Friday, February 04, 2011

twelve o' clock high on the road to vallarta

The semi-shiftless Escape and I headed off to Puerto Vallarta early Wednesday morning.

To complete the trip that was cut short last March when I broke my right ankle.

A bookend trip if ever there was one.

But every trip to Puerto Vallarta is a bookend trip.  I start in the hills of La Manzanilla and end up in the hills of Mismaloya -- the Escape's transmission clattering in protest.  Along the way, cattle ranches and the occasional truck crops are tucked into the narrow coastal plain.

Whoever puts on these rural productions never fails to amuse me.  The highway is the sole north-south route on the Pacific coast.  An urban ribbon stretched through Mexican Green Acres.  And, though I have not yet seen Arnold the Pig, the highway always has an interesting mix of slickers and rubes.

You have probably read enough about driving in Mexico to know it is not like a spin through your neighborhood.  Unless, of course, your neighborhood is in Mexico.

I learned early on that defensive driving is not only a bad idea -- it simply increases the odds of having your name added to one of the shrines that add spots of color to our local highways.

Driving here requires the reflexes, mental discipline, and aggression of a fighter pilot.  Potential bogeys lie around every corner.  Literally.

Take a look at the photograph at the top of this blog.  Harmless?  Take another look.

The pickup bed is filled with balls of plastic wrap the size of bean bag chairs.

I should say it is filled with two fewer balls than when the pickup pulled out right in front of me while I was going 70 and it was going -- next to zero.

Earlier in the week I had a discussion with a friend.  He told me he thought the curriculum in most American high schools was too academic -- most of the subjects simply had no practical life application.

Apparently the pickup driver thought the same thing.  Ignoring whatever the laws of physics and aerodynamics might have to say about the topic, he stacked the light plastic balls beyond the top of his cab.

The first one launched my way nearly hit my right front bumper and then crazily careened to the left.  The driver did not notice.  At least that is what I assume -- because he sped up.

Sending the second volley my way -- partially unwinding in the process.  It came to rest in the middle of the southbound lane.  A nice little surprise for the next driver coming around a blind corner.

So, what's the big deal you ask?

I have had to unwind enough unintended lines from sail boat propellers to know what can happen when strings of anything come in contact with a spinning object.  Like an axle or a drive shaft.

But I made it safely to Puerto Vallarta -- with another tale under my belt.

For a bit of shopping and a pleasant visit at the Botanical Gardens (more on that later). 

Plus lunch with fellow bloggers.  And I bet you can guess who.


teresa freeburn said...

no, i can't guess! who? how long does it take from your place to p.v. i keep wishing i could come down. wish i could visit for spring break but with all the traveling we did last year, i have to hold off for a while. then again.....

Steve Cotton said...

It is about a four hour drive from Melaque. Come on down.

Steve Cotton said...

Just as one of the balls came at me, a garbage truck passed us going the other way. Trailing a line of garbage like Linus's little brother, Pigpen.

I don't want to change any of it. I simply enjoy seeing it happen. And I hope I never lose the ability to see the wonder of it all.

Kwallekno said...

I was ambushed by a crop spraying airplane while driving a 125,000 pound oilfield truck down the road. The windshield turned white in a blink of an eye. I think the fella forgot to turn off his sprayer when he came to the road. We were running in convoy, four trucks got painted, we all stayed on the road. Ya just never know...

Felipe Zapata said...

A garbage truck trailing garbage down the highway. A dimwit tossing bags of plastic hither and thither, not only littering the landscape but endangering other people's lives. And you "don't want to change any of it"? The "wonder of it all"? Steve, are you totally out of your mind? Have you started calling Mexico "paradise" yet? I don't recall.

These are not positive things you point to, amiguito. But you unintentionally hit the nail on the proverbial head with the one word: Pigpen.

Don Cuevas said...

I'm with Felipe on this.

Here in Michoacán, we have many Gringos who think it's all "magic". Believe me, it's not.

Don Cuevas

Al said...

I've unwound little nylon - usually fishing nets - from boat propellers myself.

When are you going to get that transmission fixed? Every time you start a blog with a mention of your truck, I think it is going to end with you being stranded.

KimG said...

Perhaps mañana?

You seem to be settling into Mexico nicely.



Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we keep thinking the same thing as Al.

Steve Cotton said...

I am enjoying almost every moment of my life down here. That is my cue to get out the door. It is a beautiful Saturday morning. Too beautiful to be sitting at the computer.

And, as you say, as far as the transmission goes, there is aleways mañana.