Loose in the foothills: Tracing ancestor's Mexico trek proves troublesome

2010-08-19T00:00:00Z Loose in the foothills: Tracing ancestor's Mexico trek proves troublesomeOpinion by Bob Ring Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Last March I told you about my great-grandfather Eugene Ring's return from the California Gold Rush in 1850, "… hiking, horseback riding and canoeing across southern Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec, after being abandoned by his (Panama-bound) ship while he and nine others were ashore foraging for food and water.

"Five of Eugene's fellow travelers died of cholera before the survivors reached Veracruz and were able to catch a ship to New Orleans."

Next March I have the opportunity of a lifetime. My wife, Pat, and I will be in southern Mexico in the colonial city of Oaxaca, where Pat will participate in another knitting retreat.

That will put us only 150 miles northeast of the barren Pacific beach Eugene's small boat crash-landed on, amid "boiling and foaming" waves, more than 160 years ago.

I would very much like to retrace his frantic trek across the 125-mile-wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec, following the path and visiting the places he described in such detail in his memoir. (See "Detour to the California Gold Rush: Eugene Ring's Travels to South America, California, and Mexico, 1848-1850" - details are on my website.)

I'm thinking three days would be enough time to see what I want to see.

I have recent maps of the area that appear to show good roads now exist - remarkably close to Eugene's route - from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast.

I need to get from the city of Oaxaca to Tehuantepec to start this adventure. Pat and I hope to explore Eugene's landing area on the Pacific Coast around Tehuantepec, then head across the Isthmus to Minatitlan, then northeast to Veracruz on the Atlantic Coast.

Here's my problem. I don't feel comfortable at the prospect of renting a car and driving myself around this far-flung, unfamiliar land. How much of this adventure could be done by bus? Could I hire a driver? Is this area of Mexico relatively free of political turmoil, drug problems and crime?

I've been trying to contact U.S. and Mexican travel agencies, Mexican government tourism offices, the U.S. State Department and Oaxacan tour operators, but I'm not getting anywhere.

So I turn to you readers. Is anyone out there familiar with traveling in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec? Does anybody know of a good person to arrange travel for the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Veracruz?

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions to help me realize this dream!

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E-mail Bob Ring at ringbob1@aol.com or view his website, ringbrothershistory.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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