Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hitchiking Up Mexico

I'm writing this from La Paz, Mexico, up the Baja Coast in a hotel that was formerly a Spanish Catholic convent.  I had my first siesta today from 2pm to 4pm because of the scorching heat.  I'm about 3 hours North of Cabo San Lucas.  I got here by hitchhiking up Mexico.  Let's not let Mom and Dad know.

On a lonely desert highway, the city bus dropped me off.  For five minutes, I stuck my thumb out at the road. Some Mexicans, who were just watching, smiled when I got a ride.  It was an uncle name Enrique and his two nephews.  They made me sit in the cab of their truck, while the hot sun beat down on me.  It was a nice way, from the open flatbed, to see the Mexican dessert.  It reminded me a bit of the Russian birches I saw in Siberia, but I realized, you are in a very different ecosystem.  For miles, there was just brush of spiky plants, cacti and dessert.  And then there was me, the little china man sitting in the back of the truck.

I thanked Enrique, and he dropped me off again in the middle of nowhere.  Across the street was a pit stop, in which I went and gave the guy five pesos for a chilling and refreshing glass of coke.  I downed it because I saw a prospective ride.  I couldn't have been at the pit stop for more than five minutes.

I ran across the street and hitchhiked.  The guy had a a white roadster - two seater, and boy did it make a lot of noise.  I was thinking, Oh, I hope you pick me up.  He pulled over.  We started speaking Spanish, but I realized quickly he was an American.  I said, "You speak English, right?"

He said, "I sure do.  Hop in."

I dropped my luggage in his small trunk, and we rode throughout Highway 1, crossing through the desert and all.  In about 30 minutes, I found out quite a bit about this guy.  He was starting to do a sustainability project.  We had one friend in common - believe it or not.  He was into sustainable cement.  He graduated from Stanford as an engineer and told me that our cement is bad for the environment, absorbs oxygen, and is expensive.  I told him I just passed the bar, and he said it was fantastic. 

He said that he had a Korean attorney who worked for him as well and that he liked how rigid and disciplined Koreans were.  I found that funny.  It reminded me of my boxing club and how I took form and technique a lot more seriously than the Mexicans, who believed in starting with conditioning and brawling.  He dropped me at the top of the hill with two other hitch hikers.

In 10 minutes, a van that was gutted out for construction work picked us up.  There were three of them.  The main driver's name was Teresa.  The passenger was Jose and another one was Edwardo.  Edwardo looked a bit crazy but he was friendly too.  Who knew if they were going to rip out one of my kidneys?  One hitchhiker was an Italian guy who was bringing his Chicata lover with him.  They shared some food with me; I thought it was the ribcage of dried fish.  But after I ate it, I noticed the strong taste of something I never tasted before.  I can't explain it.  They told me it was rattlesnake.  I thought - so that's how rattlesnake jerky tastes.  It was so hot for the hour and half remaining that I fell asleep in the van. 

When I awoke, I was in La Paz.  They were kind and dropped me off near a taco stand.  There, I ordered raw clams and hibiscus flower juice, called jamiaca.  It was refreshing for the hot ride, but I knew I'd be hungry again.

I made it.  I had a crazy thought.  I should hitchhike all the way back to Los Angeles.  But when someone told me it's 20 hours to Tijuana from La Paz, I passed on the idea.  I'd need another week in Mexico.  I suppose I can stay here another week.  But would it really be worth hitchhiking all the back to Los Angeles?  I'm sure I could do it, as it seems like people pick me up rather quickly.  And I'm not all that scared.  I just wonder if it'd be a good use of my time.

Ok - remember our agreement.  I'll tell Mom and Dad later.  When I get home - that is.

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