Monday, March 10, 2008

The Trip Home

Happy Birthday Ibis!

As promised, here are the exciting details of our trip home. Because my tummy hurts this will be the speed-racer version. Well, MY version of speedy, anyway. ;) If you'd like to know more, by all mean, ask away!

Wednesday - left Juarez
We were on the road by 2pm and Ibis had overly lofty aspirations of reaching Durango that day. We made it to Gomez Palacio, a small town next to Torreon. I wasn't able to drive because that stage of my cold involved constant watering eyes and leaking nose. Makes it hard to see.

Things were fine till we were in the town looking for a hotel and ran over a sharp metal object. We had to unload the trunk on the sidewalk so Ibis could change the tire. I tried to look menacing to the teenagers hanging out on the next corner. We were right in front of the plaza and while I was very glad we were in a town and not on the highway, it was still scary.

We found a hotel for less than 300 pesos and man did it look it. But it had a free parking garage and Pancho Villa apparently stayed there. The sheets looked it.

Thursday - GP to Mazatlan
We skipped a shower and aimed for the coast. I'd been warned the road between Durango and Mazatlan was very slow and windy but after the drive with my dad we figured we could handle everything. I drove the first shift into the mountains and as we zipped along the cuota (toll road) we wondered what the heck our friend was talking about. Then we came to the end of the road. As in, they were still building it. Ibis tried arguing with the guy but there was no where to go but back where we came from. We had to backtrack about 10 kilometers then join the truckers on the free road.

Four hours later we emerged from the mountains and saw the ocean. Once in Mazatlan we found a nice hotel right on the ocean for only 400 pesos. It even had a balcony with a gorgeous view! We drove around town and I couldn't believe how much it's been built up since I was last there in '93. I almost missed our time share because the area has changed so much. We walked through the hotel so I could show Ibis the way I'd gotten to know Mexico as a kid and we nearly got kicked out by an over-excited security guard. At least he earns his keep.

Friday - to Guadalajara
The drive to Guadalajara was much better. We still had a few mountains to deal with but it was two-lane roads the whole way. We found a hotel near the historic district for around 500 pesos and it was nasty, nasty, nasty. Parking was included but we opted not to shower, again. We walked around town and I wasn't that thrilled with things - I blame the eight days we'd been on the road - but all that changed when we hopped on a double-decker tour bus! I'd never ridden one before and it was a wonderful way to see the city. The tour lasted almost two hours and we got to see a lot of the city. Because it was Friday night we also saw which neighborhoods are popular with which types of people. Between that and numerous Starbucks sightings we decided if the whole greencard thing doesn't work out we might try our luck in Guadalajara.

We debated staying an extra night and going to a live soccer - er, futbol - game but I was anxious to get home. The tickets were fairly expensive, too, and knowing we have to go back to Juarez in a month we decided we should be on our way.

The bed in the nasty hotel was surprisingly comfortable and I did not want to get up. I had pushed an arm chair in front of the door for added security (that'll stop thieves!) but I slept well despite the lack of a good lock. After finding a Starbucks and almost running over an already dead cat we were on our way to Manzanillo.

We arrived by 11am - the first city we got to at a reasonable time - and hated it immediately. There's a thermoelectrical plant on the south end of the city and the ocean breezes that make Mexico famous blow the smog into the bay. The city itself is nice - a happy medium between Zihua and Ixtapa, touristy AND local - but the sand was polluted with oil and the air quality ruined it for us. I did see a whale in the distance as we approached the town but that was about the only exciting thing. We had planned to stay overnight but after sharing an order of over-priced tacos we decided we'd had enough. It was time to go home.

On our maps, curvy roads are indicated by curvy lines. Makes sense, right? So we were a little frightened when the road between Manzanillo and home had almost right angles. Once again I started the drive towards the mountains - after a quick stop for a chicken. Ibis fed me as I drove and he lasted two hours without getting carsick. He's notorious for being a bad rider and if he's not driving he makes everyone and anyone sit in the backseat. I drove as carefully as I could and never made it over 40 mph so the chicken wouldn't make a second appearance. I kept waiting for something wacky to happen since my past two driving shifts involved hitting a bird, being attacked by a tumbleweed and running out of highway, but nothing happened.

We switched on the top of a mountain (long enough for a potty break) and quickly encountered two burros nuzzling on the opposite side of the road. There was a car coming towards us and trying to pass in our lane but we were able to avoid a collision. The burros never even noticed us.

Then Ibis ran over an iguana. Gross. He claims he only hit the tail so we're hoping it'll regenerate, but I'm not so sure. Depends on how much he got. We passed many dogs, all of which looked at us with a mixture of bemusement and disdain when he honked to get them out of the road.

We got to Lazaro around 7pm and felt more than a little guilty about not stopping to see him family but that would be a several hour visit, minimum. So we kept on going and arrived in town by 9pm.

All total: 3000 miles round trip / 5000 kilometers.

Zero stops at military checkpoints even though we passed by plenty.

One sunburned arm (me) since I was in the sun the entire drive home. No, the AC is not fixed yet. We're leaning more and more towards Ibis flying to Juarez next month for the second appointment but either way, at least we know what to expect.

It's good to be home!


Jenna said...

Happy Birthday Ibis (one day late :).

Jenna said...

Happy Birthday Ibis (one day late :).

squick said...

Belated Happy Day Ibis!

Quite the harrowing tale, Mel. I feel like I was right there with you. :)

spyscribbler said...

Happy Birthday to Ibis, too! So, this returning to the States thing ... you mean, like, really returning, forever and ever?

Will you miss Mexico? It sounds so exotic and beautiful and WARM! Where would you move to in the States? (Sorry, you probably already mentioned, but I missed it. :-()

Melanie Avila said...

SS - We lived in Chicago before moving here so that's where we plan to return. We both really miss it.

It's beautiful here but it's one thing to vacation here and another thing entirely to live and try to work here. It's been tough. I try not to get into the negatives here, but they are a part of every day.

You can bet you'll hear me across the internet if he's approved. ;)