When I was a Cub Scout, earning badges was my passion. Those gold arrow heads meant a lot to me. If I had been a medieval warrior, I have no doubt I would have been multi-titled.
In my Cub days, I would pester my Dad to drive me around in our red and white Ford station wagon and teach me how to identify models of cars (when a Buick didn’t look like a Chevrolet that looked like a Chrysler) or animals or rock formations. To this day, a lot of that lore is stuck in my memory filing drawers. With an out-dated operating system for retrieval.
But we now live in a different world. If I still wore the Cub blue and gold, I would have earned a far more contemporary badge yesterday for visiting multiple ecosystems in one day. Mexpatriate, after all, is a green lot.
I have always been amazed at the number of contrasting environments between Melaque and Puerto Vallarta. After all, it is only a four hour drive -- all of it along the Pacific coast. But different it is. So different that the rumored father of Princess Diana has preserved a section as a protected biosphere reserve.
On the drive, there are jungles, hills, alluvial plains, mountains, and even a desert in the rain shadow of coastal mountains. What you will not see (except in brief strip tease glimpses) is the ocean or its beaches.
And this time of year, it is at its best when it gets its growth spurt following the onset of our summer rains. It is hard to believe that there are that many shades of green. Or that the area surrounding the road is filled with snakes, iguana, lizards, rabbits, foxes, cotimundi, opossum, and raccoon – at least, as evidenced by their road kill kin.
I have said it before; I will say it again. Mexico is a country on its way up. Nothing exemplifies that better than road construction.
The stretch of Highway 200 I ran on Tuesday is abuzz with paving equipment. I cannot give you a percentage, but a large portion of the road is either being widened or re-paved. More the former than the latter.
I have been told that the federal and state governments have designated a bargeful of pesos to turn this major commercial artery into a 4-lane highway. It looks as if that is happening. At least, in some places.
It is never a good idea to drive at night in Mexico. There are just too many surprises in the dark. Anyone who wants to ignore that advice with the current condition of Highway 200 could almost be guaranteed a bit of body work -- at least. There are plenty of unmarked drop-offs and lightly regulated traffic flow to spice up a day drive. Let alone at night.
So, that was my day. Diverse environments. Exciting obstructions. And, lest I forget, a visit to one of the world’s great deserts north of the border.
After a day of driving and flying, I am in Arizona.
Not bad for a much-older Scout still looking to earn some new badges.