The Mexigonia Weekly

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Travel Blog

You Put the Oil Where?

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After spending days trying to see all there is to see in Mexico City, Braden and Elizabeth decided it was impossible. They had to take a break from being tourists, and attend to Rocinante, who came to the capital for a well-deserved rest. First on the list were new filters for the veggie system.

La Senora Calvimontes, with whom Braden and Elizabeth were staying, accompanied the two to the auto parts store, or rather, neighborhood. They exited the taxi to find a whole street dedicated to automotive repair shops, one right after the next, each offering a slightly different service or atmosphere. They walked passed each storefront, toting the old filter to show rather than explain what they needed. La Senora helped with some automotive words with which Braden and Elizabeth were still unfamiliar, but were quickly learning. One store sent them to another, and that store didn’t have filters, or didn’t work on diesel engines. After much searching, and another taxi ride, the three would-be filter experts arrived at a tractor and truck repair shop. They walked up to the counter and saw rows and rows of filters that looked just like theirs!

They merely had to set down their old oily filter and the man behind the counter selected the same one from the shelf behind him. He measured its thread, washer size, height and width to ensure them it was the same. The three were

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 November 2009 21:50 Read more...
 

That’s Some Hot Agua

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“I hear there are some hot springs… somewhere,” Jenna told Braden and Elizabeth as they toured around Guadalajara.

“Ok, let’s go!” Braden replied.

“I’m sure we’ll find them,” Elizabeth added.

Jenna hails from the state of Oregon and is a fellow traveler who Braden and Elizabeth met in Guadalajara. Always up for an adventure, inspired by spontaneity, and looking for some wildlife outside the city, the three set off for el Bosque de la Primavera with little more than some simple directions and limited information from the website. The three piled into Rocinante and began to navigate their way through the busy overpasses and highways of Guadalajara. Rocinante was glad to be out of the city and to have another passenger!

“She told us to turn at some sort of military checkpoint,” Jenna told the drivers. They were getting used to the driving culture in Mexico: few signs to point you to your direction, speed bumps interrupting the highway, and the distracting beauty of the landscape passing by. Rocinante passed a small police station and they saw a tiny sign for “Bosque de la Primavera,” and turned left into a small town. It didn’t surprise them all that a huge national park would have its entrance hidden in a small town with dirt roads. They winded their way around town, occasionally asking for directions and bouncing over a few speed bumps that blended in with the rocky road.

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Mountains and Mufflers

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“Another tope!” Elizabeth said as she and Braden slowly summited another speed bump. Whether it’s a major highway with a speed limit of 100 km/hr (about 65 mph) or a small and narrow road through the middle of a town, speed bumps, or topes, are everywhere! They come in all shapes and sizes, some with warnings, and some as a surprise. Rocinante was having a lot of trouble with these topes and she scraped bottom every time, no matter how slowly the Mexigonians drove.

Elizabeth and Braden could not be frustrated by these topes because the scenery on the road from Monterrey to Guadalajara was the most beautiful sight either of the two had seen. Rocinante rolled up and down mountains at a peak speed of 35 mph due to the steep inclines and declines. Mountains lined the horizon and trees and cacti filled in the view with green. Separations in cliffs revealed lakes and waterfalls, and little towns passed intermittently.

“Do you hear that?” Braden asked as he stuck his head out of the window.

“Hear what?” Elizabeth replied.

“That rattling noise.”

“Umm…”

Last Updated on Monday, 02 November 2009 19:14 Read more...
 

Going Green, Even When We’re Not Supposed To

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The rain was pounding down on Rocinante’s metal roof, as Braden and Elizabeth began their journey at 5 am from Austin, Texas. As the rain subsided, and the two Mexigonians finished their last few errands before departing the States, they decided to test out their newly repaired veggie oil system. Tired from driving in the storm, and nervous about crossing the border, Rocinante calmed these weary travelers with the strong smell of veggie oil running through the car. Rocinante covered over 250 miles on grease alone throughout the day.

As they entered Eagle Pass, Texas, Braden and Elizabeth stopped at the Border Café to collect their thoughts and prepare for their cultural transition. With all the necessary paperwork in hand, the nervous globe-trotters headed across the international bridge passing over the beautiful Rio Grande. Elizabeth sat in the passenger seat, clutching her manila folder with all the important international travel documents.

“Passports, check.” Elizabeth had read up on all the necessary forms and permits necessary for taking one’s car across so many borders. She was prepared. Brady drove the Rabbit up to the window where they would officially cross the border. He rolled it down and he and Elizabeth looked up at the woman in the booth, awaiting questions and prompts for documentation.

