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Saltillo, Mexico

I wanted to make a trip into Mexico by car so I would be familiar with the immigration, car permit, etc. routines that I will have to go through when I make the move to Manzanillo. I didn't want to be all frazzled going through it with a car stuffed to the headliner with all my stuff.

I didn't take any pictures of the border crossings, etc. since there's not much to see, plus these days they probably don't want to see someone taking pictures all around.

I fished all over the internet looking for a place to stay in Saltillo, and settled on a 150-year-old hacienda that has been turned into a hotel. It's called El Morrilo and here's a pic of the hacienda and the grounds.

I thought Saltillo was a mid-sized colonial village from what I had read about it, turns out it's a big sprawling city. Chrysler and General Motors both have giant factories there plus there's a huge cement plant on the north side of the city.

The first thing I did when I got there was get lost. I had three maps of the city, each one a little different than the other and none that seemed to match where I was. The streets in the city aren't marked very well, and where there are street signs they are often just posted on the side of the building. Plus they are small. Good for when you're walking around town and want to know what street you are on, you can just stand there and look at the sign from the sidewalk. Not so good when you're looking out of a dirty windshield with three maps in your lap.

What I did know was that my hotel was on the other side of town so I just drove all the way through the downtown area, narrow streets and one-ways that usually were going the wrong way. For me anyway. Somehow I popped out the other end, found my street and showed up right at El Morrillo.

Saltillo is south-west of Monterrey in the foothills of the Sierra Madre and at an elevation of about 5,000 feet above sea level. That means that in late March it gets pretty chilly at night. The good thing about staying at an old Hacienda is that it's really cool, as in hip. The bad thing is that it's really cool, as in chilly. The only heat in the rooms is from little gas space heaters on the walls. They warm up the room, but also eat up all the oxygen. The lady who owns the place told me to make sure I turned it off at bedtime, drawing her finger across her throat to make sure I understood why.

Fine, until about 3AM when I woke up freezing. I figured there surely was enough air leaking through the old windows and doors to help supply some oxygen so I turned the heater back on low. There was an extra blanket in the closet so I got warm enough to get back to sleep. Guess it worked -- I woke up in the morning and here I am.

The next morning on my way to breakfast I saw 30-40 green parrots coming in for a landing at the top of one of the trees. Even though they were high up in the treetops I could tell they were parrots by the shape of their bodies and their wings. Plus, they were screaming their heads off. They stayed in that tree for ten minutes or so, chasing each other from branch to branch, then took off for another tree. About every other bird had something in its beak with the other birds chasing and trying to take it away. Birds.

So, that day I ventured back into the center of town. Once I found a parking place and started walking around, it's a nice city. Here's some pics of a park.

One of the many statues around the park

The park grounds and one of the many walkways.

A little pool with benches around it. Everything is done in ceramic tile. I think the froggies are supposed to have water shooting out into the pool, but not today.

I took this picture of a park bench because I was struck by how ornate it is. These benches are everywhere in the park.

You can't tell it from the pictures, but the little graffiti artists are hard at work in Saltillo. In Manzanillo you never saw graffiti anywhere except some on the sides of railroad cars down by the port. In Saltillo it's everywhere. The little twerps tag everything that isn't moving.

I went to a couple of museums, interesting stuff but not all that great for picture-taking. Here's some of the town square with the guv'mint building, cathedral and the inside of some kind of police headquarters. This seemed to be where all the federal, state and local cops just hang out.

All through the park and around the town square were food carts selling tacos, burritos, chips, Cokes, and I'm not sure what some of the stuff was. I ate lunch and dinner off the sidewalk carts. Big burrito with sauteed onions, peppers, salsa and some kind of meat plus one of those old-fashioned Coke bottles that you have to return, all for two bucks.

Leaving early in the morning I got lost again, but all my maps seemed to show that the three main roads heading north all wound up on the highway to Monterrey. So, dodging one-way streets and making sure the sun was on the right side of the car so I was headed north I was on the road back.

Pretty nice city once I got into the heart of it, but there's just nothing like a Mexican beach town. The next time I see Saltillo I will be passing through on my way to Manzanillo.