Monday, August 6, 2007

Driving the Jeep to Mexico - Part 8

Shortly after leaving Matamoras, we reached the turn off for M180 and I was quite blissful that we had finally entered our route home. No accidents, no problems and nice road so far. The road led us further inland and we climbed gentle hills, one after the other until we were quite high but not yet at any mountains. The vistas were stupendous and we could see mountains in the distance. I was not concerned. I thought that M180 was all coastal and flat. We eventually reached the turn off for Tampico, which was only another 180 miles. I turned on to the road and immediately said a small prayer that the road was not like this all the way to Tampico. Narrow does not quite convey the right image. It was probably comparable to 1.5 our lane sizes. In places the road dropped off several yards with no shoulders. It was a series of twisting turns and long straight aways that continued to lead us higher and higher. Passing an approaching vehicle was a wheel gripping, gut wrenching experience. Cars were not such a problem though. It was the multitude of buses and semi trucks that gave me the concern. Add my stress sweat to the already hot climate and I was soaked. In between approaching vehicles, there was some beautiful countryside.

The area is covered with mostly cactus and small trees with great open areas. This is the big farm region with haciendas dotted here and there. Miles from any form of civilization. I wondered how they survived. Where did they go to get groceries? Did they ever get lonely? Jaimie said that most of them had gas generators so they had some form of electricity and refrigeration available to them. He thought that they were quite rich because of all the land they owned. We saw some livestock, mostly skinny sheep and tons and tons of goats. A few of the Brahma cows and some skinny horses and burros tied to the edge of the road where grazing was best. I gave them all wide berth. Well, as wide as I could, given the road we were on!

The road continued as described all the way to Tampico. I really had no idea that the coastal area of Mexico was so mountainous. Jaimie loved them, having never seen one or traveled through any. I thought they were a giant pain in the ass in my 4 cylinder Jeep! Occasionally I had to pass a bus or truck and it took miles and miles to get to an area that I could both see far enough ahead and could get up enough speed to get around them. We eventually descended into the valley and the flat plains that led to Tampico and we could see it in the distance.

From our vantage point, it reminded me exactly of Corpus Christi. Complete with the giant refinery dominating the skyline. Since it was only 6pm and we had the promise of at least three more hours of daylight, we decided to press on.

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