Each day of our drive to Playa del Carmen has tested something in us – our navigation skills, our Spanish, our patience. Today our driving skills were put to the test. I’ve driven a rental car in Mexico before, but the past two days have been on a whole other level and we’ve had to get used to a different kind of driving etiquette. Both lane markers and speed limits are merely suggestions, shoulders are for passing and turn signals either mean someone else is getting ready to pass or they want you to pass them or maybe they just forgot to turn their blinker off. Highway signs are not labeled directionally like East/West or by name, you simply follow signs for the town you’re headed towards (and you better know which towns are in between there). So having finally ‘mastered’ those philosophies, today gave us some new challenges.
After successfully navigating away from bad weather, the GPS British lady failed to warn us of road construction in Puebla today. For a city of 2.7 million that presents some challenges for the passer-through. We got caught up in quite the traffic jam when six lanes merged into one with no warning signs. Most people didn’t want to let the gringos with the Kansas plates in front of them because we obviously did not know what we were doing. Don’t really blame them. A great way to pass the time is to shop the wares of the people wandering up and down the rows of stopped cars. These people are fearless. I swear if we’d had one extra inch in our car to store something I’d be the proud owner of a new pair of flip flops and an electric lantern.
Just after leaving the city we were greeted with this majestic site that immediately began to ease some of our tension. At 18,400 feet Pico de Orizaba is the highest peak in Mexico and really amazing to see. And it remained that way until the road we were on started climbing closer. And closer. And then this happened.
This is a picture I took before the fog became TOO thick and I had to put the camera down so we could both concentrate on finding the road. Never have either one of us seen anything like it, let alone have to drive through it. It was a harrowing 30+ minutes. The mountain range we passed through is where the humid jungle air collides with the dry desert highland air forming some of the thickest clouds imaginable. And the road goes directly through those clouds. Not under, but through. Creating white out conditions for kilometers.
When we finally cleared the fog and got down the mountain we ended up in dense rainy jungles. Today was an expensive day for tolls, but we were happy to contribute that money because we ended up on some atrocious roads today. That money will hopefully go towards improving the roads so that whoever comes after us will save on replacement shocks and tires.
Jason is currently trying to uncurl his fingers from the shape of gripping the steering wheel for hours and I’m looking for aspirin to alleviate the pain from hitting my head on the ceiling of the car one too many times. But we’re also looking back in awe that in one day we went from driving through an arid desert to a snow-tipped mountain to a rainy jungle to where we are right now, a few kilometers from the ocean. In addition to the wonder of Mother Nature I can now argue that the vast number of clothing options I brought was justifiable.