Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thumbs Up

"Let's go to Km20 today and see if K's home," Big Dog suggested.

We are finally starting to get a bit more active, hiking up to the big overlook at the tip of the bay, walking over the hill to the next tiny bay... You have to time it right because it's so hot here.

What Big Dog really meant was "let's try to hitch a ride to Km20." We'd discovered how easy it was to hitchhike in this part of Mexico. The people here are friendly and helpful and the topes (speed bumps) at the entrance and exit to every town ensure a stream of slowing vehicles. Drivers can't pretend they really want to pick you up but are going too fast to stop in time.

Sure enough, in about 60 seconds from the time we get to the tope on the main highway, we're picked up by a pickup truck. The middle aged couple in the cab are headed for La Manzanilla, only a couple of kilometers from the Km20 milestone (kilometerstone?) A boy in the back makes sure their purchases (case of beer, several plastic bags with what looks like groceries) don't fly out.

I gripped the side of the truck bed to make sure I don't fly out. It's a little hairy, flying down the twisty road. Lanes are narrow, shoulders are few and cliffs are steep. Plus, the driver not only filled his tank with gas along the way, but a plastic container in the back. I pictured us flipping over into a ravine where I would be impaled on a tree branch, turned into a human kabob, soon to be seared to a crisp by the ignited gasoline. Maybe I'll be doused with the gasoline in the container, even before getting kabobbed.

Nothing like that happened, of course, or you wouldn't be hearing from me.

However, the truck drove us right into the town of La Manzanilla, so we had to work backwards: walk through the laid back little town, grab a bite, then walk a mile or two around the deserted bay to Boca de Iguanas (Mouth of the Iguanas!) where we could cut back into the jungle.

K and J, two guys we met last winter, live in a small complex deep in the lushly vegetated area between the bay and the highway. There are giant banyan-like trees, soaring smoothly upwards. Along with the all-pervasive coconut palms, there are elegantly erect royal palms. Bananas, papayas, all kind of vines and shrubs fill the spaces in between.

There's not a whole lot out here. We were able to get a couple of beers at a small abarotte (minimart) near the beach, but unlike the abarottes in real towns, this one was poorly stocked. God help you if you find yourself out here with a toilet paper emergency! (Guess you could always try out the banana leaf..) But it would still be my choice location if I were to ever move here. The peaceful quiet, the isolation, the lushness once you come in from the bay, all appeal to me.

Our friends were both out working, so after a cruise through their complex we headed towards the highway.

"It's going to be harder getting a ride here," grumbled Big Dog. "I knew we should have done it the other way. Or walk back around the bay to La Manza."

I had to admit, he was right. The vehicles were all zooming past. We had to perch precariously on the edge of cliffs when large trucks whizzed by. We'd been walking for hours non-stop and I was getting tired.

"Well, a bus should come by eventually," I thought, "and in the worse case, we'd walk 20 kilometers. It's doable." But somehow the kilometers seemed longer here. It was forever before we came to the Km19 marker, and even longer to the Km18 marker...where, to our relief, a water vendor truck stopped for us.

"Gracias! Gracias!" we sighed our thanks to the driver who let us into his cab.

By then, we had learned our lesson of the day: Hitchhiking is easy...IF you're at a tope.

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Blogger GoodbyeCityLife said...

I'm glad you found me again -- I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog. In another life I would love to be such an adventurer as you. Best wishes for the holidays,

8:10 PM  
Blogger bad-dog said...

Thanks! I love your blog and am happy to see you've turned it into a book. I'm going to order one as soon as I get back to the States.

3:30 PM  

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