This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We Made it to Palenque

Nututan Hotel Parking Lot
Feb 7

I know that I said not to expect a post today, as I would be too tired after the long drive.  Well, the drive wasn’t so bad and I’m not very tired.  So here goes.

We left Chetamul this morning at 6:30, not 5:30 as I mentioned yesterday.  Barry and Pat were in the lead, Carol Ann and I in the middle, and Bob and Gloria bringing up the rear.  Later we would catch up with Michel and Ellen.  Bob and Billie also left before the main group but we didn’t see them until they pulled into the designated Pemex in Palenque a few minutes after we did.

The road (Hwy 186) was great for most of the drive but it went to hell about an hour from Palenque.  There were potholes, torn up pavement, and construction – sometimes all three together.  I believe there were three military and one agriculture checkpoints along the way but we were waved through all of them.  Except for the last part of the trip on the road from hell, the drive was uneventful and rather boring.

We arrived at the Pemex station a little before 3:00PM, where we were to wait for the remainder of the caravan.  We had traveled 308 miles in almost eight and a half hours.  That was an average speed of approximately 37 mph, even though we drove 60 and 65 mph much of the way.  As I have mentioned, what makes the trips so much longer than they would be in the States is all of the damn topes in every little town along the way.  You have to slow these motorhomes down to a crawl and ease over them to avoid breaking something.  It may take anywhere from a couple of minutes up to fifteen or more minutes just to get through some of these little towns.

Carol Ann and I fueled up while at the Pemex. Our Visa has been declined every time we have filled up because Visa's "security computer" thinks the charge is too much for a gas station even though we keep phoning and telling them we have a 90-gallon fuel tank!  This time I called them while the station attendant was filling our tank and had them wait on the line until our card was swiped.  It was declined, just as I had expected. I asked the Visa security guy to do his thing so the computer would accept the charge.  We waited a minute or two and he said the charge did not come through on his end.  Now you have to picture me, who speaks no Spanish, trying to explain to three attendants, who speak no English, that I had Visa on the line and they should try swiping the card again.  They may or may not have understood but they did finally re-swipe the card.  I waited again.  The Visa guy said that the second attempt did not show up on the computer either and there was nothing he could do.   The charge was $1,927 pesos, I had no more than $1,500 pesos on me, and there was no ATM at this Pemex.

I saw Michel a couple of pumps over filling his pickup (he and Ellen pull an Airstream) and asked if he had enough cash to help me out of a jam with a loan.  He paid for his fuel WITH HIS VISA CARD and then came over and PAID FOR MY FUEL WITH HIS VISA CARD!  The problem appears not to be with Visa itself, but with the institution through which the card is issued.  One of the first things to do after getting home is to get a card through some other institution.

Anyway, the Pemex was becoming very crowded and there was no way that all 18 RVs were going to park and un-hitch their toads in this station so our little group drove on to the hotel and parked on the shoulder of the highway (I use the term loosely) in front of the hotel.  I decided to call Butch and Cathy, our Wagon Masters, and let them know where we were so they would not be waiting for us at the Pemex.  However, we had parked next to what must have been an open-air Mexican “juke joint”.  It had a live band with huge speakers that were pointed in our direction and blasting out a steady beat, making it impossible to speak on the phone. We had to walk over to the hotel and make the call. I phoned Butch and told him how crowded the Pemex was and where we were. Then we sat out on the hotel restaurant’s deck.  He told us to go on with our RVs into the hotel’s parking lot so that some of the other RV’s could come down and park where we had parked across the street from the hotel. 

Once we got our rigs parked we went back to the restaurant and had drinks on the deck over the river.  The rest of the group finally arrived around 5:30 PM and the last RV wasn’t parked until about 6:30 PM.  This is a very small parking area and we are jammed in like sardines.  I put my slides out as soon as I parked to make sure I would be able to do so.  Since I was one of the first to park, I am boxed in on all sides so probably won’t be leaving early when we head out for Villahermosa after two nights here.

After everyone arrived we heard the bad news report for the day.  Our black cloud had again settled over Richard and Helen.  At noon today they ran over a bolt and punctured a tire.  Bob (of Bob and Ellen, not Bob and Bettie or Bob and Gloria) changed the tire for Richard because he is “good with tools.”  Fate then dumped on Richard and Helen a second time when they took a wrong turn near the end of the trip and a low tree limb did a job on their rooftop refrigerator vent.

Not to be outdone, Bob and Gloria had a "little sewage problem." Their toilet apparently backed-up or stopped-up, anyhow, it spilled out on the floor and Gloria dropped her swimsuit in the “stuff”.  She has washed it three times so far.

On the way to Palenque we met another RV caravan going towards Chetamul.  After we parked here we discovered that two of their group were still here.  It seems their caravan may also have a black cloud following it.  The two RVs are waiting for one of their caravan members to be released from the hospital after undergoing surgery for a broken arm!

Mosquitos have not been a problem on this trip.  It’s the ants.  They are everywhere.  Most of us have had problems with them getting inside of our RV’s.  This morning I opened a drawer for a T-shirt and was really ticked off when I found what seemed like a million teeny-tiny ants in the drawer.  I checked the other drawers and found ants in three more.  Luckily, I had a can of insect spray.  I'll just have to keep it handy.

After we had parked this afternoon, I reached out from the steps to the motorhome door and snapped off the end of a small tree limb that was brushing against the door.  When the limb snapped a zillion or more tiny ants me on the head, in my face, and on my chest.  I was cussing, jumping, and swatting at myself.  At Carol Ann’s suggestion, I ran and jumped into the shower, fully clothed and managed to wash them off of me and my clothes.

Tomorrow we tour the Mayan ruins of Palenque.  I hope we have a better day.


Anonymous said...

I've finally quit laughing long enough to say "Thank you" for keeping us so entertained. I haven't read your other post yet but I'm wondering what it has to say. Keep smiling!!!! Steve & Gerry

Robert & Carol Ann Martin said...

Thanks for the comment. You guys should be with us. Nothing but laughs!