Thursday, February 3, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

In Mexico, everyone understands Hitchhiking as Rides - like the english word.
¿Donde vas?  ¿Puedo dar un ride?
Where are you going?  Can I have a ride?

These are stories of my most memorable rides.
They happened two days from each other last week.

#1

I'm pulling out my map right now.  My first day backtracking on my whole trip was from Mexico City to Oaxaca.  I took two steps out of a truck & waved my thumb towards the cars headed to the junction.  The red one stopped.  I took 5 steps from one ride to the ride.  Chido.  Cool.  This is Brynn & Rafa.  Brynn is from Portland Maine, but says she's from Canada; Rafa is from Acapulco & lives in Ensenada, near Tijuana.  They met going to school in Halifax, at Dalhousie.  Muy chido.

We polished off a bottle of creme de mezcale that night & probably pissed off everyone else at the hostel.  Found a lucha libra themed bar with a band playing in centre ring.  The next day we spent climbing inside some Zacatecan tombs & ruins together, at Yagul, Mitla & Monte Alban, that watches over Oaxaca city.  Saw what I wanted to see - the tree that is it's own ecosystem, El Tule.  The petrified waterfalls were beyond what I was expecting.  (Hierve el Agua.)  Strangely peaceful, or just strange.

Brynn & I are on the same wavelengths, where she will do or say something moments before I am about to.  She studied arabic, is a couchsurfer & shaved her head 3 times last year.  Rafa had cut all his dreads off a month ago, except for one at the back.  Together they are the second cutest couple I've seen in Mexico.  (The first being Nati & Mati from Sayulita who have cartoon superpower cuteness, although I hadn't considered Dante & his beau from Mexico City...)

They left me outside the hostel we stayed at the night before & I proceeded to get lost & wander through Oaxaca alone, which isn't so bad actually.

#2

There are two highways getting from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido.  One goes east to Juchitan, then along the coast to Pto Escondido, while the other goes direct.  I see the sign for the direct one, the one I want to take, & have a discussion with the lovely bus driver man who says esta es solo un media hora mas rapido - this one is only half an hour faster.  (Ha!  If only.)  I get off...

10 hours later I arrive in Escondido.
Hitching through nowhere again.  Luckily I watched that video until 5 am last night about those lovely folks doing a hitching documentary in Europe.  They humbly said "Even if you wait all day, you will get there."  No big deal.  I got some good spots.  Got a couple half hour rides along the way.  Two trucks pull over in the middle of rural Oaxaca.  They're going to Escondido!  I find it odd that two trucks should stop.  My offer has two guys inside.  Should I:
a) run
b) hop in
c) see what the second truck is up to
d) refuse

There is really no option to be overdramatized.  Of course I went with them.  Roberto is driving & Alan is sitting shotgun.  Alan is kinda cute.  Roberto says the other man in the other truck is with them.  A convoy!  The other man in the other truck doesn't speak english or spanish, only Romano.  Gypsies!

Roberto apologizes for going slow, even though we're passing the lumber trucks & have to wait for his friend about once an hour to catch up.  We make switch batteries for our own truck about 3 times with the battery at my feet, & once for a new one.  I try to catch some z's & hope to see the ocean in an hour or so.  When I wake up, we're still climbing.  Alan decides to go with the other truck either to talk, or help him manoever potholes.  Roberto is a good driver, cause he makes this trip once a week, to sell 1200 coconuts, as well as drives a truck to the northern border.

We're waiting for them when Alan comes in the back of a pickup.  No gas.  Syphon gas from ours & he hitches back to his own.  We are at the top of the mountain with rings of clouds over our heads.  The air is fresh & spectacular.  Two more hours he says.

As it gets darker I start realizing that we have no lights.  None.  We stop under a streetlight; he pulls out some wiring from under the dash, unscrews a light from the trailer & with a twist of a couple wire coathangers - voila!  One headlight.  Roberto buys & sells cars.  Gyspies; at least I know I'm in good hands.  Roberto apologizes for being so slow in getting there, but it's an Adventure!  Adventure always means misadventure, but I am enjoying the ride.  He says at least I'll get there safely.

So the police stop us.  In the back of the other truck is half the skeleton of a cab of another truck.  Alan rolls up some document sitting on the seat & shoves it in his pocket.  I briefly question whether the truck is stolen, & continue reading my book.

Roberto says among other things he's a pilot.  He flies a small plane of marijuana from a clandestine location to Guatemala & Columbia for the drug cartel.  He buys me a coke & a bag of chips.  I've spent 8pesos today.  We talk about how he needs to practice his English & how my Spanish is fairly good.  After almost 11 hours since leaving the hostel, I get dropped off in Pto Escondido.

What did they say in that documentary again?  Don't take rides from strangers?  No wait - Don't Panic!
No, that's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Actually, that's the best advice there is.

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