It’s just one of those days where you drive 580kms and get nowhere! Leaving the 57D for the 400 road (which is not marked on the National Geographic map or the GPS) to skirt wide around the top of Mexico City, we still could not escape the ever further reaching presence of this vast city. Dropping down into the Mezquital Valley and passing Tula (where you can find some impressive Toltec ruins), the air was overcome by a thick smog ,stretching 75kms from Mexico City to the south. With little breeze to remove it we were enveloped by it and unable to escape it’s clutches. We’re pretty sure this took at least three years off our lives.
Finally released from the evil smog, we descended rapidly through a series of twists and turns towards Cordoba at a rate of 2500m in only 10kms. The environment quickly changed from dry desert landscapes towards a tropical jungle. Reaching the floor of the descent with brakes intact, both lanes were needed to Mario Cart it through the increasing amount of potholes, and the unagile Porkchop moaned at us in protest.
Back onto the dreaded Mexican toll roads, we hit Cosamalopan’s toll booth to a knocking noise we’d not heard before. Concerned that this new noise may turn out to be worse than expected, we pulled over into the adjacent Pemex. Looking under the car we soon realised that the noise was coming from the transmission, shit. A friendly police man arrived to greet us and in broken Spanish the issue was conveyed to him. A feeble attempt in Spanish to get the address of the mechanic ended up with him scrawling some notes on a notepad which we could kind of understand.
Eventually directions to the nearest mechanic in town were obtained, and as we went to drive off the mechanic promptly pulls up, and he and his Gordito (‘fat’ as he called him) friend jump out. Asking if it was a ‘grande problemo’ or a ‘poco problemo’ they soon ascertain the same conclusion as us (potentially ‘grande problemo’) and gain police clearance (via a little something something) to back up through the tolls and avoid an otherwise 40km round trip back to town.
At the mechanics, a carwash joint with the rest of the open space used as a workshop, Sarah notices a 4WD with its transmission on the floor.
Hope that doesn’t happen to Porckchop! she says
10 minutes later Porkchops drive shaft is out and the issue has been diagnosed. As they crawl out from under the car the ensuing conversations went like this…
Mechanic: ‘Where you go?’
He then shows us that the driveshaft extension arm is jiggling around like loose change. With nothing else to do but wait until morning in order to take out the 14,000 pesos for the transmission overhaul, we headed out for food and a couple of cold ones (beers). Ending up at a small family run affair off Parque Central, we tucked into chicken, rice and tortillas, all the while being entertained by a man with his harp and the cheerful and cheeky daughter of the owners.
Cosamaloapan, as it’s name may suggest, is not known for having a cosmopolitan bar scene, and the nearest place to us at this time presented us with black as black tinted windows. Sliding open the door and blinded by the disco lights shooting off in all directions, our eyes finally adjust to find that we were the only patrons in the empty, dark bar. Ordering a couple of drinks, the two young guys behind the bar were both amazed and fascinated by the spectacle that’s just entered. Jesus and friend soon start talking to us (in Spanish), and in the preceding hours we have an absolute ball with them. At one stage, Jesus, whom is also drinking, proclaims in English that he is gay.
‘Yeah I knew that as soon as I walked in’
was Matt’s reply. His compadre doubles over in laughter but Jesus don’t care, he’s so bad ass. Teaching the boys a couple of new drinks to mix, we soon realised that time had slipped away and the mechanics closes at 9pm, so if we didn’t get back we’d be locked out and sleeping on the streets.
Next morning we woke to the sensation of the car being jacked up at 7am, and we rose to the amusement of all the locals, re-enacting us two stumbling in the previous night. Taking leave for breakfast on the bikes, we took a somewhat very brief tour of the town, with the church and plaza being the only noteworthy attractions. Passing time, one can only sit in an internet café for so long, or drag out lunch at a local place owned by a friendly husband and wife team. He’d previously lived in Houston Texas, and entertained us with his story of being deported for DUI. Planting a half kilo of pork meat on a plate, along with salad and a bunch of tortillas, we left with bellies bursting all for the paupers sum of 50 pesos.
The highlight of our unplanned pit stop in Cosamaloapan by far and away was the meeting of Omar. Having finished a dinner of mini pizza type things, the restaurant we were in was closing, so we were told that we could hang out in the lobby next door. Omar was the man behind the reception desk and was more than happy to accommodate us.
Shortly after pulling up some chairs, Omar came over with a couple of free soft drinks. We engaged in conversation, finding out that he teaches English and loved the opportunity to practice (as we’ve said, this is far from a booming tourist town, we were the only ones in sight the entire time). Explaining our predicament with the car, Omar was more than happy to escort us back to the mechanics to make certain that they weren’t taking the piss and ripping us off. Declining the offer Omar went back to his little office.
15 minutes later a delivery boy arrives with a bag of food. Omar returns to our table this time with tamales! These were the first time we had had them since crossing into Mexico and f*&k me they were some tasty tamales. Refusing all payment for the food we again left with stuffed stomachs to fetch the, hopefully, finished car.
Fail. They needed a few more hours to complete the job, so heading back to the NAME OF THE PLACE???? Omar this time went above and beyond. Being the owner of the building, an old hotel which now houses permanent residents in rental apartments, he was so kind as to give us a room for a couple of hours so we could chillout, shower and sleep if the need took us. This again on the house. The generosity of this man was endless.
Back to the mechanics the car was now not going to be ready until the morning, so again the nights camping was made in the yard (at least we didn’t have to pay).
If you want to check out more of our Mexico photos there’ll all here!