Mexico on my mind
November 5, 2017
My mind slips back to a road trip to Baja. I'm in high school and have a '35 Ford. Getting across the border in to Tijuana is easy. I show my driver's license and off I go.
The coastline is pure wilderness; pristine beaches and no people. I turn onto a rutted road, 50 feet above the surf. The sun is dipping fast. In minutes hot dogs are dancing in the fire and a pot of beans is perched between two stones among the coals.
It's morning. I hear "Tingle, tingle, tingle." I peek out of my sleeping bag. Coming my way is a flock of sheep, nibbling and bleating for all they're worth. For a guy from Hollywood High School, this is an adventure.
It's years later. This time I'm knee deep into Mexico, at El Fuerte. I amble over to the railroad office to buy tickets on the Copper Canyon Train. "Senor, I'm very sorry. No one will answer the telephone in the Main Office in Chihuahua. Why don't you just go to the train station and when the train arrives from Topolobompo, ask the conductor if he has room?"
Filled with dread, I follow his advice. It's 6:30 a.m. the next day. The train pulls in. The conductor begins loading passengers on board. I politely interrupt, and he says I should go to the lounge car and he will find me later. Life can be so simple sometimes.
I've been told to sit on the right side of the train to get the best view. I do better than that; I stand on the platform between cars. In Mexico rules about safety come second to getting a good view.
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The engine starts to struggle, even though it's only pulling 7 cars. We pass a long lake, with a fisherman pulling in black bass as fast as he can. Mountain ridges squeeze in on us. A waterfall cascades down on one side, passes under the track and disappears down a slope into pools hundreds of feet below. The track is so curvy, sometimes I can see the engine and the caboose car at the same time. There are 36 bridges and 87 tunnels on this line. No wonder it took almost 100 years to build.
Mexico has definitely garnered my propensity for wanderlust. Orllyene and I celebrated our honeymoon in Guaymas. We took a casita in the fabled colonial village of San Miguel de Allende for a summer and anchored our motorhome on the beach of the Mexican Riviera.
It's true the roads of Mexico are sometimes pot-holed, their gasoline can be anemic, and you definitely should boil the water before you drink it, but the hearts of the people are generous, helpful and welcoming.
When I took the name of Ronaldo el Magnifico at one of my language session, Viannay, our lovely young teacher looked at me, smiled and said, "Perfecto."
Adios Amigos-Vayo con Dios.
Ron Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org