2010 Feb 21 | Mexico and caving

Dumb dishwasher broke the wine glass.

I've been trying to eat some healthier cereals, like Total and Smart Start, but since they're not nearly as yummy as the cereals I usually eat, I have to space them between the good ones. Although I really don't like them and I really like the unhealthier ones, so this experiment might not last very long.

Practicing photocoagulation on rabbit retinas.

This is my kind of delivery info: no long explanation of where the box was left, just an arrow pointing to it.

Someone wrote a formula on the board before an exam. Dr. Woo tried to erase it, but the marker was much more permanant than it was supposed to be. We didn't end up using that equation, anyway, but it was still pretty funny.

It was our last day of dispensary, so this time, I brought the food: a cookie cake with everyone's name.

Our group posing in funny glasses in dispensary.

It's never fun to be driving up to where you're planning on eating and seeing a bunch of cops there. Thankfully they were just pulling a car over for speeding.

Even at 50% off, most of that candy is still way overpriced.

That's fun.

Friday morning we headed off to Ciudad Acuna. We stopped at Buc-ee's for gas and free jerky samples.

And they had all kinds of jerky.

Lucy and Sid slept while I drove.

Our first stop was Del Rio, where Lucy had found a little winery. We did a tasting of 10 wines for $3, which was the best deal I've ever seen.

Some of the winery.

We got no reception at all in lots of places.

We drove to lake Amistad, too.

They put rocks on the trash cans to keep the lids from blowing away.

The ranger at the station told us how to get to the cliffs where people dive. I just wish I had known about this in advance so we could have had more time to actually jump off and climb back up a few times rather than just looking at it.

It's a long way down.

And you want to avoid jumping onto another rock.

A duty-free shop where we left our cars to walk across the border had this funny sign. The owners were really nice, too; we weren't supposed to leave our cars there while we ran across to Mexico, but they let us.

Last chance to turn around before entering Mexico.

The US-to-Mexico direction was completely open.

There were lots of people selling things to the cars as they crossed the bridge.

Us at the border.

And coming through onto the Mexican side. Lucy saw a guy jump over this revolving barrier and start walking to the US. I wonder if he made it?


Where they made the ceramic pigs they sold.

More shops.

I liked this: a guy painting a wall without tons of "wet paint" signs everywhere. If you can't smell the paint or notice the guy painting, you deserve to get a bit on you. Dumb over-lawyered America.

I didn't come all the way here to eat that.

We ate at Crosby's because we had heard about it online.

Lucy kept saying the prices were in dollars, which I couldn't believe because no way was a steak $100. We figured out that her menu was in dollars and mine was in pesos.

It was really good food.

We had a beer at the Corona Club...

... which is where the opening of Desperado was filmed.

This store felt much more Americanized, especially because there were prices in dollars on everything, whereas most of the other shops didn't have prices on anything.

Lots of dentists right at the edge of the border.

You actually had to pay to get across. It was 75 cents to go from the US to Mexico and then 25 cents to get back.

I think they need to update their sign.

"Permit... to pass without delay or hindrance." What a joke; they stop you at the border. That's a delay AND a hindrance.

We got to the cabin that evening. It was actually really nice.

Big long comfy couch.

The best part is because we arrived before everyone else, we got to sleep in the beds instead of on the floor.

There was running water, but it was from rainwater runoff and was stored, so we used these to drink from.

The composting outhouse.

A view of the cabin from the back.

Cooking breakfast: bacon and eggs.

We drove to the first cave on Saturday morning. Lucy was going to take her car, but they said to bring something with 4WD, so we decided to take my Jeep instead. The road to the cabin wasn't very bad at all, but this rooad to some caves had lots of spots where you didn't need 4WD but you did need a vehicle with high clearance.

Gearing up to go down.

The first cave was a vertical one, and only a few guys were certified to do that, so the rest of us just watched.

There were tons of cacti everywhere.

