Monday, August 11, 2014

A Blast from the Past!

In looking for some old photos recently, I came across this one.  It's not really that old.  Maybe ten years old but it reminds me of what it used to be like when driving around Mexico and looking for gasoline! "No Fumar" was an important phrase.  It denoted that they had gasoline to sell.  Be it in an enclosure like this one, which was on the road to Ixtapa or in a tienda, that kept there containers of gasoline near the front door.

At the koffee klatch group this morning, a newbie is in town who just drove in from Texas.  He commented about the number of Pemex stations and the convenience. In the past, one could panic when on empty not knowing if or when the next station would be on the horizon.  In addition, the convenience of not going through any towns.

Ahhh, I assured him, it was not always that way.  In fact the road used to be two lane, not four lane divided highway.  In addition, the two lane went through towns that had no paved roads.  It was tricky, adventurous and interesting to attempt, as one drove in the ruts of the eighteen wheelers until one decided to make a turn.  It was all of the above as you maneuvered your tire up and over the ruts.  One had to really, really want to make a turn as it was not an easy operation.  Rainy seasons were nightmares.  Cars looked like they had just been pulled out of a mud pit.  Come to think of it, that's exactly what it was like.

So now, with bypasses and Pemex stations everywhere, no one needs to keep their tank half full all the time, or pray to find a bathroom soon or hope that the gasoline will be pure.

Heck, once I needed a bano so much,  that I stopped at a house, knocked on the door, whereupon they let me into the room and took me out the side door of the house to an outhouse where I could sit and watch the trucks driving by on the road.  No curtain, no nothing, except a seat to sit on!  Hilarious.

Another time, it was a curtain with a hole in the ground where a woman had to straddle the hole.  I've only done that once, thank you very much.  That was up in the mountains somewhere on a road that had NO shoulder.  Woo eee, that was an experience.  I wish I had photos of the bus in the bottom of the ravine and the eagles that were flying lower then the car.  "High up and dangerous" is not exaggerating that road. 

It was always important, or not, to kind of look at the gasoline in those clear plastic containers to see if it looked rather "clean" which is what they would say.  "Es muy limpio" was what they would tell me........"It is very clean."  Of course it was irrelevant at that point if it was regular or premium, it was gasoline!

No matter how far one was off the beaten track, there was, for some reason, Coca Cola!  Honestly, I figured those guys could have lead the greatest treks, cause they had always been everywhere!

It's fun to laugh at the past and have fond memories.  It's kinda sad that others won't have those experiences, but, the truth be told, I'm not as adventurous as I once was, so I'm glad there are nice Pemex stations with restaurants, restrooms and even gift shop areas in some.

Life is still an adventure at times, but not as much as before!



14 comments:

Kay Cox said...

Ohh...I do remember that trip through the mountains with me white-knuckled at the wheel and you screaming "I need to pee. Stop at the nearest bano. We did and you ran..God, but I was so glad to get off that mountain. Now we can laugh about it but it wasn't that funny at the time. Especially after seeing the bus in the tree tops at the side of the road. Aiiiyayaiii!

Christine said...

Oh Babs! YOu really are my hero!
I wish I could have traveled with you back in the day.

Babs said...

Indeed Kay, indeed. And then all the smoke coming out from under the van when we WERE stopped! It's amazing we're alive to tell the story.......

Babs said...

Christine - It WAS a trip! It still IS! ha.

Steve Cotton said...

And in another 20 years, Mexico will moved on to something quite different -- and all of our tales of today will sound quaint.

Retired Teacher said...

Well, since you are sharing "rest room" experiences... my most memorable experience along a Mexican highway was decades ago when I was with some friends driving through a rural area of Veracruz state. I had just been afflicted with Montezuma's Revenge, and I really needed to use the bathroom. The Mexican friend who was driving wanted to just stop along the road and let me go into the cornfield. But I insisted that I could wait until we got to the next town. We arrived in a little place called Rinconada, and I went to the building that served as the town's bus station. There was a toilet, but there was no water in the tank. No toilet paper either, although in those days I always traveled with a wad of paper in case of such a situation. In retrospect, I suppose that the proper thing to do would have been to ask for a bucket of water to put in the tank. But I was naïve and embarrassed, and we high-tailed it out of Rinconada when I was finished.

Babs said...

I remember the days of traveling with a roll of t.p. I'm still surprised that all the Pemex stations now have paper....but still no toilet seats in many places.
I had forgotten about having to ask for a bucket of water many times in the past.

Babs said...

Yes, Steve, but I won't be around to see it.
I think the last 15 years have shown the most change in my 40 years in Mexico......I'm grateful to have seen so much in the early days........

postcardsfromsanantonio said...

It did used to be challenging to find gas. My favorite out-of-gas experience was between Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas 30 years ago. We rented "Blanca," a beat-up, no-seat-belt VW bug with, what we'd wished we'd known when we started out, a faulty gas gauge. The drive to Palenque was well under half a tank, but we came up way short on the route back. Barefoot natives seemed to be the only ones passing for about two hours. Unfortunately, we did not know the word for gasoline in any of the dialects they spoke; no one spoke Spanish. But they had no need for gasoline anyway. They smiled and offered us avocados. Finally, a traveling salesman took pity on us, drove us to a small clump of houses on a dirt road, banged on a door and secured some gas from the resident who had jars of it in the back plugged with corncobs as stoppers....

Babs said...

OMG, that is the BEST story I've ever heard......that brings back OTHER memories. Weren't we lucky to have these experiences, although at the moment it didn't seem that way! THANKS so much for sharing.

Shannon said...

I like a good adventure as well as the next gal, but I sure do like knowing that there's always a Pemex Station around the corner somewhere when I'm on a road trip.

Babs said...

Shannon, luckily now you are assured there are more then you need!

Calypso said...

Things have definitely gotten more convenient in Mexico - that part can only get better (we hope ;-)

Abraham Yates said...

Running out of fuel is part of every road adventure. Just think how lucky we are that the number of gasoline stations today have increased for our convenience. Some of are even just a call away. In any way, thanks for sharing your experience with us! All the best to you!

Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company