Last evening, after the children and adults set off on their parade around the village and returned to the church, one of the celebrants told us that fireworks would be set off at 530 the following morning, and sure enough, at 530 am on the dot, several of the faithful arrived at the church to continue to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by igniting a few large bottle rockets and ringing the church bell (I counted 101 chimes!).
We departed Canutillo at 8 and got on the road to Durango. About an hour or so into the drive, we approached a group of Policidad Estados by the side of the road who were conducting vehicle inspections. They directed all of us to pull over and went from vehicle to vehicle asking questions about where we were going. They were all wearing machine guns strapped across their chests, and I noticed a few of the men were not in uniform.
They approached our vehicle and began taking pictures of it. One of the men knocked on our coach door and asked to enter. I said, “Bienvenidos,” and he came in and asked us if we had any pistoles. He also looked around, opened our bathroom door and said, “Hmmm, el bano!” Honestly, he seemed embarrassed to be invading our privacy, but everyone was polite (he had a gun, after all), and he wished us a good trip. After they finished inspecting vehicles, (and I’m not sure everyone’s vehicle was entered as I was a little flustered by the sight of so many machine guns), they directed us to pull back onto the road, and as we pulled away, the fellow who had inspected our vehicle yelled to Larry something along the lines of “Happy travels and don’t drink too much beer!”
Not too long afterwards, another group of Policidad Estados pulled us over! This time they were all in uniform, and it turned out that they wanted to make sure we were having a safe trip. They offered their services if we ran into any trouble. No vehicle inspections were conducted, and the encounter concluded a few minutes later. Later in the evening, after we had arrived at our destination, I struck up a conversation with a woman from Durango and I told her we had been briefly detained twice in one day. She said that she thought it might be a new security force President Obrador had recently established to, in her words, “maintain control over the population.”
The rest of the afternoon drive was uneventful. Once we arrived at the hot spring resort, Balneario San Juan, we were directed to drive into an adjacent field to park. Garth accidentally sunk his rear drivers side wheels into a mud hole, and it was thought at first that a tow truck might be needed, but several of the men managed to wedge stones under his tire by employing the hydraulic levelers and some skid mats that he carries with him. After about an hour of effort, Garth was able to drive his camper out of the hole.