Thursday, June 1, 2023

At The Crossroads

Parked downtown in another ancient town while we
figure out how to navigate the  narrow streets.
Google Maps will not help you now!

The discussion this morning went like this, "I'm glad we're here, but I wouldn't do that again, at least the way we did it." I wouldn't come down the coast of Mexico in May, pulling a trailer an average of every other day, and not stopping for long. It's brutal, it's hot, we're exhausted and bug bitten, and we won't do that again. This is the time for such statements, because that part of our trip is over.

We're at the edge of the cultural zone of Mexico we've been trying to reach. We've somewhat arrived at our destination. There's still a lot of driving to do, but it's generally interspersed with a week or longer of staying put, and in more temperate climates. It is damn hot and humid today, there's a bit of ash falling from the sky, probably from jungle fires. The bugs will stay away if there's another ocean breeze like yesterday. 

Our high end trailer park is mostly deserted because of this. All of this discomfort is what makes it "off season." It doesn't just suck because the pampered American says so, it kinda objectively sucks. I'm glad to be here though! Again, this is a good time to reflect, because we soon leave for a better climate.

We are at a crossroads, both because we've finished our long trek south (north is another matter), and we need to decide where to go next. There is a ring road of interesting cultural towns and we are at the far left of that ring, with plans to end up on the right side. We aren't visiting the entire ring, so we have to choose the northern or southern route. It's a hard choice.

Northern route or Southern route?

The northern route has some rough jungle roads, some amazing cultural towns with crafts and museums, and Tequila. The town of Tequila is considered one of the top sites to visit in Mexico, both a UNESCO World Heritage region and a Pueblo Magico. But really, is it that great if you don't care about Tequila? It's important to Mexican culture, but it's not important to us. Still, the northern route is about equal in cultural interest in other ways to the southern.

The southern route gets us higher in elevation to "the place of deer and snakes," the inexplicably short translation for the Nahuatl word Amaxacotlán. The rural town is shortened to Mascota, and was the cultural seat of the region, pretty much since people settled there. In case you were confused, Mascota also means "pet" in Spanish. Here we find petroglyphs, Olmec artifacts, natural beauty and some pretty little towns. 

In both locations there are no RV parks, so we're going to be calling farming estates who offer tourist rooms and asking if we can park in their fields. It's going to be hot there, and ideally we would have electrical hookups for air conditioning, but we can go a day or two off grid with AC, with our specialized electrical set ups. It's the equivalent of Mexican Harvest Hosts. In both locations, the roads are treacherous, winding, pot holed, under construction, and slow. 

We are at a crossroads, but both choices are good, and challenging. We are also at a crossroads because we are exhausted and need several more days to decompress. The drive through the jungle yesterday was about two hours and it tested my nerves. 

Imagine two lane roads, with no shoulders, the jungle encroaching on both sides, often creating a tunnel of green. The roads climb and dip across the terrain and pot holes lead to dangerous swerving. The suggested speed is about 35 mph, but through the interspersed towns with their topes (speed bumps), I found the ideal speed is four miles per hour. I'm attempting to have some mechanical sympathy towing my trailer, but we still arrive with repairs to be made. 

We shall rest at the crossroads and consider our options. Which way would you go?

Bathroom door track pulled out from its mount.
We visited the three hardware stores in town
to find the right screws so I could put it back up.
The biggest store had no lights, so we squinted to find the
right screws, that were mis-bagged, against a chart on the counter.  
The track was a known problem spot when I got the trailer.

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