We again drove away from the coast and back into the mountains. Had I taken the time to really study the map, I would have stayed in Tampico. But we figured we could find a hotel in a small town somewhere along the way. Hopefully one with secure parking. This proved to be quite an adventure in itself! The next largest city on the map looked to be a place called Naranjos. Since this looked like the Spanish word for orange, I quickly named it Orange Juice City, which Jaimie found strangely hilarious.
It was in these mountains south of Tampico that we first stated to notice the fires. Slash and burn everywhere. They appeared to be set on purpose to clear areas but we never saw any people around. They were all unattended, just left to burn. I never did find out what they were going to plant.
So around and around we went through some gorgeous scenery and breathtaking views. The roads constantly changed in quality. For awhile they were smooth and free flowing and I was being passed constantly. Speed limit signs, it appeared to me, were regarded as merely a suggestion here. Then we entered into a twisty section with signs for dangerous curves, all of which were ignored by vehicles wanting to pass each other. More than once I had to apply the brakes and downshift to avoid a head-on or being forced off the road by some bozo passing on a blind curve.
We passed through many little villages. Mexico 180 was the main street running through most of them. Every town had a series of “topes”, or speed bumps. These things are serious and one had better proceed over them slowly or risk a broken axle. Some towns specialize in “vibradors”, or the series of small bumps that shake your teeth loose if you go over them too fast. Some towns just couldn’t decide and used both!
At every speed bump we were met by either people trying to sell whatever that area specialized in, or school children seeking donations for something. One has to wonder, if there are three speed bumps in town, what makes these people think that a person would want to buy oranges or whatever at each one? Hope springs eternal I guess. This phenomenon of using speed bumps as roadside stands or charity begging was consistent thought-out the trip and not just on this leg. I eventually started playing games with these people as we passed them. After all, they were the ones sticking their faces in my window uninvited. My favorite was to pretend to reach into the bucket the school children wee pushing into my face and take some money out. Boy, they sure did jerk that bucket back out the window fast! Jaimie said the heat must be making me crazy and I was not going to argue!