Friday morning and we ambled back to the restaurant complex for an early breakfast. Then back to the hotel, check out and we are once again on our way. On our way of course meant tackling the bridge at this end of the island. Piece of cake. Did not bother me at all. Probably because B was driving! We then turned right and were once again on the coastal road heading out of town and putting the island behind us.
Today we planned to get all the way to Catemaco so it was going to be another long day. We would be traveling 300 miles today and none of it on freeway. Secondary roads in Mexico are always a guess. Sometimes they are as good as the freeways and you can easily travel at 70 mph. But most of the time they are in disrepair, bumpy and slow. It is difficult to even average 50 mph. So we figured we had about 6 hours to drive. I know that doesn't sound like much, but believe me, after fighting the roads, other drivers, crawling along behind buses and semi-trailers, one is exhausted after that long behind the wheel.
The road led us away from the Gulf proper but we passed many beautiful lakes and rivers which were actually extensions of the bay behind the island. Just past Nuevo Campechito we crossed the border into the state of Tabasco. This was to be our first experience with being stopped and searched by the military patrols at the border crossings. It is quite intimidating to have a soldier with a machine gun wave you over to the inspection point where more soldiers wielding machine guns are waiting. They did not want to see our passports or any papers at all. They ordered us out of the car and made me open the hood. They looked around in there for a bit, had me close it and motioned us on our way. I found it very strange and scary too. I have heard so many horror stories down here of getting pulled over for inspection and having the inspector mysteriously "find" drugs hidden in your car. All in an attempt to elicit a bribe. Needless to say, I stood right in front of the car and actually peered under the hood with them! I don't know what they thought but I was not going to look away for a second so that could plant drugs in my car! Paranoid? Maybe, but better safe than sorry.
At Frontera I had to face another challenge. This is where the bridge is located that seems to rise straight into the sky, flatten out over the river and then descend just as sharply on the other side. By this time, we had switched drivers again so I couldn't just close my eyes until it was behind us! I knew it would be coming because so far we had been backtracking the same road that Jaimie and I had traveled. I don't know why, but I think maybe because B was in the car with me, but it just did not seem that bad this time. This type of thing doesn't bother him at all and his calmness was contagious.
Crossing Tabasco state is never an easy matter. I think it is possibly the hottest state in Mexico. We broke down and turned on the air conditioning but even on high it barely changed the temperature in the car. Tabasco is flat with hardly any interesting topography along this highway at all. At least we were a little late for the fire burning season so we did not encounter any brush fires like I did last time. I was very grateful for that! In fact the most interesting thing we saw along this stretch of road was a dead, badly bloated horse on the side of the road. It looked like somebody had blown up a huge horse shaped balloon with the legs sticking straight up in the air. Gross!
We were heading towards Villahermosa, the largest city in the state of Tabasco. Mostly because we had no choice. MX 180 runs right through it. It was scheduled to be one of our stops on the route back to the island. For now we just needed to get through it to continue on our way.
I do not have pleasant memories of Villahermosa. That is where our first big travel fight and "accident" occurred. Everything was going fine and we were proceeding through the city with no problems at all. Until we got to the Y. Two nice lanes went to the right, two nice lanes went to the left. I asked my navigator which way. "I don't know" he replied. I had a split second to make a decision and I chose left, which turned out to be wrong, of course. Then came the blow up. I looked over at him and he didn't even have the map open for the city! I guess he was too busy looking at the scenery or something and forgot he needed to navigate! Believe me, when the smoke cleared in the car, he had the map open! But we had no idea where on the map we were. I pulled over multiple times and we tried to locate the last or next cross street on the map. No luck. So I kept driving around. In deadly silence, jaws clenched. All of you who have travelled with partners know what I am talking about! Finally, I turned down a street, which led us to a right turn only street which was a dead end at the bottom of a hill! A few words were exchanged and I very angrily negotiated a three point turn. Except that the second point ended with a post in my back bumper! I couldn't even be bothered to get out to look at the damage to our new car. I was that angry. Since I am back home writing this, you can probably figure out that we did make it out of Villahermosa. Forty-five minutes after we entered it, there miraculously appeared a sign for MX 180. We followed it and were safely, but not merrily, on our way again.
Because we had such a horrid experience there, we decided to cross it off our list of places to visit this trip. We had both seen enough of it!