We gathered at Ginger's house on Christmas Day, 1969. My parent's station wagon, borrowed for the trip, was loaded to the gills.
L-R: Ginger, Mr. Allen, Dave, Mrs. Allen, Priscilla, and Frank, who accompanied us as far as Texas.
Of course the car had to be completely unloaded before we could get at the spare and the jack. In true Southern form, we gals let the guys change the tire.
We didn't want to travel without having a spare, so the next order of business was getting the flat patched or replaced. Good luck with that on Christmas Day!
I don't know how many places we stopped to ask about getting the tire fixed. All the shops were either closed or offering reduced services. Eventually we could recite in chorus "but it's Christmas Day!"
Once we got the tire patched the brakes began to act up! We were looking again for a repair show that was open. According to Dave's narrative we eventually located a shop in Victoria, TX, that fixed the brakes. I never did like Plymouths.
After dropping Frank off in Laredo, TX, we purchased seven days of car insurance for the drive into Mexico and crossed the border.
I believe we spent the first night in Monterrey, but the first place I remember was Saltillo, a beautiful city nestled in the mountains. The farther we went from the border, the lovelier Mexico became.
Our goal was Mexico City down the Pan American Highway.
I'm not certain exactly where this little city park was located. My slide says San Luis Potosí, but it is now a huge city. Was it then? Wherever it is, we enjoyed a charming band and cruised a great street market.
Our next stop was Querétaro, where we stayed two nights. I don't remember why I made a point of taking this picture of our motel except that it was quite comfortable. Nice pool.
Even though it was winter and the altitudes throughout Mexico were quite high, it was not cold. Just cool enough to be pleasant.
Dave made note of a man who followed us around and accosted us women. It was not the last time that such a thing happened. We were lucky to have Dave along as our "protector."
I don't recall anymore why our focus was almost completely on pre-Columbian monuments. Many of the cities we visited have notable Spanish colonial neighborhoods and buildings, but we visited few of them. It probably had a lot to do with time limits – you can only do so much.
Their primary god was Quetzalcóatl – the plumed serpent. When I was in college one of my roommates, who majored in Spanish, hung a mask of Quetzalcóatl in our dorm room. While here I thought of her. She later became a missionary to South America.
Close by our picnic location was this nasty little cholla. Those spines are lethal. Some varieties, known as "jumping" cholla, can shed segments that latch on to your clothes or quivering flesh.
The original slide has a nicer sunset light.
Driving in Mexico was fraught with hazard, but we were young. I don't know that I would brave the Mexican highways after dark now. We frequently saw cars and trucks parked on (not beside!) the highway. Drivers took no notice of oncoming traffic before passing – they just figured that everyone would have the good sense to get out of the way. I know we did!
We heard stories that poor people deliberately step in front of an American car in order to claim injury and collect insurance (or extortion).Of course this was many years ago and circumstances are undoubtedly different nowadays.
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