The Griswald's Mexican Road Trip - Part 1

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Escrito por Geenance desde ( el día domingo, 21 de marzo, 2004 a las 17:03:39 horas :

We picked up our rental car at Hertz in Zihua centro.... a brand spanking new, pearl white PT Cruiser with only 1,000 km on it. We were ready to go 'cruizin'. We have done jungle hikes in Belize, crocodile safaris, rapelled down jungle cliffs and taken local chicken buses. This was going to be a breeze! While we didn't know it at the time, we were going to put that new PT Cruiser to the test.

Our objective: have a great road trip, seeing more of beautiful Mexico than just a beach resort, and buy a handmade Mexican guitar in Paracho for our 15 year old son.

Off we go. We got 'temporarily displaced' simply trying to head out of Zihua, but were soon back on track on highway 200. Mi esposo, Al, was driving somewhat tentatively (in contrast to his usual driving style) as he adjusted to the new vehicle and the Mexican road hazards (see Mexican Road Trip Primer, posted previously).

Al, is really into natural materials, flora and fauna. He would drive along looking at the scenery beside the road, saying, (somewhat reminiscent of Clark Griswald in the National Lampoon vacation movies), "Hey kids, can anyone see the flowering cactus?", or, "What kind of tree do you think that is?" We soon had our sons conditioned to yell out "topes!" or "el burro!" at the first sight of the relevant road hazard. My husband also loves being friendly with the locals. Much to the embarrasment of our sons, he would honk and wave at any and all locals that we passed in the countryside. "Daaaad! Sheesh!"

Following my incredible navigational instincts, we almost inadvertantly took the 'highway of muerte', thinking it was the cuota autopista to Uruapan. ("Hey, the town of La Union sounds vaguely familiar. Let's turn here.") Luckily there was a military checkpoint at that intersection and they sent us along in the correct direction. But, before you know it, and after a few 'encouraged' donations to Mexican charities, we were happily speeding along the lower section of the new toll highway to Uruapan, #37D . We're cruizin in Mexico!

After about 20 minutes, we hit the expected 'detour' on the highway where they were doing bridge repairs, and gained further solid experience with Mexican topes and informal toll collections in villages. My son saw a warning sign with a picture of a construction worker, who appeared to have his feet coming out from under him. "Hey, there's a watch out for falling construction workers sign!", he said. It became a running joke anytime we were near a construction area.

We knew, from reading the Zihua message board, that we would be getting back on the new toll road at some point. We came across an on ramp/off ramp to the highway. Some rocks were strategically placed as a barrier across one lane, but I had read about this on the board and due to my 'superior research' we knew to simply drive around the rocks and get on the highway again. O.K., it looked a little bit rough, but certainly no rougher than the detour we had been on. We could actually drive at a faster clip. We simply had to watch out for remnants of rock slides and miscellaneous construction materials. Admittedly, a tinge of doubt played at our minds...should we be on here? Aha! Here comes a vehicle the other way! Yes, the road must be open 'at our risk'. A few kilometers later, another vehicle headed in the opposite direction. Yup, we're doin' O.K. We just had to watch out for those sections of the highway that seemed to be lacking pavement.

"You see, kids, this section of the highway isn't 'officially open'. That's why it seems a bit rough. And, keep in mind that the Mexican infrastructure isn't quite what you've become used to in Canada. That's why they let us drive here, even though there aren't any highway signs and they haven't cleaned up some of the construction materials.", I said, oh so knowingly.

-- To be continued --

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