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Harder on my Back, but Easier on my Wallet

The last post about my adventurous vacation near the Pacific Ocean was a while ago. It was time for another trip to calm the nerves and relax the mind.

Instead of driving out to the ocean, I decided to go inland. Just a couple hours north of Guadalajara is the small city (and state) of Aguascalientes.

I wasn't looking for much. Just a nice hotel with a bathtub really. And someplace to go hiking nearby.

Aguascalientes delivered!

I booked a nice room (turned out to be the nicest) in the airport area south of town. It included carpet square (couldn't really call it carpet but my feet were happy it was at least not cold tile or laminate) and a standard bath tub. It was also on the highest floor so I was granted a view of....the Nissan factory. That's all right. I didn't book the hotel for the view.

The drive there was uneventful (thankfully), even though my car is making more noises now than ever before.

I didn't push her up the hills so she didn't overheat and we arrived in one functioning piece.

We left late so dinner was at the hotel restaurant. Since the hotel was out of town it didn't seem worth it to bother to drive into town. Hungry and tired, the hotel served up a tasty chicken and rice soup and chicken nachos.

Denny Crane was being his usual self and not wanting to go to the bathroom in a new place. I tried numerous times and he just sniffed around and wanted to leave.

Then it was bath time! Or so I thought...

I had specifically chosen the hotel because they had bath tubs. Believe it or not, those are not easy to find in Mexico. But when I had set the stage and was ready to start the water, the plug didn't work. I put all my clothes back on and marched down to the front desk to relay my unhappiness with the situation. I'd specifically requested a room with a tub and they gave me a tub that didn't work! Grrrr.

I didn't have much of a choice at that hour so I returned back to try to take a bath while holding towels down over the drain so the water would drain slower and the towels wouldn't float to the surface. It wasn't the relaxing bath I'd hoped for but it was still far and away better than a shower. Mostly happy Ronda.

I tried one last time to take Denny Crane outside and success! He finally went to the bathroom. It wasn't all he needed to do but it was a good start.

The next morning was a free and deservedly so, breakfast. It was terrible. I've eaten lots of continental hotel breakfasts and this was one of the worst. To top it off the staff walked around like they were about to die. I kid you not. Shoulders hunched over, scuffing their feet, sighing loudly, etc. It was pathetic. But it was free, so I ate the powdered scrambled eggs and headed to the days hiking agenda.

The hike I'd picked out from the All Trails app was called Cerro del Picacho. The app said it was a pretty easy and short hike and takes less than an hour. Now, I'm not sure who wrote that, but I beg to differ. The hike reminded me of a desert version of Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock AR. It was filled with boulders and lots of big steps, pulling myself up with my hands on the rocks. In case you think I'm complaining, I'm not. I love these kinds of hikes.

However, I had Denny Crane (a 9-10 lb dog) in a 4 lb backpack on my back. The sun was beating down relentlessly and there was no relief or shade to be found. I had water and a hat, but man, that was a tough hike. It took me a good hour, plus, just to get up the 2.5 kilometers. Forget about the circle back.

By the time I was close to the top I could hardly breath. I was near exhaustion but I made it. And at the top the breeze was delightful, as was the view once I stood back up to see it. The top of the mountain had lots of boulders to walk around and see the views from varying angles.

As I took pictures and just sat breathing in the fresh cool air, a storm rolled in. The wind became more powerful and the rain started falling. It was time to descend. Luckily the descent wasn't as steep as the ascent. It was a fairly easy romp down the mountain side and around the base back to the car.

Again, there were no signs and I just happened to pick the right trails that literally dropped me off directly at my car. It's like my car and I are connected or something :)

Anyway, soaked with sweat and rain and exhausted, I drove into town to see what I could find for lunch. There was a highly rated "mariscos" (seafood) restaurant so I stopped. I do not understand why some restaurants in Mexico are so highly rated and packed with a waiting line outside. The food was so bad I couldn't eat it and they didn't even get my order right.

I left the food, paid, and walked out.

I was still hungry but didn't want to waste the opportunity of being in town so I drove into the downtown tourist area, parked in a garage, and headed out on foot to find my obligatory magnet.

Along the city streets I happened upon a churro stand. Churros are my favorite. These were miniature, stale, and cold. They were still delicious.

