Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Car Trip 33

Saturday morning and we were up kind of earlyish. We wanted to have a nice breakfast before heading out on the road again. We planned to make it to Acayucan today, just for the one night on our return trip home.

Just down the street from our hotel was another one. The prices here were higher than the Holiday Inn. It looked to be an older, more classic type place. We peeked into the windows of the attached restaurant, which fronted the street. It was very well appointed and the menu looked ok so in we went. It was not what we expected. The service was terrible. We were virtually ignored the whole time. We had to signal the waiter every time we wanted something. And then wait and wait again for him to finally bring it. And the food was not exceptional either. We did not seem to have good luck at any of the posher, more ritzy restaurants anywhere on the trip. The best food we had was at little diners and side street, out of the way restaurants. I don’t think we will ever bother with trying to eat at a fancy place again. Just good plain Mexican food for us.

Our route today was going to be around 600 miles. On the Atlas, it appeared to be freeway all the way. A welcome change from all that mountain driving! We would be following MX150 all the way to Cordoba and just past there switch to MX 145 all the way to the Acayucan cut off.
With L navigating us once again, we negotiated our way out of Puebla and found the entrance to the freeway with no problem. The road was nice and flat for quite awhile but then started a gentle sloping. Not a lot of turns but one could tell we were ascending again. Well, back into the Sierra Madres for awhile!

It wasn’t long before we could truly tell we were back into the mountains. The drop offs were getting steeper and steeper. No guardrails of course. As if one needed any incentive to be careful on this road. The numerous crosses and memorials people had put up along the road were quite sobering.

We reached what appeared to be the summit of this particular little range we were trying to get over. We flattened out for just a bit and then, like a roller coaster, started our descent down the other side. All went well until we rounded one corner. Up ahead the traffic was at a dead stop. Once I caught up to them and came to a stop behind a bus, I could see that as far ahead as I could see, cars were all lined up and stopped. We inched our way forward, me in neutral and riding the brake the entire time. When we were about in the middle of the downward sloping curve, I could see the road ahead all the way to the bottom. It would appear and reappear as it meandered its' way down the mountain. I could even see down below me the road we had to take....once we got to it! It was going to take quite awhile. Cars, buses, minivans and trucks were all piled up, riding each others' bumpers as far as I could see. And it was hot! Very hot that day. No breeze at all. We had all the windows down but were suffering. At least when driving, some breeze is generated. I did not dare close the windows and turn on the air conditioning. I did not want to risk overheating and becoming stranded!

We finally reached the scene of the accident that had slowed everybody down. It appeared that a semi had tried to take this last, sharp corner a little too fast. It was jack knifed and lying on its’ side in the ditch. It had been carrying a load of flattened cardboard boxes and they were strewn everywhere. Police were trying to clean it up and still direct traffic safely around it. The only difference between this accident and the traffic tie ups that you have probably all experienced, is that at least the scenery was great!

This was to be our last stretch of real mountains. We had some large hills to cross on our way back towards sea level and the coast. For the most part though, heavy duty mountain driving was a thing of the past and I was very glad for that. As we flattened out, the landscape gradually changed and became drier, dustier and the vegetation was definitely taking on a brown appearance. And it was getting hotter and hotter. We thought at first that we had been in the high mountain desert atmosphere for too long and were not used to the heat of the lowlands. We had just had two glorious weeks of warm days and cool nights. But now it just kept getting hotter. I have a thermometer that I keep in the car. I like to know the temperature around me at all times. Just a stupid quirk. When it said the temperature inside the car was 110 degrees, we thought it time to roll up the windows and turn on the air. An hour later and we were still sweltering at over 100 degrees. We just gave up and rolled the windows down again. Fresh air is always better, even if it is hot.

We reached our junction for Acayucan and left the nice freeway system behind. We were now traveling the same road B and I had taken two weeks earlier on our way to Catemaco. It seemed strange, like we were backtracking or going around in circles. We had not actually entered the town though, we just went by it. This time we had to go right downtown. At first glance Acayucan had all the charm of any other crowded, dirty, slightly dangerous feeling town. We decided not to spend a lot of time checking out hotels here. It was 5 pm, we had been on the road for over 6 hours and we needed a shower badly! All that heat in the car had tested the protective power of our deodorants! We found a very pleasant hotel, which had a restaurant attached open 24 hours a day. This would be great tomorrow morning. We were surprised to get such a nice room on the fourth floor so cheaply. There was a sign in the lobby proclaiming that this hotel had achieved a four star rating. I wondered from whom. But it truly was a nice hotel. Clean, safe and up to date.

Our room had a little balcony with a sliding door. I noticed the tree tops blowing quite hard outside so I opened up the door, thinking there would be a nice breeze. What I got was a blast of hot air full in the face! The heat outside was still incredible and the wind was carrying the heat around, dispersing it even more. I quickly shut the door and retreated back into the safety of our pleasantly air conditioned room.

We found a nice little restaurant just off the town square. We had a quick dinner and decided to have a look see at the town. We could see the town square a block away from our hotel. It appeared that something special was going on there. It didn’t take long to figure out what the hubbub was all about. Today was Day of the Children in Mexico and this was part of the celebration. We wandered around a little bit, had a snack from the vendors and made our way to the other side of the square.

Lining the entire block and filling the sidewalk on that side of the square were all of the guys selling black market videos, DVDs and CDs. Or maybe not black market, but definitely copies. We bought a few discografias. These are compilation CDs and include every album, CD or song ever released by the artist. They usually contain all the words to the songs and pictures of every album cover also. You have to put them in your computer to see them. They are all, of course, done in MP3 format. You really get a bang for your buck since they charge from $3-5 US.

Even though it was still relatively early, we decided we had enough for one night and returned to our air conditioned room and called it a day.

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