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.


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.


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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