People crawled to the edge to watch.

A quick lunch, and off to the next cave.

This electrical post was really loose and only had a few pieces of rebar holding it in place. Don't think that's particularly safe.

This one was a bit of a pain because we needed rangers to guide us, so we had to go to the station and pay them $10 a person and then wait for them to get to the cave. Also, they wouldn't let anyone ride in the back of their pickups since it was against regulations, so we all had to squeeze in the back of the ones we drove.

Nahoko has taped her name onto her helmet.

Going down. The first thing we noticed when going into the cave was how much hotter it was than outside. Everyone took off their long shirts and by the end, we were all pretty stinky.

It was fun to look back and see a line of lights.

Another view.

Some stalactites.

And some other big ones.

A room with a ton of little stalactities on the ceiling.

An area with a little pond.

And another one called the wishing well.

A family of mice had chewed up some flags and made this their home.

It looks like someone chopped a slice out of this column.

It was a really beautiful day.

The drive to and from the cabin wasn't really rough, but there were some places where you had to dodge around holes.

There were also bump gates, but since none of us were very experienced in using them and didn't want them scratching or denting our vehicles, we just had someone push them open instead.

The gates where there because there were lots of animals around.

Breaking up an old deck for firewood, although we never did get around to having the fire.

Cooking BBQ chicken.

This is funny: A Metro Park & Ride sign on the roof.

Eating dinner.

It was a nice night, so I was outside lying on my back on a bench watching the stars through the clouds when I heard an animal a few feet away from me. I was really hoping it wasn't a coyote about to bite my neck...

... and when I looked over, it was a cute little armadillo. It wasn't very scared and I could get pretty close. I grabbed Lucy so she could see it, too, and it was the first armadillo either of us had seen.

When you were using the outhouse, you were supposed to put the red flag up so people could see from the cabin that it was occupied.

Breakfast on Sunday was blueberry pancakes.


The other cave, Kickapoo, was more of a touristy walking cave. This cave, Deep, was not; there was lots of climbing over and around and down things. Right after going over this mini bridge was the scariest part for me, because my legs were swinging in the air without being able to touch the other side, I only had a little dusty ledge to scoot sideways on, and it was a pretty big drop, so I was a bit worried of sliding off.

There were a few first-aid kits scattered around the cave.

A big climb.

Claw marks from where a bear had fallen down into the cave and tried to get up. Some cavers had found its bones and taken them to a museum.

Going down.

Going over.

Going through.

This part reminded everyone of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with the "invisible" stone bridge.

A big room.

Lots of stalactites.

One that looked like half of a longhorn's head.

Crawling back up.

Some little animal bones.

The path to the caves was marked with these little rock piles.

Walking back to the vehicles.

One truck got a flat tire on Saturday, and then my Jeep got one on Sunday. Not a big deal, right? Just takes five minutes to swap tires.

Well, apparently not. One nut was on there super-tight and we couldn't get it off no matter what we did.

We eventually ended up stripping it. The cabin was about five miles from the main road and only one person could get cell phone service. Thankfully she was able to get ahold of some towing and mechanics in Del Rio, which was an hour away. They all wanted $350 for just the tow, though, but we finally contacted a guy who said he would come out and take the nut off so we could get the spare on.

Since even her cell phone service wasn't very good at the cabin, we decided to drive out to the main road on the rim. That way I could get a little better cell phone reception so everyone else could leave. Lucy and Sid hopped in other vehicles and I sat and waited for an hour for the guy to arrive.

Thankfully he was able to get the nut right off, we got the spare on, and I could head back to Houston. It was a pain and a bit expensive (not to mention I still have to go and get a new tire and rim), but at least I didn't have to get it towed into town and stay in a motel overnight until they could work on it or something.

And I only got one little scratch on my back from caving. Overall, it was a really fun trip, and it actually would have been extremely cheap if it weren't for that one overtightened lug nut.