Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Antonio led us on a very informative tour and it became clear very quickly that he and his co-workers care very much for the animals. Nearly all of the animals here arrived from the government. Many have been confiscated at ports of entry or have owned by individuals as family pets and then have been abandoned or given up when they became too big and no longer manageable (or affordable) to keep as pets.

The government has no means to care for them so they come here to Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe. Although the government gives them to the zoo to take care of for an undetermined time (during investigation and litigation) they do not give the zoo any funds to care for the animals. In some cases, the zoo may take care of these animals for years but the government can always come back and take them away.

Other animals are given to the zoo as gifts – which was the case with the 40+ peacocks that they have. These were a gift from a priest.

One of three swimming pools

The “Zoo” is much more than a place to see animals. The Guadalupe Valley is generally an area of very poor families. When the zoo was started, the owners wanted it to be a place where local families could come and learn, play, eat, and enjoy family time together.

In fact, up until very recently all it cost for admission for a whole family was a Jersey Dairy Milk bottle cap. The children could provide a day of fun for the whole family just by saving their bottle cap from their milk at school and presenting it at the front gate to the zoo.

There are three swimming pools, a pond with paddle boats and lots of shaded picnic tables. Families are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and enjoy the day together.

After our tour of the zoo we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went into town right away while others took care of chores at home. We evidently picked up a nail or screw as we got close to the zoo on Friday because by the time we pulled in to our parking spot our “toad” had a flat tire.

Bummer

But not to worry – I’m sure there’s a tire shop in town somewhere and we don’t need to drive anywhere anytime soon – there are others here that we can carpool with to any of the local attractions.

Although Guadalupe Valley is very poor, it is rich with vineyards and wineries. But these vineyards and wineries are not owned by local people nor do they employ local people. You’d think that the local economy would be lifted by these wineries, but they are owned and operated by companies from Tijuana or Mexico City and they bring in their employees from out of the area. Go figure.

We finished off the day with a visit to Baron Balche’ Winery where we had a tour, a wine tasting, and dinner. What a wonderful cap to a fantastic day!

Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures above so you can see more of the detail. You can see in one of the pictures the rough rock walls encompassing the cellars.

Each of the large stainless steel tanks hold 7500 liters of wine – there were about 40 of these huge tanks. There were HUNDREDS of White Oak barrels. The barrels come from French Oak or American White Oak and there are two sizes of barrels – either 300 or 600 liters.

There is NO heat or A/C in the cellars – they are literally dug out of a whole in the ground. It’s a constant 55 degrees and very humid – water drips down the walls so they have fans blowing to keep the air moving so mildew doesn’t form.

It’s been another busy educational, fun, and rewarding day. Now off to bed because “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

Thanks for riding along – we hope you can make it with us to Day 4!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Down to The Little Bitely Tavern

Our first night out of the park, we decided to run down the road a few miles to The Bitely Tavern where, on Thursdays, they offer their $2.00 hamburger.

THIS is where you’ll find Bitely

Bitely is a small village that currently boasts a gas station/convenience store, township hall, the “Bitely Boys” Motorcycle Club, a post office, and it’s most popular inhabitant …. The Bitely Tavern.  It used to be a station on the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad in 1889.

The place was PACKED with folks that obviously knew each other … those that live nearby and those that come “up north” on the weekends.

Even though it was packed, we were served quickly and enjoyed our burgers AND liquid refreshment as well.  One of the fellas at the bar put money in the juke box and it blared country tunes of Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves.  The little 94 year old lady at the table next to us (right under the juke box) was there with her daughter and son-in-law.  Although she was sitting right UNDER the speakers, the bar maid had to keep turning UP THE VOLUME so she could hear!

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The service was great, the food was good enough to come back again and try something else on the menu (what the hell does that mean?) and everyone there was having a good time.  We’ll go back and try the pizza next time.

In our next post, we’ll share with you the “suburb” of Baldwin that was famous for top black entertainers from back in the 20’s to the mid-60’s.  Stay tuned …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Can You See It?

Kathy and I took a ride to Cottonwood today to do a little shopping for groceries and a couple things we needed for the RV.  On the way there we saw a sign for the “Alcantara Vineyard & Winery“, so we decided to take a closer look on our way home.

The “rock road” was long and winding down from the main road toward the river, which makes sense because the vineyard can pump the irrigation water up from the river.  When we finally got all the way down (about a mile), we walked in to what appears to be a private home that’s been made into a tasting room along with a covered patio out back with cafe tables and stools where we could enjoy their best vino along with a platter of “light” snacks (cheese, vegetables, crackers, etc.).  I think some might call it “eclectic”, but without any “whimsy”.

Kathy says we’ll have to go back some time when we don’t have fresh produce in the back of the car (in 90 degree heat) so that she can enjoy the drink and the atmosphere.  I guess we’ll do that, (happy wife = happy life).  It took this picture below to illustrate the “Verde Valley” that we live in here in Arizona.  At first glance, this picture just does not show the depth of the valley.  But you need to zoom in to see the points of interest listed and only then can you really appreciate how wide and deep this valley is.

I want you to take a look at this picture and see if you can find:

  • the river
  • the vineyard
  • the winery
  • the chapel

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You’ll need to really zoom in on the picture and try to follow the road (where I’m standing with the camera at the top of the hill).  Remember, it was a LONG WAY down.

In a few days I’ll post an updated picture with labels pointing out the river, vineyard,winery, and chapel so you can check yourself and see how good your guess was.

Let me know in the comment section below if you think you found anything in the list.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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