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Pachuca  -  09/11/03 - 19/12/03

Our laptop suffered a meltdown whilst we were in Pachuca and as with all things computer it took quite some time to fix.

However this gave us some time to take in ordinary Mexican life.

Pachuca is a prosperous little town high in the mountains. Originally a mining town it has lots of British connections. As I said before there were many Cornish miners there at one time bringing the pasty and football and we were reliably informed that the clock in the tower was made by the same people who made the clock of Big Ben. Apparently they came out to fix it when it went wrong.

Computer whizz - Alejandro

We made great friends with Alejandro who owned the internet cafe where we spent many hours fixing and backing up.

One evening he took us to a little village up in the mountains where the pasties first took hold. We went to a little cafe, which had a "How to Make a Cornish Pasty" poster on the wall, to sample a few. R had a traditional one but with of course added chili. They were all meaty so I had to have a sweet one - oh dear!

It was pineapple and the pastry was absolutely gorgeous. We then shared one which was filled with kind of a very thick rice pudding. Sounds odd but it was delicious.

We ended up being invited to the hotel's opening party. All the poshest people of the town attended and we think it was on local TV. We looked the scruffiest of all but one of the waiters took a shine to us and kept filling our wine glasses and bringing us endless samples of food.

The manager was really sweet and made time to talk to us, insisting we now had a home in Pachuca. It was beginning to feel that way.

In fact we very nearly bought a puppy one day. It was the most gorgeous black Labrador sitting in a cage by the side of the road. It was so difficult to go by.

There were several little shows on in the square whilst we were there. Mostly traditional dancing and R got some great pictures.

We discovered that crossing the road in Mexico is quite a tricky thing. They do have Zebra crossings of sorts but no one takes any notice of them at all. I think they are just there so that the ambulances know where to pick up the pieces. You have to take your life in your hands to step on to them and then dodge the buses, vans, cars and bikes that seem to speed up as they approach.

An amazing thing happened whilst we were in Pachuca, England won the Rugby World Cup! We happily sat up at three in the morning watching the semi final when our brave boys beat the pants off France and were all set to do the same for the final.

The alarm went off at quarter to three; we put the TV on, nothing.... just fuzz. R went down to reception and tried to explain that this was a disaster!

The very helpful night watchman then took us on a tour of about six empty rooms to find a TV that worked. No luck, there was just no signal to the hotel.

So we sat with our dead TV and listened to the commentary on the internet.

Hooray, hooray, we beat the Aussies, what could be better!!

Well being able to watch it would have been better but we decided we may have woken the whole hotel if we'd had the pictures. We fell back in to bed and slept happy.

Christmas preparations were in full swing and a major part of life. Lots of decorations and a huge tree appeared in the square. They also had the biggest Nativity scene ever. It was the whole geography of the Christmas story with the Mediterranean, the River Jordan (complete with running water), wise men in deserts, shepherds on hills and of course the stable with hanging star.

Children were flocked around it constantly.

Also whilst we were there it was the "Our Lady of Guadalupe" festival. She was a vision of the Virgin Mary who conveniently appeared to a Mexican Indian convert and then managed to rid a town of typhoid thus helping to unite the indigenous population with Catholic Church back in 1531. The guy who saw the vision was called Juan Diego, so all the kids dress up as mini Juan Diego's and parade through the streets with the images from all the church's being carried behind them.

It was a pretty colourful affair and the parade went on for hours. Lots of fireworks too, they love fireworks here, any excuse it seems.

One thing we also sussed out, which we'd been curious about was why so many cars have no number plates. We noticed that the traffic police actually unscrew and take away the plates of offending cars. It turns out they have this mad system where you have to pay what ever fine you owe to get your license plate back. So of course nobody does and then can't be held accountable for anything else they do wrong. How mad is that? It was really bizarre to see the police lying in the road nicking number plates.

Once all the boring stuff was done (poor Richard) we said our goodbyes to Alejandro and the hotel manager and the bike and we were very happy to be off down the road again.

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