Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 3

Saturday morning in Ciudad del Carmen, we had a nice little sleep in. We actually took time to go to a restaurant and have a decent breakfast. Our original goal was to head across the Gulf and stay the night in Acayucan before dropping down to Oaxaca.

The car all loaded and everybody in their place, off we went. The road was very familiar to me by this time. This was the fifth time I had driven this particular stretch of MX 180 along the Gulf. I knew what was to come for the most part, no surprises. Not even the giant bridge at Frontera held any fear for me this time. Frontera is where we cross from Campeche state into Tabasco state. My biggest concern was getting through Villahermosa.

If you will recall, Villahermos is where we got lost on our first driving trip, mostly because B decided to be a sight-seer instead of a navigator. We got hopelessly lost that time and I ended up putting a pretty good dent in our brand new car. That was also the scene of our biggest fight on the road. So, I was dreading going through that town again. And sure enough, we did have a very small problem.

Signage in Mexico, if it exists, is very poor, to say the least. Signs will lead you along and then just vanish, never to be seen again. Sort of like “Oh, it’s in this general direction, just drive along here for awhile” kind of thing. If you really want to find out about Mexican signage, go here.

We needed to look for signs directing us to the city of Heroica Cardenas, the next big town on our way to Acayucan where we planned to spend our second night on the road. I had a vague memory of an overpass and that we should turn at that. I saw the overpass as we entered town and instructed B and L to watch for signs to Heroica Cardenas or MX 180. Or maybe Minatitlan or even Acayucan or Veracruz. Any of those would take us in the right direction. We sailed under the overpass with no sign in sight. After going about four blocks, L decided that the better course here was to pull over and he would jump out and ask a taxi driver for directions. We did not want to get too deep into the city before doing this. L if very fluent in Spanish and handy to have along! Sure enough, the taxi driver told us to turn around and just after we went under the overpass to turn left. That would put us back on MX 180 in the right direction. So turn around I did and made the left turn. As I turned the corner, there in front of us, about mid-block was the sign we had been looking for. Is it just me, or would it have been better to put it at the intersection to inform drivers which way to turn?

We were making excellent time and approached Acayucan hours before we thought we would. We consulted the map and decided that we still had enough time to change our plans and keep driving. We never drive after dark if we can help it, sometimes stopping hours before hand if we don’t think we can make it to a city with hotels before dark. We decided to exit onto MX 175, which leads directly into Oaxaca. We figured we had enough daylight left to make it as far as Tuxtepec. So with no more discussion about it, we exited the freeway system and entered onto our first secondary road of the trip.

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