I’m not going to have much time to write. I forgot to plug my computer into the car—but I can write on my ipad. I hope there’s juice for that. And I have a lot to write about today.
Lola has a great night camping on the beach. I’m the only camper, and after about nine, no one’s around except the beach dogs. She made fast friends with one of them, and they run around the beach and in and out of the waves for a good part of the night. I come out at about three in the morning to pee and find the two of them lying exhausted on the beach about ten yards in front of my tent. Lola’s friend is a very nice dog. Lola suggests that he can come into our tent, and we can adopt her, I go to sleep and in my dream, Sarah tells me that’s what we should do. But in the morning, I run though all the difficulties and although I’m tempted, I tell Lola firmly that we can’t.
I pack, fold up the tent, and we’re ready to move out by eight. After I fold the tent and put it in the car, Lola’s friend lies in the sand where the entrance to the tent was. This is sad. We say good-bye and are off.
I know I’m going to have a good drive today. I have pesos for gas, I’m heading into the high mountains and will cross Mexico from the Pacific to the Gulf Coast. Unless I have problems, I will make it to a camping site called La Jungla—because it’s like a jungle with a site where only tents are permitted—if you can make it down the two-mile dirt road.
Within an hour, I have made Arriga and turned right heading into the mountains. The climb is sudden and beautiful, up and up and up, the road snaking. I am into the drive, thinking of nothing other than the drive and the beautiful land through which I am driving. This is close to Nirvanah—very little me and my focus on what’s outside me. I do, however, make Lola, who is exhausted, move from the back to the front seat so that I can pet her.
All I can say is that drive is beautiful. I wonder why I like doing this so much—driving through beautiful land that I’ve never seen. I know I didn’t take this road down, although it’s hard to tell because coming down, I didn’t have maps. I’m very glad that I have maps going back.
The roads are tight and I take chances by stopping on the right side to get pictures. I know I’m not supposed to do this, but I do a lot of things I’m not supposed to do. It’s a habit.
An incident: at about noon, I make the turn from Tuxtla—actually, just a bit before Tuxtla. I stop at a has station to fill up but mostly to check on my location. Good decision: the attendant tells me the turn off is before Tuxtal, about one kilometer up the road. I would have gone into Tuxtla.
So I take the turn and drive for about fifteen minutes and then spot a OXXO, where I can get supplies, and a restaurant.
I go into the restaurant, have a good breakfast (with some things, like beets, that I didn’t expect) and coffee. Before leaving, I do my usual and ask whether I’m on the right road (yes—symbol here). The waitress has no idea. The manager comes over to help. I pull out my map to show her where I’m headed. She gives me strange directions. She has her finger on the map pointing to nowhere that is close to where I am or where I am going.
After ten minutes of an incomprehensible conversation, she has the waitress get the manager’s glasses. She can’t see the map. Lovely, helpful woman who does not like her glasses.
The glasses don’t seem go help. I ask, Donde estamos ahorita? He
Her finger lands on somewhere two hundred miles away. But she is very clear about something: I’m headed in the wrong direction. I need to turn around, go back, make a couple of turns and basically go somewhere else. I’m thinking, so much for my camping plans. And I’m also realizing, she doesn’t know how to read a map. They don’t use maps in Central American and Mexico.
Gracias, I say, and leave and go to the OXXO tienda in the same complex. I ask two people: yes, I’m headed in the right direction. Vaya recto, straight ahead. I guess none of us like to admit our ignorance. So we plunge ahead, giving information that we think fits who we think we should be.
I drive up and up. The mountains have sharp edges. The Tuxtlas seem to have lived here (and many still do). I think that when I get back, I am going to want to read more about the indigenous cultures in the areas through which I have driven.
I drive through the impossible mountains and start heading down after about three hours. After an hour of heading down, I am in the flats. I pass two military check zones—they just want to know what I’m doing here and about my two bicycles. They don’t ask me for identification. They are simply very friendly and wave me on.
At about four, I hit the complicated traffic zones. By stopping and asking for directions to XXXXX, I manage to stay on the right roads. This is so different from my trip down when one right road equalled two wrong ones. Nevertheless, it’s getting into late afternoon, and I’m getting worried. Usually, I try to land at five at the latest. It’s five, and I haven’t even made the turn-off to the off road to the off road to the off road. If everything goes right, I should be there by six, ample time to pitch my tent and close down, in spite of the warnings about the two mile dirt road getting into the camp ground. I reflect on trust and language, how much I am simple trusting words in a book. But I always know that if things go wrong, I can sleep in a car.
The road off the road off the road is beautiful. I almost mange to submerge my fear of where I will be sleeping tonight. After an hour of going up and down mountains, I see the lake XXXX. I can see that it will take some time to go through XDDDD==== and find this campsite, but so far, I haven’t made mistakes.
I get into this lovely town. It is beautiful. Lovely, when I pull over to look at my map, people pull up to my window to ask how they can help me.
I follow as best I can their directions. I am in a local part of town. Suddenly, bang, things are happening overhead. I slam on the brakes—yes, same deal as on my trip down. My overhead bikes hit a tent stretched across the street.
My overhead racks, although I was traveling a reasonable 10mph were destroyed. And the tent was downed—apparently damage to one of the grommets. My bikes were a mess, ripped off the top of the car. Also, the tent was helping some kind of gathering into Jesus movement. Lots of music and shouting.
A crowd gathered and tried to help me with the mess of my bikes on the street. Some others tried to negotiate with a beautiful señora, maybe in her 80s regarding how much damage I had done to her tent. She was simply beautiful.
If Jeff, Doria, and VJ are reading this–maybe God is giving me a second chance at this scene. Not having to get out of the country that day, this time I came though. I helped the people with their tent, paid la señora 200 peso, which is what she asked for, and they helped me figure out what to do with my car, the racks ripped of the top, the bikes lying in the street. I am. on my way, about 30 minutes late.
The road I am taking hit a dead end, so I go back to the scene of my crime. Some of the original participants in the negotiation are still there, and they give me specific directions to La Jungle, where I am hoping to find a campsite.
It is getting late and dark. I think of trying some hotels que permite perras, but I really want to camp, so I press on, my bikes jammed into my car. I follow the directions (again, how much we rely on others’ words), this road to that road to that road. It’s about a twenty minute drive from town. I know I’m putting all my money on this campsite—and of course, I can sleep in the car. But I do have a certain faith—in part in myself, in part in others, and in part in the general good will of chaos. Mostly, I survive.
The final road supposedly leading to La Jungla is an extremely narrow country road with few houses. I am holding my spiritual breath when finally I see posted to a tree a small sign for La Jungla, with an arrow pointing to a dirt road.
It is quickly getting dark. The road is a dirt road plus. Not only that, each dirt road seems to lead into two or three dirt roads. I follow my instincts, taking what I think is the main dirt road—with serious travel difficulties.
We find it. La Jungla. Some buildings. An obvious camp ground . Isolated. Birds calling. Howler monkeys. This is perfect. But I see no one around in the first area of buildings. I yell Hola to no one, and no one answers. I walk in back of the strange set of buildings with a large outside dining area and a huge, mostly empty swimming pool to find a large grassy area obviously used for tent comping. I see another building to the side of the camping area, and Antonio, a tall, thin, mostly bald man in his 70s or 80s, comes out to welcome me. He is broadly smiling and very welcoming.
I drive into the tenant area, unpack and put up my tent. I’m the only person here, which is probably why Antonia was broadly smiling.. I start writing. I could stay here forever.
Goto Day 19: Seeing How Others Move