“Two fifty,” she said. They looked at each other, looked at the bridge ahead, and paid the $2.50 toll. They drove over, and suddenly found themselves in Mexico, Elizabeth still clutching to her file folder. Being the responsible travelers they are, Braden and Elizabeth parked and walked into the customs building to inquire about their permits and visas. There they were reminded of the ‘border zone’ or ‘free trade zone’ that extends about 20 kilometers south of Mexico’s border with the US. Only after heading south of that point would they need to go through the process of obtaining visas and permits.

The drive to Monterrey was full of luscious scenery, complete with high mountain ranges, vast plains, winding roads and a string of varying sizes of towns and cities. Passing through the immigration offices was very stream-lined, and efficient. Mexigonia, however, was already running a little behind schedule as it continued to Monterrey.

Braden and Elizabeth picked out one last place to fill up on diesel before the final stretch to Monterrey, and they pulled into a busy Pemex gas station. As they situated the car in front of an empty pump, the attendant was ready to start pumping. Elizabeth had barely unlocked the fuel cap when the attendant had the nozzle in and asked how much to pump. Elizabeth looked at the nozzle to make sure that it was diesel, saw that it was green, and told him to start pumping. After paying for the fuel, Braden and Elizabeth started to pull out some veggie oil to fill up as well. Elizabeth pondered the merits of ‘going green’ with the veggie oil.

“Green!!” Elizabeth suddenly realized that diesel nozzles are green in the US, but Pemex diesel nozzles are black! She had just put about 3 gallons of gasoline into Rocinante’s diesel-only fuel tank. For the next hour and a half, 3 self-less Pemex employees, with a taste for diesel, helped Braden and Elizabeth siphon out the gas/diesel mixture from the tank. Braden also helped siphon while Elizabeth prayed that she didn’t kill the car just 200 miles into the Pan-American road-trip. After sucking out most of the fuel, Crecencio and his crew then ingeniously hooked up the air hose for filling tires to the siphoning hose and forced out the rest of the fuel with air pressure. With one last act of kindness, the Pemex crew pushed Rocinante over to the specifically indicated ‘Diesel’ pump, where Rocinante got a fresh tank of fuel. They fired her up and were on their way again, headed for Monterrey.

Due to the delays throughout the afternoon, Braden and Elizabeth arrived in Monterrey very late. During their first day on their Mexigonia trip, they met with pleasant and kind people, delicious food, breath-taking scenery, and a lovely language. They learned a lot that first day, and are ready to take on day two!

Nos gustaría ofertarles muchas gracias a los empleados en la estación de Pemex en Monclova, Mexico. Sin Ustedes, todavía estaríamos en Monclova, donde Elizabeth estaría llorando y Braden estaría bebiendo demasiado diesel. ¡Muchisimas gracias! Contactanos por This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 02:39
 

Rocinante on the Road

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Our trusty steed, Rocinante, hums contently on fast-pace interstate highways at her max speed of 65 mph despite the ongoing problems that we keep coming across. In New Jersey, Geoff Nosach primed Rocinante so she would be road-worthy. Among many improvements, he fixed her up with a new radiator, corrected timing, and new veggie oil system. Rocinante is running on a straight veggie oil conversion apparatus. Under the hood she hides the veggie oil tank and fuel lines so that we can switch from diesel to veg along the way. We acquire used grease from restaurants, filter it through our 600 thread count pillowcases, and feed it into the veggie tank.

After taking her home from Geoff's ranch, Rocinante was almost ready to go. Next on our list were an alignment and a back door lock repair. An alignment turned into a new tie rod and wheel bearings, which we had replaced with no problem thanks to the expertise of Billy at Foreign Car Werks in Bound Brook, New Jersey. Before departing the North, Elizabeth's brother Kevin helped the two travelers fix the Rabbit up with a few more small improvements, and good set of tools. Rocinante then trekked to Bainbridge, Georgia with no mechanical problems at all. In Bainbridge, Georgia, we had Tim West of Tim's Automotive install the radio, fix the spare tire, and take another overall look at the car. Thanks to Tim, we fixed a slow diesel leak in the fuel lines, improving our mileage, and saving us money! Fixing the back door lock revealed the need to fix all the locks on the car, and so we did, securing Rocinante further. Rocinante then embarked on a 900-mile straight shot from Bainbridge to San Antonio, Texas. She did so with grace and ease, getting about 40 - 45 miles per gallon, and Elizabeth and Braden were ever so proud. In Austin, Texas, we attempted to fix the veggie system, which had been acting up due to some clogged filters. Tomorrow will be a big test for the veg system, and we look forward to understanding and fixing the veggie oil fuel system so we can continue our trip in a greener, cleaner, and cheaper way.

With all the screws tightened, filters changed, and fluids replenished, we set off tomorrow to cross the border into Mexico and thus start our journey to Patagonia. We know that Rocinante will need lots of attention along the way, but we have no doubt that she is up to the challenge of meandering across two whole continents by the time our trip is done. Thanks to all the people who helped get Rocinante going, including those not specifically mentioned here.


 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 02:54
 
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