Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 7- The drive from hell, or maybe to hell

Morning arrives and we are out of the motel by 8AM. Tampico lies ahead and it is Easter Sunday. We hope the roads will be less crowded, but that’s not the case.

Hipolito and Juan

Easter is a big time in Mexico and all the families head to the ocean for spring break. Now the holiday is coming to a close and everyone is headed home to the interior. Lots of traffic.
View of Tampico

The drive around the Tampico area is just as people had indicated, crowded, so we avoided the central city and took routes that went around the outside of town. The roads around town are in horrible shape and there is road construction everywhere. I’m sure at some point it will be OK to drive through town, just not yet. It was in one of these construction areas that a rock was thrown up into the air and landed right on the passenger side front window. And of course it broke the window. I had planned to put a new window in before I had left, after all the truck was 19 years old, and it was the original windshield, but decided I didn’t have enough time, and the window was only lightly pitted. I’m sure glad I waited. I would have been really pissed if it was a new window. At least it is not in the drivers view.

The drive from Tampico to Vera Cruz is a beautiful drive, but every small town has multiple sleeping policemen (speed bumps), and that really slows the drive down. With Hipolito pulling the boat, we would come to almost a complete stop at every bump. And with all the traffic, it would just back up behind us. Then the problem was, everyone wanted to pass the slow traffic. They would sit on the back end of my truck like a bumper sticker, constantly looking for every opportunity to pass. It got old real quick. Everyone was always jockeying for position. I would pull over and let them pass, so they only had to pass Hipolito and his boat. In a matter of minutes, I was right behind Hipolito, once again. And just as quick, they would pile up behind us. It went on like this for hours. I could hardly wait for this part of the drive to end.

Finally, we ended up on the Vera Cruz coast, driving along a beautiful, but crowded coastline. The Mexicans here sure know how to have a good time with the family. The hotels were full and they had LOTS of campgrounds right on the water. It looked like lots of fun and I would loved to be able to join them.

We sat down for lunch, in the late afternoon, at a restaurant overlooking a small lagoon, about an hour or more from Vera Cruz. I, of course, had to have fish, Vera Cruz style. What a meal! The fish was so fresh and the Vera Cruz topping was the best I’ve ever had. A couple of cervesas and I was in heaven.

We still had plans to make it to at least Vera Cruz, or further, but the sun was slowly setting and we needed to be on our way. No more driving in the dark, or so we thought. The drive heading to Vera Cruz was a winding coastline drive, along the lines of Malibu, California. But once again, it was beginning to be the drive from hell. I can’t believe that someone would endanger their family’s life, just to get home fifteen minutes earlier. Once again signs and road markers are just a suggestion, that nobody follows.

We pulled over at a lookout, that Juan, our traveling companion had said was a beautiful view, overlooking the bay, but it was getting too dark to really enjoy the view. So we stayed a few minutes to let the traffic pass us and then got back on the road. Juan was out in front of us by a couple of minutes, as we struggled to keep up. After about ten minutes on the road we see flashing lights on the side of the road and it was our friend Juan having a conversation with the Federal Police. Not the ones you want to have a conversation with. There was nothing we could do, so we drove on to the next offramp and waited. About 20 minutes goes by, and we finally see him drive right past us, motioning for us to keep moving on. By this time it was 9:30 at night, it was dark, and we had just driven a couple of roads from hell. Hipolito and I discussed our original plans, and how we were not going to drive at night, and here it is again, dark, and we’re out driving unfamiliar roads. We made a decision to find a motel and call it a day, and maybe catch up with Juan at the next stop. But he was pushing to make it all the way to Villa Hermosa, which was another 3-4 hours away. No way were we going to make that drive in the dark. So the place we had stopped to wait for Juan had a motel and we just decided to stay there. It was only 250 pesos, about $20US, so what the heck, we just stayed there.

What a dive! The room was small and I’ve seen cruise ships with bigger bathrooms. And with all the truck traffic going by and the U shape of the motel, we probably would have done just as well sleeping on the street. The noise level was so loud, I couldn’t even sleep, although I was dead tired. I think I was more tired when I woke up.


evopete said...

So glad that you guys have decided to not Drive in the dark that is very smart. Just send my dad a hello and that his son is following the blogs closely, please just don't take as long as I thought you guys got stopped by the same guys juan did. 

T and J said...

Hey PC!
Jeff Arlich here!
Sounds like your trip is all I, and you expected it to be!!!
Just remember, like my brother Dave says, when in Mexico, drive like a Mexican...there are no rules..
Found your blog, pretty cool..I'll keep in touch.
Be careful! Don't drink the water!!!
Mas Tequila!
Buenos nachos for now, my friend!