My Weekend trip to an Orphanage in Mexico

March 6, 2010



This winter has been a terrible challenge to sit inside and do nothing but dream of riding. It is either been raining, snowing or just too damn cold to ride. I have been frustrated from lack of riding and needed an opportunity to go somewhere. South is always a good choice during the winter.

I like the idea of helping out the less fortunate folks of the world and this would make a nice addition to my desired destination of Bustamante, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. So I set out to plan a trip to Bustamante with a side trip to a children's home of some sort to drop off a few gifts.

Bustamante has been a destination ever since Gale (Smith) and I passed by there a couple of years ago. I have since read about the local caverns (grutas de Bustamante) there and I would love to see them and the area first hand. This region is very reasonable for a weekend run.

I wasn't sure how to find a children's home and nothing that I could think of to search gave me any kind of results. I'm sure if I could read the Spanish language, I would have had better results. Therefore, I sent a couple of emails to some hotels in the local area but only got one result that mentioned an orphanage and it was in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico. However, it did not have an address or anything to go on.

My desired route was due south through Laredo and through the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains to Bustamante. From there, I would decide where to go for Saturday night. Nueva Rosita was somewhat out-of-route of what I wanted to do, but I would keep that in-mind in case I couldn't find something similar in Sabinas Hildalgo or Villaldama on the way.

My ex-neighbor (Matt Brown) who now resides in San Antonio was interested in making a short (introductory) ride into Mexico because he had never been there on a motorcycle. I gave him rather short notice because I don't always know how my weekend plans are going to go with my work. However, Matt was up for the opportunity and we decided to make the trip.

As luck would have it, the network news aired a big story on the dangers of Mexico and especially Laredo the night before departure. I'm sure the news was very legitimate and the timing was probably to help parents deter their kids from going south for Spring Break. Regardless, I had to do some damage control and re-route our entry into Mexico. Matt was on-board with the idea as well. Therefore, we chose to go through Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras instead of Laredo/Nuevo Laredo. The new entry point would make it easy to re-focus on going by the orphanage in Nueva Rosita which would now be on the way. An additional plus to this route was that we don't have to stop at the border to do our paperwork. Allende is 37 miles south and has a customs office that is very handy.

Ok, time to go. I left work early on Friday afternoon to make the hectic and tumultuous ride down interstate 35 to San Antonio. The trip was as chaotic as any as I've had. By the time I got to West, I had passed three serious accidents on the opposite side. Just before Waco, there was chatter (CB) about my lane of travel being totally stopped as a result of a fatal crash ahead. I took the loop around Waco and kept my steady pace on down to Georgetown. I hadn't been on the tollway around Austin before but it was certainly time I tried it, and it proved to be very handy (Austin is never good for traveling through). My timing was good and I arrived in Castroville well after dark but right on time to meet Matt. He had been watching my Spot and got his cue when I passed San Marcos to head out to meet me at the McDonald's in Castroville. We rode to Hondo to have a late dinner, then on to Uvalde to spend the night. The motel was definitely "not" one of my better choices but it was within my price range.

I was up the next morning before my alarm, and Matt was close behind. We departed before 6 am to test our night vision for the last 50 miles of American soil down a Farm-to-Market road over to Eagle Pass. We didn't even bother with a little money exchange at the border, we just rode straight on through. Everything was just lovely until the rain started peppering down once we crossed the border. It took me a little while to fish my way through town to get to the correct highway. My Spanish is very weak and they don't help with the lack of useful signs. I stopped to confirm the correct road at the local Pemex (gas station) and felt "somewhat" good about the response that I had gotten from the attendant.

Mexico doesn't have a lot of pavement off the main roads so there is plenty of dust and dirt pulled up on the roads when traffic enters. This doubled with the fact that it is a mining region makes for a lot of debris accumulation. When you mix some light rain you get a slippery combination that doesn't make for a friendly relationship with a motorcycle. Matt and I held our speed down under 45 mph all the way to Allende to stay within a safe and responsible range.

Before doing our paperwork at Allende, we pulled into town to enjoy breakfast and dry out a spell. We were hoping the rain (mostly drizzle) would stop but it seemed to be the ongoing theme for the weekend. Regardless, we had gifts to deliver to the orphanage and that was the next priority.

