Monday, March 30, 2009

The White Knuckled Drive Through The Mountains

Kay Cox in her comments about "Sarah" Bernhardt mentioned my drama on the white knuckled drive through the mountains. I had pretty much forgotten this adventure so I think, for a little laughter, I'll share it with you. It's funny now - not so much ten years ago!

Kay and I had traveled quite a bit in Mexico together as her husband was too busy keeping all the astronauts in place at NASA and the Space Station aloft or whatever the heck he was in charge of. He was waaaaay too busy back then to travel to Mexico - so we took off on several trips. Kay was with me here in San Miguel when I finally "got" what San Miguel was about - after three visits - and thought I might enjoy living here. I certainly didn't "get it" before that on other trips.

So, we came down, rented a house for a month, I think, while she took watercolor classes with a well known instructor at Bellas Artes and I did what I do best - nothing but wander the streets and meet people. Locals. You have to get to the "locals" before you can get San Miguel - preferably someone who had been here since the 50's and was very eccentric. My kind of people.

Ah, but I digress. So, when we got ready to head back to Texas I made the silly statement, "Aw heck, let's not go back the way we know, let's try a new route, a little adventure!" YIKES.

So someone, who will remain nameless, assured us that the way back OVER the Sierra Madres going Northeast was as fast as going up through Laredo. LIAR! But, heck what did we know? So off we went in Kay's "hippie van" that had plastic grass and fir trees and nodding heads all glued on the dashboard with fuzzy dice (I think) hanging from the mirror. I KNOW something was hanging from the mirror. Kay driving............

We got near San Luis Potosi and took the exit. It headed toward Ciudad Victoria. Well, that's what the sign said. What it didn't say was that we were going to hit at least 1000 switchbacks (NO I'm not being dramatic) and climb and descend and then climb and descend and at one point have hawks and buzzards flying beneath us.

OK, that wouldn't have been so bad except there was absolutely no shoulder. The bus flying over the cliff and down into the ravine not more then five minutes before we got there didn't help either. Add to that that I needed a bano, bad - really, really bad - and there was no place to pull over.

I don't know how long this went on. It was like a Chinese water torture test. Me squealing as the hippie van took the curves - holding on for dear life to the door handle as Kay drove..........

Of course, on a two lane road, there are zillions of buses and trucks. Not to mention the occasional cart pulled by mules. I needed a bano.

Ah, finally, finally, there was a little expansion of soil and a place to stop. A woman was cooking with a pit. I yelled for Kay to stop and before she could turn the motor off, I was out of the van yelling, "Bano, bano" and obviously, this had happened before because the woman pointed to a commode, just a hole..........who cares? Relief.

I came out from behind the curtain and noticed smoke surrounding the van with Kay still in it. A trucker came over and told us it was the brakes cause we didn't know to downshift...........

There are no words to tell you how happy we were when we saw the outskirts of Ciudad Victoria. It was flat land - just about as flat as Flatonia Texas - if not more so. We marveled at the flatness and the shoulder on the road from Ciudad Victoria all the way to the border. Just wonderful boring grass flatlands..........

People tell me there is now a bypass and new cuota through Ciudad Victoria and that it is faster then going up to Laredo. There is no way in this world I'm ever, ever going to believe them. I'll take the same simple nonadventurous drive through the Columbia Bridge exit and never look for "adventure" while driving again. I promise.

Other "adventures" with Kay have come to mind while I was writing this - I'll share them in the future........all hilarious.


1st Mate said...

The Sierra Madres must be one big mess of mountains, because we just drove the coastal part and you're right about the 1000 switchbacks!

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- Great tale well told. I wait with bated breath for your further adventures.

Islagringo said...

As you now know, one does not have to go searching for adventure down here. It has a way of finding you! Having driven countless numbers of switchbacks down here, I can sure identify with this story! (but not the bano part. I just use a pop can!)

maria luz said...

Great story!!

Kay sounds a lot like me. I was always the one driving the SUV at breakneck speed up and down the mountain at Ski Ruidoso. My friend was the one with the white knuckles. I was just the fool behind the wheel. Piece of cake.

Babs, since we are moving to Tequisquiapan, about an hour from you, I would like to know more about that new cuota to Cuidad Victoria. There will be times when we will want to go to the Valley and South Padre for R*R and shopping ventures. I can't find a map that shows it.

maria luz

Babs said...

Ah, I have a million stories like that - some that CAN'T be told, ha.
Well First Mate there are the Sierra Madres Sur and Sierra Madres Norte - the Nortes are the ones that had me white knuckled.

Maria Luz - I would think you would go up through Rio Verde to hook up with the "cuota". I'll let you know when I get my Guia roja map back.....And then YOU can test it out and let me know.

Tequisquiapan is a sweet village. It has changed a LOT since I first went there close to 20 years ago. A LOT!

Kay Cox said...

Well, Babs, you told it well but you left out being stopped on a mountain top by the federales holding machine guns. You told me to just keep smiling and saying "Buenas dias" which I did no matter what the soldier said to me. He finally indicated he wanted to look in the back of the van which was so loaded we could have had a dead body back there but fortunately didn't. After another "Buenos dias" he threw up his hands and waved us on. Would love to have understood what all they were saying about the crazy American ladies. Geez, we hauled all that crap to Houston and half of it you hauled back to Mexico a couple of years later. Go figure!

Babs said...

Geez Kay, I've been stopped by the federales so many times that I don't even keep that in my mind.