We’ve been here now for four days and the vastness of this place still astounds us, though our opinion is changing as we become a little more familiar. They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in this case it’s rather been the opposite.
On arrival we “nipped” down town once we had set up at the camp site, this has become usual practice as it then gives us chance for a recky and is particularly useful when we have only a few days in one place. Getting there wasn’t particularly difficult except that of course it was 4.30 – 5 pm. Not the best time to be heading into the madness of predominantly Mexican driving! The thing that unnerved us most though, was the reception Malc got when trying to get some change for the parking meter. Here he was, clean, respectable, obviously not suspect, politely asking for change. He was met with an almost total blanking… no one wanted to know, much less engage in any kind of conversation, even though he had picked individuals who looked “normal”. He did eventually get a couple of quarters from a shop but still without any conversation. This was so different from the reception that we’ve received virtually everywhere we’ve been. As we took a walk around the centre we felt as if we were in a foreign country…shop signs, spoken language, the radio/cd’s that were blasting from the shops were all in Spanish and the people were Mexican. We were still on the American side of the border and although the Mexican side is only about a mile away it almost seems that there is no border at all. Much of the city we drove through was a ramshackle muddle of mostly adobe buildings, homes and workshops, warehouses and car repairers. Dry, dusty and for the most part strewn with rubbish, the downtown streets soon emptied of traffic. That now clogged the roads leading out of the city.
We have also driven up into the mountains, here the tightly packed grid stretched out neatly before us, cleverly hiding its dishevelment. If the map is anything to go by the Mexican side is even more tightly packed. We passed through much more pleasant suburbs and even spotted the odd neatly kept garden, cacti of course! Everyone had said “You must go to the zoo” so we did. Given that these establishments leave a lot to be desired we found most of the animals looked well fed if somewhat lacking in their environment. The sea lions, some of the largest I’ve ever seen, delighted in diving below the surface and “playing’ with the spectators who could view below the water line. The orang-utans could have done with a visit from Vidal Sassoon but obviously knew this as they hid under their sacks. It did give Malc the opportunity to take some brill shots as you can see. We found some far less fortunate animals at a shop on the way home…they’d become chairs! Quite bizarre really.
PS. Aren’t you impressed with the song theme still going?