Thursday, October 20, 2005

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.5


(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.4)

If you are trying to make good time and cover miles, and you have a choice between a toll road (cuota) or free one (libre), take the cuota! The roads are better than most in the States, are straight with gentle curves, and most of the time you can cut your travel time by at least half if not more. It's not that the free ones are all that horrible, though some are, it's that they pass through small towns with topes. Oftentimes the topes aren't even marked, so if you see any evidence that humans dwell anywhere, you can count on a few hidden topes to slow down for. Sometimes I'd see little kids waiting alongside the bigger unmarked topes with hopes of getting a nice spark show when some unwary traveler hit the damn thing at 70mph. Luckily, I'd always see them just in time to at least stand up on the pegs to take most of the impact. Poor Ruby didn't seem to mind the jolt every now an then, so we just sailed along leaving disappointed children in the dust.

The toll road toward the coast was amazing as the mountains got less craggy, with less foilage. They seemed to roll around each other with larger masses shooting out of lakes that were rimmed by soft green marshes. I hadn't even noticed that Ruby had crept up to 95mph on the straight parts when some pendejo in a Dodge Stealth came bearing up on my tail within feet. It was a four-lane so I don't know why he didn't just go around. He backed off a little and I held at 95mph, as fast as I wanted to go. Until he came blasting by me at what had to be at least 120mph. I guess he was just showing off? Or wanted to race? No clue, but I was just glad he was gone before he ran me off the road. Until a bit later. He must have stopped for some juice or something, because he came right up on me again! Did the same exact thing. Maybe he was just being macho? Or drunk? Anyway, he eventually got tired of his little cat and mouse game and blew right past me again at an even higher velocity. How fast will those Dodge cars go anyway? Then, I finally got to see the thing I've been waiting for all my life.... passing some dimwit who shouldn't be allowed on the road explaining himself to the Mexican highway patrol! Yes! I wanted to slow down and laugh at him, but I didn't want the cop to catch on he could have caught a gringo instead. ;-)

The road gradually dropped in altitude and the curves began more gentle flanked by mountains as far as you could see. The scenery began to hypnotize me with it's constant sprawling beauty. Until I began one long curve and became disoriented. My mind stammered while it tried to figure out why all the mountains to the left had suddenly disappeared into a hazy white nothingness. And then the smell of the sea hit me and realized I'd finally hit the coast. Only a few more kilometers to Lazaro Cardenas, but Ruby seemed to be in some sort of smooth ecstasy and so she persuaded me to pull over for a smoke and rethink my destination. After a quick scan of the map I noticed Zihuatenejo to the South was only another 60 or so kilometers and I still had a few hours of daylight and no rain, so South we went.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson that the new places held much more for me than the old familiar ones, and I'd already been to Zihua a couple times before. But Ruby insisted and I already knew of a decent cheap room with a place for Ruby as well. Everything remained as I remembered and I found hotel Miriam without problems. Only if felt like the town was know less vibrant than I remembered. I had a cup of coffee at this little stall of a cafe that exports fine coffee and chatted with an American guy, Les, with a long ponytail and a substantial beer ponch who said he'd lived there for 5 years. He went on about how his ex-wife, a Brazilian gal, had taken most everything from him and that his restaurant had gone down the tubes due to economic depression. He claimed that the kinds of tourist that used to come to Zihua were getting older now and opting for the nearby touristy, all-inclusive resort town of Ixtapa. And he continued about how the gringos didn't want to pay a reasonable price for good food. Said, they had no desire to help out the local economy, bla, blah. I answered that the folks here don't seem nearly as friendly as they used to and bordered on rude. And, that maybe if they were a bit more cheery, spruced up some of the streets, and offered a fair price for things without constantly trying to gouge the tourists.. they might want to come back and stay. He agreed the folks weren't as friendly as they once were, but that they'd been burned one to many times by gringos. He didn't elaborate, and I took the opportunity to bid him farewell. Before I left I recommended a couple restaurants for seafood in case I wanted to support the local economy.

The next day Ruby and I went out for ride and up along the road that overlooks Zihua's bay to give her chain a nice cleaning with a fresh coat of lube. While I was getting Ruby all sorted out, I noticed a couple of taxi drivers sitting nearby drinking beers. They asked what was wrong with my moto, and I told them nothing.. that I was just putting oil on the chain. They looked puzzled and asked, "Why? Is it making noise?" I said, "No, it's just something you're supposed to do every now and then to make sure it lasts longer." They seemed befuddled with the idea of preventive maintenance and went back to swilling their beers. Until I asked them,

"Are you guys both taxi drivers?"

"Si! Both of us. Why?"

"Because I'd really like to know what the problem with taxi drivers is. Why are you guys so inhuman when it comes to driving... especially motorcycles!"

They laughed and just said it was part of the culture. That's just the way it is.

"Taxi drivers are the most stupid people in Mexico. I know, I am one! They don't have to have a special license or anything so most aren't the best drivers around."

"But, don't they realize that if they crash into someone there're likely only going to break their car, but if they crash into me it'll likely break ME?!"

"That's just the culture my friend. We get paid by how many fares we can pick up in a day, so the faster we can get to where we're going, the more money we make. It's not personal, we treat the Mexican drivers with little respect as well."

I watched as the other driver who didn't speak English down the last of what must've been his 5th beer and tossed it down the hillside.

"Hey, I've got a novel idea, do you suppose if the taxi drivers didn't drink mucho cervezas while they're working, they might be able to drive a little better?"

He looked down at the beer in his hand, finished it, belched, and excused himself. Said he had to get back to work.

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.6)

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