Paranoid and Down to Fumes . . .

Today, the repulsive collides with the sublime. I suspect that happens somewhere everyday, but I post this some 36 hours later still muddled from the experience.

The ride seemed to compress forty years of riding into one day. What came to me were moments of awe, terror, boredom and relaxation. Also, transcendent beauty and extreme ugliness. In the early morning my nose unearthed tantalizing desert smells, a mixture of burnt grass incense, sea salt, cacti and a tincture of whatever the vultures fancied. As I twisted far up then down then more up into the mountains, the desert smells were replaced by sweet green tropical scents and, if possible, cloud dew. By evening I came back down to the urban sprawl and everything turned to a sulfury burnt plastic stench.

There were times when the landscape was so overwhelmingly beautiful it seemed as if the old neuro-pathways couldn't cope with the input. There were also moments when the impact of the industrial wasteland lobotomized my sensory impressions.

What a day.

At dawn I walked the streets of Pijijiapan; my intention was to stay and explore the place. After all, how could a place named with such a jumble of dotted vowels and consonants be anything but interesting? However, my impressions of that small city turned out to be less than positive. Walking the streets during sunrise, it was as if Pijijiapan was having as much difficulty digesting me as I was pronouncing it. Perhaps it was the time of day, I must have looked odd and uniquely without purpose. Even the ubiquitous roosters had a job to do. Or, maybe it was something more sinister. Regardless, what lurked in the shadows started to spook me. As it turns out, it wasn't the first time that day I felt confused and stupid.

I made a beeline through the squalor back to the incongruously pleasant hotel and made a quick exit. Maybe it was the lack of a focused departure, but when I packed up and rode out of Pijijiapan I had no firm sense of a destination. Maybe it was something I ate. Maybe I had soul issues, but the only word that can describe the day from that moment on is kaleidoscopic.

From the sand blasted desert to the mountains to the lush tropical green of the damp jungle-like valleys to the toxic industrialized urban sprawl. From beautiful smooth twisty perfect roads to pothole-hell and the nightmares of relentless Federal Police searches. To get burned so badly and healed so well in one day is beyond my understanding – but, it happened anyway.

Okay, let's get this out of the way. Running out of fuel was my fault; it was a stupid miscalculation. Paranoid and down to fumes, I had to go off the pavement into the dust to beg for gas. Maybe it's not a great country song title, but paranoid and down to fumes? That must be at least good enough for a C&W refrain, I mean ya gotta hear the line start high then roll down to the drawn out big bass note when it hits fumes . . .

Anyway, my exposed desperation drove me to locate an isolated ramshackle settlement. You know you've hit near the bottom in Mexico when there's no razor wire, steel gates or smoke charred cinderblock walls to protect the possessions. Didn't care, needed gas.

Me open wallet and SHOUT loud so underSTAND okay lOOk, HERE money – I give money – for gasolineO -(mime using gas pump handle) okay, you have gasolineO? Man, on so many levels, I'm embarrassing. GasolineO? Had I been a bag of broken hammers I would not only have been smarter, I'd of been way more useful.

After what seemed like a fruitless twenty minutes of dusty wind swept silence and inane charades the fuel arrived in an open bucket, sucked from what rusty contraption who knows. I opened my wallet and told them to take what they needed, 100, 200, 500 pasos. Whatever. The fellow with the gas burned hands carefully reached into my wallet, fished around, and removed 70 pesos and then asked his family if anybody had change. I could see that they all felt kind of bad, nobody had change.

Once again, I'm humbled. How's this so? How is it that honesty can trump desperation when so often it can't defeat greed? With smiles all around, I honor and respect their help; we separate differently than we met and I ride off with enough fuel – to get somewhere else.

My goal is to reach Coatzacoalcos, which I believed to be a seaside resort area. Turns out that is another stupid miscalculation. It also turns out that running short of fuel is no small irony. As I head into Coatzacoalcos I'm confronted with kilometer after kilometer and hundreds of hectares of fossil fuel holding tanks and processing facilities. My nose burns, my eyes sting. I'm sure the area can be seen from space; that's certainly from where I'd want to see it. This Mad-Max creosote soaked metropolis rivals the industrial horror show of Midland,Texas (home of the Bush clan). And, if you ain't seen Midland, you ain't seen nothin' – right.

Clearly, there's nothing for me in Coatzacoalcos. But, I'm exhausted and before I crash I have to find a place to not do that. I quickly grab the tenth or twelfth thing that appears that doesn't scare me, badly.

I roll into what I know is a Ho-tel, a no-tell-motel, a pay-by-the-hour 'n get what ya yanks fer kinda place. In other words, a brothel. Don't care, need sleep. Two young ladies appear – God love them – and we negotiate a price. For the room. Only the room. To put a spin on an old line, I'd never want a lady who'd have me as a customer. But wow, this is quite a room. Why a pink, red and blue dimly lit room needs a stiff black pole sticking out of a red bucket and a couch and two chairs facing a huge bed and mirrors everywhere, including mirrors to cut your blow, is beyond me. Really, take my word for it, it's beyond me.

But, I need sleep. So, with the lull of the relentlessly pounding, tope hopping jake-breaking traffic, I toss myself on the crinkly plastic body fluid protected mattress. I'm mildly thankful. As I fade into a type of slumber I sniff and think, hmmmm, not too many beds can be cleaned up with a shot of Windex.

Here's a picture of the room; like magnificent landscapes, pictures can't do it justice.

But oh, what a new day can bring! It started out as a sunrise escape from a room that not so oddly smelled of day old buttocks. After a rocky start along taxi honking congested pot-hole infested roads, I hit the sweet spot. A smooth meandering road through pleasant hills and plains, almost not a Federal cop to be seen. And now I write from stunningly beautiful El Paraiso. But that's a story for another day . . .

 

 

 

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1 comment so far

  1. Mary MacKay on

    Oh my gawd that was funny!! Best blog yet!


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