I had been on many Mexican buses in the early 1990s, some jammed so tight that holding
on was both unnecessary and impossible. But on those trips I never found, or even thought
about, body odor. But as we stopped and picked up Tarahumara families, I noticed that
soap and cologne would be luxuries for these desert nomads.
The road turned and a rock cliff, like the bow of a ship, divided the highway into two
canyons. Daniel slowed and pulled over. Soldiers with dogs ordered us out. They were po-
lite and firm; this was not unusual. Buses, trucks and cars on the highway are frequently
checked for drugs, weapons and contraband. Daniel opened the luggage compartment; a
soldier prodded the bags. A dog sniffed us then was taken inside the bus and led up and
down the aisle. We were waved back on and continued our journey.
I arrived in Parral, checked into Hotel Adriana, 375 pesos ($34). The lobby was marble,
and in the entry there was a table with a spray of flowers. I was told it was the best down-
town hotel. It was near the plazas, the cathedral and two museums. But before going out,
I got a shoeshine. I purposely wore leather walking shoes so from time to time I could sit
in a plaza, have my shoes shined, talk and ask questions. But I had not seen one shoeshine
stand on my entire trip, so I'd accumulated eleven days of dirt and dust.
Expenses: Hotel Adriana $34, meals $13, side trip $45, bus $7, miscellaneous $5. Total