Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Driving the Jeep to Mexico - Part 20

Sunday morning we were jolted awake by the screeching of the alarm at 6am. We had decided that if at all possible, we were going to make a dash for home that day. The cities that lie ahead of us did not hold much interest for either of us. We were both sick of being on the road, being cooped up in the Jeep all day long and were missing our real homes. By this point, I had been gone from the island for 13 days and this would be my eighth day on the road. We did our best version of springing out of bed and showering and packing in a hurry. With one last look around the room to make sure that Jaimie had not left any free bottles of shampoo or bars of soap behind, we headed down to the Jeep.

Now came the question of breakfast in Ciudad del Carmen, or just heading out and finding a place to stop along the way. We opted for the latter, even though I would have killed for a cup of coffee before getting behind the wheel again. We headed straight out of town and crossed the bridge on the other end of the island. This was similar to the one leading on to the island. Even at the uncouth hour we were driving, the bridge was already lined with fisher people. Even more than before since it was Sunday. Finally off the bridge and just down the road was the sign and turn to Campeche.

The road to Campeche was long and mostly straight. We followed the coastline for the entire distance although not always with a view to the water. I was delighted to finally be on a piece of road that was in fairly good condition. So good, in fact, that I was able to drive like a Mexican for most of the way to Campeche. That is to say, I too, totally ignored the speed limit signs and traveled as fast as the road would allow Even so, it was 9 am before we entered into Campeche.
My opinion of Campeche prior to this was not a favorable one. The only time I had seen this city was in 2000 when we went to Chiapas by bus. Campeche was one of the stops and not a nice one at that. In retrospect, to be honest, most cities put their bus stations in the most dismal, rundown part of town. Campeche was no exception. I was not expecting much. What greeted us as we entered into the city limits was a semi-modern, bustling town of considerable size. M180 quickly turned into a 6 lane highway and a driving nightmare. I was in the far left lane and Jaimie’s job was to find a suitable restaurant for breakfast. Nerves were on edge again as Jaimie shouted and pointed and directed me to pull over, forgetting that I first had to negotiate my way across two lanes of crazy traffic. Needless to say, by the time I was able to convince the Mexican traffic to let this ignorant American driver get over, we were at the other edge of town and totally out of the business and restaurant district. For some reason, this upset Jaimie to no end. I couldn’t figure out why he was so upset. He doesn’t even drink coffee and hadn’t just driven for three hours without any! So we negotiated one of the many retornos (turn arounds) that Mexico has so conveniently placed on their streets and headed back into town, this time in the far right lane. I wasn’t about to get yelled at again for driving past a suitable breakfast place. Jaimie’s patience with looking for a restaurant wore thin after about three blocks and he directed me to pull over to the curb. He was going to ask somebody for directions to a restaurant. The old man that he asked told us to go to the old town section. There were many restaurants there and they mostly catered to tourists. So we took that turn off and found ourselves on picturesque, narrow cobblestone streets. Old town was really lovely and I negotiated our way through the maze of one way streets and found a lovely, large restaurant, open to the street. And a parking spot almost in front! Luck continued to be with us on this stretch of the journey.

No comments: