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Journal - 04-Mar-2001, Sunday, Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico
(Trip: Baja California, Whale Watching, Copper Canyon.)

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Click for larger image! Chihuahua Cathedral<br> . Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chihuahua,cathedral,francisco villa,pancho villa
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Click for larger image! The baroque Casa Quinta Gamero. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,chihuahua,cathedral,francisco villa,pancho villa
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Chihuahua Cathedral
 
The baroque Casa Quinta Gamero
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After treating myself to what seems like a huge lie-in, I take a look at the clock: Still before 8. Great. Monica is still asleep at my side, a sweater covering her eyes.

The moment of truth approaches - I start setting up my gear to download yesterday's photos from the defunct Digital Wallet. Shaking the unit, there is a distinct rattling sound that I'm sure shouldn't be there. On power up the same error message and strange hard disk sounds. Not good. The laptop gives an error when trying to access the drive. All to be expected but not what I wanted.

I try again to access the drive. Miracles of miracles, the directory listing of the drive appears. I immediately start to download the photos to laptop. Holding my breath I watch as the first couple of photos seem to transfer successfully. This is to good to be true. Everything is laid out on the bed and so I daren't move for fear of upsetting the hard drive. For 15 minutes I watch as, one by one, all the photos are transferred. Incredible.

Now I start to feel miserable again about the pictures I erased yesterday. This is made worse when I see how beautiful the pictures taken just afterwards are. But the photos afterwards are of a lake - not of amazing, probably unique, mushroom shaped rock formations.

Check-out time is 14:00 so we decide to leave our bags in the room and wander around Chihuahua. We pass by the cathedral and continue on to a baroque style house - Casa Quinta Gamero. The house is a beautiful mansion, built in 1910 by a wealthy mining magnate for his girlfriend. A guide shows us around. The stained glass windows are Tiffany. 10 artists were brought from Europe to work on the wonderful art neauvou decoration. There are over 30 bedrooms. Nice to be rich beyond meaning! Too bad the original owner had to flee the revolution just after the place was built.

Outside the house, still in the grounds, a drunk man approaches us from the street. He's accompanied by a sober adolescent. Seems harmless but nonetheless we are relieved when three security guards step outside. A few minutes later, the pair walk off. We give them plenty of time before moving on.

A few blocks away is the home of General Francisco 'Pancho' Villa - an instrumental figure in the 1910 revolution. The house has been converted into a museum with various military and personal artifacts, including the car that Francisco Villa was assasinated in.

We just have time to return to the hotel before check-out time. At the hotel the reception is empty and I notice our key is not in its cubicle. Panic stations. I rush up three stories of stairs to room. The door is locked. I hope our stuff is still on the other side.

There is a man's voice a few rooms away. It sounds like it might be the manager giving instructions. I wait for him to come out. He seems to be taking his time. Tick tock, tick tock, I try to stay relaxed as the talking goes on and on. He appears and he has our room key. Phew! The room is just as we left it.

After packing up, we board a bus to take us to the inter-city bus terminal. We've decided to return to Mexico City. The guide-book says it's a 20 hour journey.

After travelling for about 20 minutes we reach the edge of the city and I presume we're close to the terminal. Monica asks the driver to let us know when we arrive. The driver nods and says we'll be arriving at 15:19. The time now is 14:20. "What?!". The taxi ride from the station yesterday took less than 30 minutes. Thinking that the bus must be about to take some intricate route, we get off to find a taxi instead.

There's a taxi stand where we get off so we ask the price of a taxi to the terminal. $7. We complain that the taxi yesterday only cost $5 all the way to the city center (where we've come from on bus). The taxi driver says "To the center, yes, that's closer, but we're on the other side of town". Great, the bus route has taken us further away from the bus station than we we're to begin with!

We get in the taxi, annoyed that our plan to save money by taking the bus has actually cost us more (and lost us time). About 30 minutes of perimeter road later we arrive at the terminal. As we unload the bags a horrible fact emerges: We don't have my small backpack that holds the laptop, camera, CD burner, etc. No! This can't be! How could I be so dumb?!

My mind goes into rewind and I remember putting the bag on the window seat of the bus while I sat sideways facing the aisle. I also remember jumping off the bus without looking behind me. Oh, how foolish!

We find the place where the buses from the city stop. There's a guy with a clipboard there managing things. We explain the situation and he looks in his list for a bus arriving at 15:19. He doesn't seem to see anything and asks us what number the bus was (as in "which unit?"). Amazingly I'm able to recall the number 524 painted on the bus. The manager tries to radio but is unable to get through.

Monica heads off in a taxi to try and intercept the bus. I wait with the bags under the bus shelter and pray that whoever finds my bag does the 'honorable' thing. Of course it's probably too late. Destiny has surely already taken its course. I can only hope it's a favorable one.

Buses arrive continuously as I wait but none is THE bus. I reflect on what impact the loss will have on our future travel plans. At least almost everything is replaceable (with money). Money is a problem however - we have a fixed budget and the value of the equipment is equal to about 2 months of travelling. I also reflect on the irony that despite all our concerns about being robbed, it turns out that I'm our own worst enemy!

Bus 524 appears on the horizon. Soon we'll know how fate has played its hand. As the bus pulls up, Monica appears from behind it and tells me the bag is onboard. Thank you God! I can't believe my luck and swear to try and be a better person to show my appreciation.

The bus driver relates the story. Some young guys got off the bus carrying my bag. A women on the bus, God bless her soul, told the driver that she didn't think that was their bag. The driver agreed and got off the bus to chase after the young guys. He asked for the bag back. The guys claimed it was theirs. The driver insisted and the bag was returned! Heaven must indeed be missing an angel (or two).

Extremely content with our luck, we give thanks by donating about $70 to various causes - including the bus driver!

The next bus to Mexico leaves at 16:30. We buy tickets and food and wait for the clock to roll around. A few people ask if we got our bag back - seems we've created quite a stir.

The bus is fairly new and looks comfortable. The drive out of Chihuahua takes past mountains of eroding sedimentary rock, similar to the those in northern Arizona. The first film is 'Mute Witness'. If named for its artistic merits, it might have been called 'Dumb Witness'. Next up is 'The Blair Witch Project'. Quite a convincing film... at first. Monica tells me that camping alone in the woods is now out of the question. Great. Now I need to find a film that romanticizes camping in the woods!

After the films we try to sleep.

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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