We continued our trek north from Oaxaca toward Guanajuato - but we needed to find a place to stop for the night near Puebla. The day of driving stretched on and on and on, and we wanted to avoid entering the Puebla City limits, so we found a nearby national park in which to camp - Volcan Malinche (also spelled Malintzi), Mexico's 5th tallest peak.
And they weren't kidding! We drove up and up and up over 10,000 feet, through towns without roads (surprise!) until finally we reached the entrance to the national park.
At 10,000 feet it is cold, and hard to breathe. Even a short jaunt to the baño left us doubled over catching our breath. Crazy!
There was a fancy campsite run by the state with cabins and bathrooms and campgrounds, etc., but we opted to camp just outside in one of the more rustic and natural campsites that had obviously been used for that purpose many times before (imagine a clearing in the woods with a used fire-circle). We were making ourselves some dinner at our campsite, in the dark, when the policía rolled up. "Here we go," we both thought. "Our first run-in with the Mexican law." Five guys emerged from the car and walked onto our campsite with their flashlights in our faces.
They wanted us to leave - to stay in the government-run fancy campground up the hill (for 200 pesos night) because we weren't "safe" where we were - no one was supervising our activities. We were suspicious of their request, but didn't have much of a choice but to oblige. We shelled out the money and slept in the fancy campground. Policia: 1 - Ian and Jessie: 0.
The next day we headed toward Guanajuato to stay with some of Ian's family's friends, and got a little bit lost on the way. We decided t pull over to a group of people on the side of the road who looked semi-official to ask for directions, only to realize we'd driven ourselves right into a road-check of immigration officers, who were immediately suspicious of our dilapidated truck and our pasty American faces. They wanted to see our documents, asked us a bunch of questions, etc. We were like "we just want to know how to get onto that road over there!" Finally, they let us go, but we vowed not to stop to ask for directions again. Policia: 2 - Ian and Jessie: 0.
Road stress melted away when we reached Guanajuato - or Marfil, where our friends have one of the most beautiful houses we've ever seen. So beautiful, in fact, we extended our stay from one night to two. And we were very glad we did. We had a day to explore Guanajuato - just a beautiful and vibrant city with tons to see.