Answers in Mexico In the Jan. 6 Letters Ralph Lazo wrote regarding a Dec. 9 article on the Barranca del Cobre in Mexico and stated that he will be leading a group through the area this spring. My daughter, son-in-law and I were in a group led by Lazo last spring. It was interesting and fun: the train trip, the city of Chihuahua, the lumber town of Creel, the picturesque lodge we stayed in at Cusarrare, the overnight stop at Divisadero, all the sightseeing, shopping for baskets and other items made by the Tarahumara Indians.
On this journey with Lazo you will be doubly rewarded. He gave us information on everything and answered an endless stream of questions. He wanted to insure that we all had a great experience. CHARLOTTE SHAMLIN Redondo Beach
Room Service Re Peter Greenberg's article on room service Jan. 6: One incident my husband and I will never forget happened to us at the White Hart, a lovely and venerable hotel in Exeter, England, in 1982.
We had not rung for a morning wake-up or coffee, and were enjoying a bit of pre-breakfast wake-up activity of our own when, after a sharp, quick rap the door to our room was immediately flung open, and in walked a proper British waiter with a silver tea service.
Without a second's hesitation at our "not quite-quite" demeanor, he calmly walked up, set the tray down right next to the bed on the night stand, turned smartly, and left, closing the door with a flourish reminiscent of the Royal Palace Guards.
Dumbfounded at first, we collapsed into laughter, wondering just what-all this gray-haired gentleman had compiled in his backlog of stories during the course of his service. LINDA and BOB UMSTEAD Huntington Beach
Cruising the Nile Several weeks ago you published a critical letter about a Nile River cruise aboard the King Tut. I have just returned from that same cruise and agree only in part with those comments. True, the food is not joy; meats were tough and food tasteless, although breakfast was OK, and the soups tasty. Plenty of fresh fruit was available, too. The personnel were friendly and accommodating, the tours well-planned, and the guides knowledgeable and almost understandable. This is not a luxury liner but it provides acceptable amenities such as entertainment and dancing (disco) in addition to the tours.
If you travel on the King Tut, try to get accommodations on the third deck or higher, and a starboard location. JOHN A. HORROCKS Van Nuys
Mexico Color We agreed with everything Beverly Beyer and Ed Rabey said in the Mexico City article Jan. 6. We do wish, since they made such a complete assessment of Hotel Reforma, that they would have included the Boutique Mirabelle in the hotel. The proprietress, Mrs. Frances Nash, is an American. She is more informative than any travel guide. She also has lovely, distinctive Mexican dresses. If she cannot fit you she will order it made to your size. If you ever need to know anything about clothes, food, entertainment, or if you need help, ask Mrs. Nash. She is a most delightful woman. JOHN and PEG CHAMBERS Glendale
One Strike, One Run Last spring a reader wrote in praise of the Hotel Tarrane on Boulevard St. Germain in Paris. Because of the letter and the hotel's location, we made reservations for six. Upon arrival in late June there was a smile, a shrug, and "Oh, what am I to do?" and reservations for five--no single. A miserable cubbyhole was found for a few francs and the runaround continued. It was during the European soccer championships so there were no vacancies and we could not move.
For three days we were smiled at and lied to. Finally, my wife camped in the lobby, despite the owner's protests that no one had checked out. The problem was solved when two guests who had checked out that morning returned for a forgotten item. My wife, who speaks French, asked them.
The Hotel Tarrane may be pleasant in the off-season, but we were subsequently (on two occasions) afforded more honest treatment and less expensive accommodations just around the corner at the Hotel Crystal on St. Benoit, where we will henceforth take our small groups of student Eurail travelers. GENE M. WRIGHT Las Vegas
On Camera Theft . . . Wanted to make one comment which, while it may be one person's view, seems valid to me. On Jan. 6 professional photographer Carl Purcell offered some good ideas about protecting cameras from theft. But both he and, a while ago that fine columnist Judith Morgan, recommended putting a camera around one's neck, and the pro also suggested putting a foot through the strap of a camera bag if put down.
I think both are risky. These motorbike thieves, in Italy at least, are often indifferent to the safety of the person they rob as they speed by. Better to lose a camera than have one's neck broken or feet pulled out from under one, with resultant serious injuries. The camera is probably safer in a kangaroo pouch with a waistband, which is much harder for someone to yank at in the usual manner. JOAN INGALLS San Francisco
Smiles in Spain Re S.J. Watkins' letter of Jan. 6--he asks if any reader experienced any negative services in Spain. I feel that I have to write in defense of all the people I met in Spain. I'm one of two grandmothers who traveled alone all over Europe, especially Spain, France and Portugal. We traveled by train. We stopped wherever and whenever we wished. At times it was midnight, and even at that hour we were always treated with courtesy.
We stayed in a $4 B&B; and in four- and five-star hotels. The people did not go around smiling all the time, but when we asked for assistance we did not get help from one but from everyone within hearing. They were more than happy to help, and many times insisted on taking us wherever needed, and nowhere did we ever see an extended hand waiting for a tip.
The only negative and embarrassing thing was to meet demanding, condescending, show-off tourists. For example, in Florence while climbing hundreds-of-years-old stairs someone very loudly said, "Haven't these people heard about escalators!?"
I'm sorry the Watkinses had a disappointing time, but maybe if they had moved around and met people on their own they might have a different letter to write. RITA NORIEGA Somis, Calif.
Re the Footloose in Merida article Dec. 30: We left for Merida Jan. 8, to some extent because of that article. We carried the article with us. The Hotel Balam was about twice the rate stated. The finest restaurant, Alberto's Continental, was a real tourist trap.
Where the article scored was La Prosperidad restaurant--good food, low prices, lots of entertainment, and most of all a full house of locals. When you find yourselves the only tourists, you know you're in the right place.
We presented the article to the hostess and it was passed around, clipped out for framing, and we received a nice painting with signed greetings from the owners and the gracious hostess, Emma.
We are clipping articles for our next trip.
BILL and PAT COOPER
My husband and I have become avid fans of one of your travel writers, Peter Greenberg. His articles are informative, interesting and well-written with a keen eye on issues of concern to most travelers. His tips on car rentals and his recent report on room service, as it is practiced in a variety of hotels, were excellent.
I hope Greenberg's articles continue to be a regular feature.
ROSALIND H. WOLFE
After reading Mimi Thayer's remarks on her Crown Cruise trip on the one-day Viking Princess (Letters, Jan. 6), I felt compelled to defend the line and put the blame on her travel agent. It was our fifth such trip. The smell on the pier was brought on by the painting of the pier by the Harbor Department. Just wait until you've had the thrill of being the second 747 to get to customs at LAX. Our agent gave us your missing brochure that explained all this.
As for the price, this is the best going. Better compare it with other ads. Please try to cruise again. It is both different and rewarding, and we rate the Viking Princess the best out of five.
DENNIS W. MILLER
We must respectfully disagree with Mimi Thayer in that my wife and I, our 6- and 7-year-old children and their grandparents had a splendid day on that cruise. We enjoyed the friendly, mostly Filipino staff; the mariachi group played with gusto and had beautiful voices; the three-piece dance band and female singer were so talented and enjoyable; the food was very good. . . .
We have absolutely no affiliation with Viking Line, but we hope they do well so that other families on a limited budget can experience the thrill of an ocean cruise, even if it is only for one day.