We continue on our way as today we need to reach Veracruz by nightfall. It will be a long, long day. We pass through Tampico and travel along the coast a bit before turning more inland. There are too many smaller villages to count, all with people, animals and what have you all over the place. Young children riding bikes or walking alone pay no heed to traffic passing by them. Horses, goats and pigs are tied to sagging fence lines, left out to graze for the day. Wash is hung out to dry on propped up long poles or sticks. Chickens pick and scratch at the ground in dirt yards, looking for a food source. As the day progresses we are getting into more winding roads which slow us down considerable. These are 2 lane roads and if we get behind a cargo truck it will be unsafe to pass even though the locals do it without fear. Such daring drivers!
By noon we have reached Posa Rica, a bustling much larger city. We spot a colorful open air dining spot to pull into for lunch. There is but one patron sitting at a small table so we hope this will be a quick meal. The tiniest little bird of a woman behind the open counter is beaming and welcomes us to her establishment with gestures of her hands and pointing to her sign and then to her chest. Ahhh, we understand, she is the proprietor of this little gem. She knows we don’t speak a lick of Spanish other than si and gracious which we use a lot of but a smile is universal anywhere. She indicates she will make us her house specialty. I’m guessing it will have something to do with eggs as I see through a side window, chickens in the tienda’s side yard. The music is loud despite minimal patrons. She brings us both a slightly warm Coke in glass bottles. Coca-Cola has a different flavor in Mexico, perhaps it’s the sugar cane they us. Within a few minutes she brings us plates of rice and beans accompanied with warm soft hand made tortilla’s with fluffy cooked eggs folded inside. We are famished and embarrassingly eat quickly between swigs of Coke. When finished she offers us the scribbled cost of our comfort meal on a napkin … it is a whopping $4.50 in our accustomed currency. As we prepare to leave after paying our charges we offer her a generous tip. Her eyes well up with tears and she hugs me tightly with a soft voice saying, “gracious, gracious” over and over.
We push onto Veracruz which is still 180 miles long. This can easily feel longer with the traffic and poor quality of road surface. We travel a distance along the coast admiring the gentle surf and beautiful homes here and there. We are just yards away from the sand in some areas and it’s tempting to stop and put our feet into the Gulf of Mexico and just b-r-e-a-t-h. We are scooting our way South, slowly but surely.
The dust settles around us and it grows quiet; I only can hear the ticking of the hot engine cooling down. “What did you just say?”, asks my husband. “You want to go back…forget all that we’ve wanted of this experience?”. I feel shameful and my face is flushed as I look at myself in the rearview mirror. “I can’t do this”, I whisper. More minutes slip by and he’s not uttered a sound. He’s thinking. I know him well. A deep sigh escapes his lips as he turns to me, taking my hand into his. ” Please” is all he says. A simple word that can be read so many ways. Again, I know this man so well. It is hard for him to put his feelings into flowery sentences, he typically finds other ways to say his wants. “Lets take it a day at a time. If at the end it’s not what we think it should be, we’ll return home”. I sit and ponder on this request. Up until now it seemed like such an enchanting plan yet in the moment we crossed over that hill and into the sight of that battered white sign proclaiming we were at the Tropic of Cancer, my balloon deflated. Anxiety and fear were knocking at my hearts door and a feeling of no return hit me hard. He is right and I know it. To make a U-turn right then and there would be the chicken way out. To never see what is on the downward side of the Tropic of Cancer would be cheating both of us of not ever knowing what could have been or would have been.
I look down at our entwined fingers and know the response I will give. I look over at him and give him a feeble smile. I still feel shaken but willing to go on ahead and take it a day at a time. “Ok, but you drive. I need to take a photograph of that sign back there”.
This story is patterned after a Journal I kept for 9 days while traveling through Mexico to our island destination of Ambergris Caye, Belize. A bit of fiction but a whole lot of truth is written here.
We are homeless. No house, no mortgage…not even a phone and we no longer exist in the AT&T calling world. And the feeling is exhilarating!
Our spirits are riding high as we are about to embark on a long awaited lifestyle change. We are anxious to get to our tropical destination; it’s like a surreal dream about to come true. Our route is laid out before us with the use of maps, penciled notations and a new gadget called a GPS, and contact names along our planned route, if needed. All that we own is now compressed within the walls of this vehicle.
Our destination is yet another 5 days away from us. A tiny and beautiful island off the coast of Belize, Central America. A plot of land we purchased a few years ago to build our island dream home is awaiting our final plans to build on. But first we need to traverse the eastern costal highways and roads of Mexico, a road trip that requires both of our eyes and minds to be watchful for potential trouble spots. We aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy, is what we keep saying to each other. “Crazy, those two are nuts”, is what some people were saying. Who in their right mind would sell everything they owned, leave family and friends and go off to live on a tropical island in a developing country? “More money than sense” is what was being rumored we surmised to one another more than once. With a soft whisper I secretly acknowledged to myself, all the above could be true.
The Mexican costal region is jaw dropping beautiful. From flat farm ground sprouting acres of pineapple tops to the forested highlands with flitting Blue Morpho butterflies flirting dangerously close to our windshield. We can see fisherman out in their little dories casting their nets for the catch of the day. The sea is a blindingly blue sapphire color. In one small village we encounter the sale of caged parrots along the road side. Heavy big trucks belch diesel fumes ahead of us as we slowly make our way through villages and smaller cities. I have to pinch myself to realize where I’m at this very moment in time.
The road curves its way around mountains that proclaim the ruins of ancient Mayan societies. We cross over the Tropic of Cancer in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and it’s then that I begin to feel twinges and then waves of remorse for leaving all that was familiar to me in my life. I’ve gone over and over this move in my mind for the past two years yet now I’m beginning to doubt our reasons for doing this.
I’m gripping the steering wheel of our home on wheels when I veer sharply onto the graveled narrow shoulder of this pot holed highway and come to a bone jarring stop. As the dust billows thickly around our vehicle, I turn to my surprised husband and sharply exclaim, “I can’t do this! We have to go back!”.
This is a small excerpt from a journal I kept along the way of this true adventure. One that had more twists and turns than the roads we traveled in getting to our final destination.