This article is from the April 2003 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Dear Dave,

It’s been quite a while since I last corresponded (summer of 1997). Come to think of it, that was around the time of my last real trip to Mexico –– ouch, that hurts to admit. I guess a couple of kids sort of put the brakes on my traveling for a while. Having said that, I’m glad to report that I just returned last night from a trip to Real de Catorce. I made the trip with a couple of old friends –– all of us have hit 40 this past year and were able to get pity passes from our wives for a long weekend. The drive from Nuevo Laredo to the turn-off for Real north of Matehuala takes only about 5 to 5½½ hours if driven straight through. All of that stretch, except for about 20 or 30 kilometers on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, is an extremely nice (and complete!) toll road. The cobblestone road up to the tunnel at Real only took about 20 to 30 minutes after we realized that it was actually easier and less rattling at a slightly faster speed than most were traveling it. Accounting for the usual border-crossing, car-permitting ““shuck & jive””, the door-to-door trip from Austin can be done in 10 or 11 hours.

The May 2001 newsletter featuring Real came in very handy. We stayed at the Hotel Meson de la Abundancia that was highlighted in that issue. I can confirm that it is still a great place to stay –– both the hotel and adjoining restaurant/bar were excellent. The hotel still has the same owners mentioned in the article. An interesting note about Real is that the Internet is now alive and flourishing. Apparently, about a year ago, new telephone lines were run. With the addition of reliable telephone service came several Internet Cafes with surprisingly fast connections. The once-impenetrable isolation has received a chink or two in its armor. Having said that, I’m sure that there were probably a lot of people in Real, both locals and what I refer to as “eternal” travelers, who had no idea there was a war going on in Iraq (there’s something to that saying, “ignorance is bliss””). This was my first trip to Real de Catorce and I have to say that the impression will linger even longer than the normal returning-home blues following a trip to Mexico.

Keep up the great work you’re doing with the Mexico File. As I was reviewing the issues looking for an article featuring Real, it was very pleasing to see the improvements in layout, design, and content you’ve incorporated over the years. Along those lines, do you remember my suggestion for an annual index by region and city name? That would have been a wonderful resource in searching for the article and planning for this trip. With the index, I might also have known that another newsletter, May 1998, featured Real. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that one until today.

Thanks for the great publication.

A loyal subscriber,

Scott Raper

Austin, TX