Wednesday, April 10, 2013
on the road with the brothers glib
Every good road trip needs a good road. And Mexico serves them up complete with garnish.
There are two major routes to begin a trip north from Melaque. Head south through Manzanillo and take the cuota (toll road) to Guadalajara -- and then steer north. The alternative is to drive the coast road north through Puerto Vallarta and join the cuota at Tepic.
I have always driven the coast road. Not only does it have beautiful scenery, but the hill portions of the road make you wish you could don leathers and mount a Norton. Driving the Escape simply does not fill out the dream. But it is good enough.
Darrel and I left Puerto Vallarta around 7 AM and enjoyed the coast road for most of the morning. I had fun practicing my power on curve technique. My brother would probably give me a "C."
But, it was at Tepic that we really got serious about driving. Mexico's toll roads are some of the best in the world. And they seem to be constantly under renovation.
That is a good sign. Just look at California's freeways to get a good idea what can happen when the maintenance carousel comes to a stop.
Even though most of the toll roads are posted at 100 or 110 kpm, the average speed is much higher. It is not unusual to be passed by an expensive car going at least 100 miles per hour.
After 12 hours of driving, I pulled over in Navojoa (in Sonora) for the night -- just as the sun went down. No driving at night in Sonora for me. We will be on our way between 6 and 7 tomorrow morning.
Like most road trips, this one is not inexpensive. For the two days we have been on the road, we have paid $896 (Mx) ($73 US) in tolls; $2501 (Mx) ($205 US) for motels; $2165 (Mx) ($177 US) for gasoline; and $1046 (Mx) ($86 US) for food.
And this is just day two. We still have approximately four or five days ahead of us before we get to Bend.
But that is simply money. What it cannot buy is the joy of this trip.
The feeling that I have just spent a full day on the equivalent of an autobahn -- complete with being passed by automobiles I could never afford.
The contradiction of multiple police, army, and fruit inspections along the way that balance out the efficiency of driving on the cuota.
Of course, there are the humorous moments such as a semi, having passed the fruit inspection, driving through (and snapping) the station's security barrier.
But my favorite was our brief rest stop at an Oxxo. A tour bus, several Federal Police vehicles, and a line of circus trucks had all stopped at the same time. And the Oxxo was filled.
Beautiful girls in shorts. Armed policemen. Tattooed carnies. It could have been a moment out of a Robert Rodriguez film. We quickly moved on before the clerks turned into vampires -- or before El Mariachi showed up.
And now -- it is time for bed. There will undoubtedly be similar scenarios just down the road.