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Summit Up

Daily Staff Writer

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column you can trust.If we tell you something, you can be darn sure we made it up. At the least, we embellished. We realize this might not sound like award-winning, ethical journalism, but we don’t have a problem with it, so neither should you.Anyway, trust becomes a big topic when traveling. Our recent adventures on the Summit Up Mexico Expedition ’04 proved this yet again. No, we’re not going to be telling you how some gypsy woman scammed us out of a few bucks (we mugged her and took it back) or how the little street urchin kid offered to take a picture of the group with our camera and ran laughing with it down the street as we yelled at him that the lens was wide-angle and he needed to get closer (we mugged him, too, and left him lying in the alley with the gypsy).No, these are much more positive tales. The first travel tip is: Sometimes it pays off to trust a stranger, and it gives you an experience you never could have dreamed. In this example, we were in a convenience store buying a phone card when a man overheard our feeble attempts at Spanish. A conversation ensued, and the short of the long of it is, he was a librarian who also gave tours to tourists in exchange for a donation to his church’s mission (providing medical care to gypsy women and street urchin boys found unconscious in alleys). He could show us around, he offered, for a donation. Well, we took him up on it, and to our delightful surprise, 15 minutes later, we found ourselves standing in the bell tower of the city’s main cathedral. We got a perfect view of the whole city; a history of the cathedral that no book could give us, and we got to watch the guy who lives in the tower ring the bell. (As an aside, don’t trust the Quasimodo guy when he tells you to stick your head in the bell.)Sometimes, it’s important to trust people, even when you think they’re hiding something from you. Looking for a hotel room in a different city, and quickly fearing that we’d be sleeping in the alley (with all the gypsies and street urchins), we pressed and pressed on the woman behind the hotel front desk. OK, we said, so if we can’t all stay in one room, are there separate rooms we can split up in? How about one-person rooms for all of us? Finally, the woman relented and said, go have a look, stupid gringos.Three flights of stairs later, we found ourselves on the roof (not the top floor, not the penthouse, the roof). Our first clue that we should have trusted the woman – who was really trying to protect us – were the street urchins sitting on the roof smoking pot. The next clue was opening the door to the “room,” and we use that term lightly because what it really was was a concrete block, three-walled shelter with a corrugated tin roof and a wooden excuse for a door that pad-locked – not a chain, not a bar mechanism, but a pad-lock. To top it off, the temperature in the room was about 95 degrees, which did a great job of leeching the sweat and sex smells out of the bare mattress on the metal frame. So, as you can imagine, we apologized to the woman for not listening to her in the first place. And then we asked if she took traveler’s checks.***Bring it on, Sunday. We’re ready. If you need more travel tips, let us know at, fax at (970) 668-0755 or just tell us you’re staying home where it’s safe on the voicemail at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237.We’re out getting de-liced …

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