian blog writer of Life with Lynnie)

    1. We all feel bad for Garth as well, nobody wants something like this happen to any of us. Hopefully everything is fixed up properly and we will be good to go. The next few driving days will be the test.

  5. Wow, that was a rough couple of days! I imagine Garth was glad not to be alone in navigating that tricky situation. Hopefully his vehicle troubles are all done now!

    1. Yes, it has been a rough couple of day, especially for Garth. Hopefully that is all behind us now and we can continue to enjoy a wonderful trip down here in Mexico. :-)

  6. Just the kind of thing we app dread having happen to us in Mexico. A friend has a small safe hidden away in his RV and keeps a minimum of $10,000 - $15,000 pesos in it when traveling in Mexico. Just in case. But in your case, this might have been a little short but a good start and then with others chipping in it would have worked.

    We have stayed at El Paraiso Park three times and the elderly owner was at the top of his game and was very helpful to us in getting the Honda repaired and painted. He is a retired electrical engineer who worked for several decades in the auto industry in Detroit. This was a few years ago so things have obviously changed a lot.

    1. Garth did have money at the day before but he had used that to pay the first tow truck driver and he just hadn't been near a bank the next day plus the fact that he was busy with the mechanic trying sort out his mechanical issue. When Kevin and Bob left the campground they also just didn't think to bring extra money at the time as we had money here. Anyways, it all worked out in the end.

      Kevin has since talked more with the owner and agrees that he is a nice enough guy but very eccentric! He will not budge a bit when it comes to the rules in the campground and the parking arrangements. He won't trim any trees, we aren't allowed to drive down on a little section that would have been perfect for us to get parked up properly. We are totally locked in, it is almost like being prisioners, we have to ring for him to come and open the gate when we are coming or going. He doesn't want anyone coming in after 8pm because it is a BIG inconvenience to him. We can only have a campfire on a Saturday night. He really doesn't make it very enjoyable to be here and because of that we are leaving a day early and we will not be back at this park. It is possible that if you are just one unit and the perfect size, you won't have any issues with the guy, as Kevin said it is a nice enough guy to talk to if it doesn't have anything to do with the campground. We aren't a high maintenance group here, we are all pretty easy going and very respectful but most people that have talked to him about something seem to come up against a brick wall. :-(

  7. Good for Garth to finally be problem free (fingers crossed). This also demonstrates the power of travelling in a group. It's this group effort that helps solve an issue like this. Great team work!

    1. Fingers crossed! Garth really needs a break, today's drive went problem free, so hopefully that is a good sign. :-)

      Yep, we all work together really well, someone is always giving someone else a hand.


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