Saturday, September 10, 2005

Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico

Hotel Hacienda Xanath

$40 doesn’t get you much here, but approaching 9:00 p.m. I was getting desperate. The hotel is old and worn and has a strange smell. First tried the "Fiesta Hotel", but the $89 price tag was far too much.

But two cold "Sol" beers for about $1.30 help ease the pain. No TV. No internet. No phone. Wrote some notes, then to bed.

About 205 miles traveled yesterday and another 250 today. Difficult miles.

***

A tough day of riding, starting out about 11:30. This for me is not a pleasant country to cross. Very impoverished and generally filthy conditions. Life seems a struggle for most.

At the "Pemex" gas station in Victoria, my attendant tried to short change me twenty pesos. A big English-speaking fellow came over to see what the trouble was. The attendant first handed me the additional twenty, then explained (why he was ripping me off?)

“Is this typical in service stations?” I asked the manager.

“He’s on the hit list. You have to be careful.”

Haven’t been forced to deal with a public toilet yet; dreading when that time comes!

Passed the "Tropic of Cancer" just south of Ciudad Victoria..

Amazing, the populations of butterflies in the plains southeast of Victoria; all types, sizes and colors. On my motorcycle, I spread a path of destruction among them.

In Zaragoza, I stopped for a kind of a strawberry drink and some thin sesame cookies. Down the road, I came upon two separate truck crashes; one, a big tanker jack-knifed off the road, the cab destroyed.

In Gonzales, I was pulled over by a policeman. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No just wanted to check documents.” (Fortunately, I was now correctly documented!)

At Tampico, I paid $22 pesos for a ridiculous toll road – slow and gravelly. Adding insult to injury, the bridge to get out of town was another $26 pesos. I was lost in Tampico for an hour. Saw the old Mercado, and drove amidst throngs of shoppers, which I hadn’t really planned to do.

What a day! Ending with the landscape really becoming tropical south of Tampico. The highway would slow in little towns and be lined with lighted stalls on both sides, bananas and coconuts hanging in abundance. Families out waiting for customers, but who are they?

The topes are also found in abundance. Some are steel inverted bowls - very unforgiving on the wheels. Others are typical speed bumps, and yet others, patches of torn up road. They bring traffic, especially trucks, to a screeching halt. Then the kids attack, with bottles of water, fruit, cookies, trinkets; trying to turn a momentary opportunity into a sale.

On Mexico Highway 180, south of Tampico, the pavement was at first very good, then became pocked with pot holes. Drivers maneuvered erratically to avoid them. Pretty tricky when you’re all following close together.

The craziness of drivers didn’t subside with nightfall. Truck drivers are as bad as those in cars. Driving the local highways in the dark is definitely inadvisable. Less than an hour of it, and I was ready to stop.

Very humid and clouds threatened rain, but never delivered. Some lightning to the south as I arrived in Poza Rica. Everyone says it has been raining steadily.

Missing my former life and its simplicity: my coffee, town, visiting my daughter and friends, my refuge in the woods. This life is challenging. Nothing is comfortable.

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