I walked around for almost two hours and decided it was time to buy my tourist magnet. I had found only one place selling magnets so I asked how much and was told $160 pesos. I laughed as a reflex at the absurd price. Then said no thanks and walked away. Near the city plaza I stopped to ask a store owner where to find other magnet and touristy shops. She told me on the other side of the church. I hadn't ventured there yet, so away I went and I found 4 or 5 shops with all the touristy prizes.

Wouldn't you know that the same magnet I'd been quoted a price of $160 pesos was marked at $80 pesos in these stores. White American girl tax. No thank you.

I found a better (and cheaper) magnet. Bought it and walked back to the car.

My feet were done. After the long afternoon of hiking and then a few hours of city walking, I really needed that bath tub. The hotel had better have it fixed!

Starving and knowing nothing was nearby the hotel, I stopped at a taco joint on the way back. Ordered suadero tacos, a chorizo quesadilla, and two other tacos dorados to go. Sat down in my hotel room on the comfy couch and dug in. Boy were those good tacos!

I wanted to go for a swim in the pool before the bath tub soak so I donned my bathing suit and went out to the pool. It was empty and fairly chilly, but I didn't mind. I got in and started swimming laps to relax. I hadn't swam 6 laps when a man with 3 teenage girls entered the pool area. They didn't bother to try to share the pool with me. I was only using one small side of it, but they literally jumped in from the side of the pool, right next to me. The man said nothing and just let them continue invading my space and leaving the rest of the pool untouched.

That ruined my peaceful and restful time so I got out of the pool, walked past the man who offered no apologies for his girls' rude behavior, and proceeded back to the room. It was a bit early for a bath still, but I got in anyway. It was fixed!

Thankfully the hotel had fixed it while the room was empty that day. I sat for hours in that water, just soaking up the Epsom salts and wishing I could have a bath every day.

Because of my hotel status, I was able to check out quite late. It was a good thing because at about 5:30 that morning, I got up to put Denny Crane back in his bed and stepped in a soft pile of sicky goo. He'd already gone to the bathroom (no 1 and no 2) that night, but the trip or dinner had made him sick and I hadn't heard him while I was sleeping.

So lucky me, I got to clean it up at 5:30 in the morning. At least I had a very late checkout and had brought lots of towel wipes.

Very late the next morning I ate an equally bad breakfast and then hit the gym. The hotel did have a nice gym.

Then it was time to check out. Since Guadalajara wasn't that far away I wanted to check out another flatter and easier trail. I drove past Starbucks (somehow I was still tired after the previous night...) and out to the "trail".

I really should know better by now, but Google sent me on a crazy dirt road. Apparently it was the only road going to wherever we were going because cars and motorbikes of all kinds were on it. I was shocked because the road was in terrible condition.

I got to where Google said to turn right and there was a concrete fence with a locked gate. Wasn't turning right there. I pulled off the "road" onto a grassy entrance and waited as another car passed by. The following section of road was even worse then what I'd driven. I could make it but I certainly didn't want to.

I chose to leave the car parked where it was on the side of the road, lock it, and hike down the road to see if there was any trail to be had.

The road ended at a giant "beach". The trail was supposed to go alongside a lake. This road ended at the grassy/dirt area on the edge of the lake. The lake side was filled with cows grazing on whatever green stuff was growing in the shallow waters. Further out children splashed and men fished.

It was an odd scene.

I walked around and noticed the fence stretched all the way to the lake. The trail is no more. It's now on private property.

But I was able to take pictures of cows and the lake with the locals swimming and feel the sear of the hot sun on my skin for another hour.

After that, there wasn't anything to do there. Cars were collecting at a surprising pace. Apparently this lake front "beach" was the go-to place for the local villagers to enjoy a Sunday afternoon/evening.

I returned back up the road. My car was still there and everything in it.

After walking the last stretch of the road, I was very happy I had not driven it.

Now I drove back up to bad road I'd driven prior to the cobblestone streets of the local village and back out onto the highway. It was time to head home.

The drive back to Guadalajara was also uneventful. We arrived safe and sound, ready for another bath, but knowing there wasn't one.

Aguascalientes was a much less stressful trip than the previous. My poor car sounds like she's dying though. No one here knows or wants to care for her. They rob me, lie to my face, and return my car in worse condition every time.

Glad I got to make another drive though. One more adventure in the books.


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