I had only heard that there was an orphanage in Nueva Rosita. I didn't have a name or address of the location. It always adds to the adventure and we wouldn't have it any other way. We lurked through town until we saw a large church (Iglesia). I pulled up next to a few gentlemen working near the street and asked if the church was open. They responded with a yes (si) and we parked nearby and I proceeded toward the church while Matt watched the bikes. I could hear children singing in a nearby building and walked in that direction. A young man tried to engage me in some conversation but quickly learned, I no speaky the Spanish very good. However, we did exchange some attempts and I determined the orphanage was only two kilometers down the same road.

Upon arriving, the discouraging rain kept us from enjoying the time spent as well as we would have liked to. Add to that, I can't communicate well, so we didn't get as much information as I would have liked but it was a wonderful experience to share the gift of some various toys and candy. I definitely felt they appreciated the gifts and I will most definitely return in the near future. They told me that there were only 13 orphans located there but yet, there were numerous kids in the house. I can only guess that there must be some day care involved as well. The back yard was very sparse with very little playground toys to enjoy. Several ladies came-and-went in the few minutes that we were there. I will make it a point to try and discover a little more about their operation in future visits.

Matt and I left the parking lot and eased down the road a couple of miles to the next town of Sabinas. I had thought that I could make it all the way to Ciudad Anahuac before having lunch but Sabinas was looking better all the time to hole-up and see what the weather was going to do. I thought that I could just pull into a couple of hotels just to spend my time wisely while killing an hour or two. This town is definitely in an area I need to be familiar with lodging possibilities for future reference. We stepped into the first hotel and was less than overwhelmed. However, the second one, Gran Hotel Sabinas had plenty of unique character and deserved a more personal look. Matt and I wandered in the back door after waving ourselves past the security on their parking lot. The hotel was old but well maintained and you immediately felt like you were in another world. The price turned out to be very reasonable ($32) so we opted to take a further look into one of their rooms. The accommodations met our fancy but we decided to walk the streets for a short period just to see if the rain might quit. After having lunch and meandering back to the hotel, we decided to check-in and enjoy the culture that the town had to offer. Bustamante would have to wait until another day.

At 4 pm we took a grand tour of the city (36,000) by taxi to add to our new discovery of the day. We weren't disappointed as we found a river crossing that maintains a constant flow of water over the crossing. There was plenty of moss on the concrete and I'm not sure how the cars kept from sliding off the path. We were also curious as to how a scooter would pass over the rio (river) without getting swept away when along came a small motorcycle that demonstrated the process by traversing on the pedestrian walkway (above the water). The driver also took us back in the less-than-fortunate neighborhood to show us an old recreational park. We felt comfortable and secure on the whole route (or at least, I did). The evening brought us a steak dinner and a very small amount of karoke (we didn't participate) at the attached bar before we retired for the night.

The next morning we had dry pavement for our departure but that changed within the first five miles of leaving Sabinas. We stopped for breakfast in the nearby town of Allende at another hotel (more discovery) after returning Matt's motorcycle permit to the aduana (customs) office. We made an uneventful exit from Mexico in the rain at the same entrance point we had crossed the day before. The weather tormented us all the way to San Antonio before splitting our paths on the way to our home. Bustamante, I'll be back.



The Front side of the orphanage that we visited: Casa Hogar Refugio y Esparanza, Nueva Rosita, Coahuila

The orphaned children
The orphaned children with Matt
The orphaned children along with the other kids that were there. (We're not sure if they are additional day care kids or what?)
The backyard playground at the orphanage
The Gran Hotel Sabinas is where we stayed Saturday night ($32)
The inside of the Hotel
The old telephone control center (They said it still works and can be used)
My Room
Bike Parking
Bike Parking
Shoe shines on the main Plaza
Matt pictured with one of their many statues (on the main plaza)
This policeman was directing traffic (and the ambassador for the city)
Mexico Mail Carrier
The government building which covered several functions, two of which were the Post Office and police station
Inside the government building
The local train station (and they're proud of it)
The river crossing on the edge of town
The opposite direction of the same river crossing (The water level stays fairly constant)
We refer to the "other side" of the railroad tracks. Well, this guy lives on the other side of the river.
Two young girls and their mother out shopping on Saturday afternoon
Four ladies out shopping
Window shopping for a motorcycle or some furniture?